Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Everyday Leave No Trace

Thousands, if not millions, of people flocked to the outdoors this Labor Day weekend, marking another summer's end drawing near. I found myself with a co-worker at the JazzAspen festival in Snowmass, Colorado, enjoying good music and mountain air.

It was clear that the organizers were conscious of the festival's environmental footprint. Not only were trash receptacles abundant and well-marked, but so were recycling bins. Several of the festival sponsors were outdoor/environmental organizations.

According to the festival's website, 70% of concert-goers consider outdoor activities extremely important to their lifestyles.

Still, as the weekend drew to a close, and I surveyed the thousands of pieces of trash covering the concert grounds, I got to thinking about how far the principles behind "outdoor ethics" extends to other parts of our lives.

Many people wouldn't dream of throwing trash out intfehe woods while on a hiking or camping trip, but in settings such as concert grounds, or sports arenas, we sometimes have a mentality that someone else will clean up our mess. One of the common themes behind all of the Leave No Trace principles is thinking about our actions from a more universal or collective perspective. Maybe one person picking a single flower does not result in a large environmental impact, but what if everyone had that perspective?

As outdoor enthusiasts/recreationalists, we have taken responsibility for our actions and mastered the art of causing a minimal impact while enjoying the outdoors, while also trying to preserve the quality of others' experiences. How can we apply these same ideas to other aspects of our lives?

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