Beyond Leave No Trace | Tips On Going The Extra Mile When Travelling Wild - Outdoors Magic

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Beyond Leave No Trace | Tips On Going The Extra Mile When Travelling Wild

Top tips on how to protect and conserve our natural lands, become a responsible adventurer, and go above and beyond leave no trace

Most dedicated hikers, campers, and general nature enthusiasts will be familiar with the principles of ‘Leave No Trace’ (LNT). Thankfully, this idea of responsible adventuring has become very much integrated into our outdoor trips, and for the most part, into the ethos of everyday life. And this is great. It really is. But beyond our individual responsibilities on multi-day hikes, cross-country camping, or bikepacking across the British Isles; what more can we do?  

Photo: iStock/ conn75

Though the ethics of LNT are handy for singular adventures, there’s a lot more we can do to help combat larger scale problems such as plastic pollution, deforestation, ever-increasing carbon emissions, and the like. Many organisations and outdoor influencers now encourage going one step further in removing or undoing the collective damage that’s already been done, rather than focusing on our individual impacts alone. In this sense, you leave a positive trace rather than no trace, and commit to leaving an area better off than when you found it.  

Related: Mpora | The Environment

This might involve picking up other people’s litter, cleaning up waterways, rewilding or re-naturalising outdoor spaces (for example, putting stones back where they are meant to be, or restoring native trees to the area), volunteering in local forests and parks, or looking more sustainably at our buying habits and the harming effects of disposable capitalism. With this holistic view, we become more proactive as stewards of our natural environments, and address both our past and future impacts, as well as our impacts in the present moment. 

Beyond Leave No Trace

Though the ideas behind going further than LNT can seem pretty intuitive and have been practiced by many communities for centuries, Gregory Simon and Peter Alagona, two environmental ethicists, put together a list of 7 additional principles to help us on our way:  

  1. Educate yourself and others about the places you visit 
  2. Purchase only the equipment and clothing you need 
  3. Take care of the equipment and clothing you have 
  4. Make conscientious food, equipment, and clothing consumption choices 
  5. Minimise waste production 
  6. Reduce energy consumption (day-to-day) 
  7. Get involved by conserving and restoring the places you visit

They consider it an expansion (not a rejection) of LNT and hope to reinvent wilderness recreation ‘as a more collaborative, participatory, productive, democratic, and radical form of political action.’  

In short, by thinking more expansively about our effects on the natural world, and acting accordingly, we have a much higher chance of conserving and protecting the beautiful environments that bring us so much joy. 

Expert Advice

We spoke to a number of environmental organisations and outdoor influencers to see what they thought on the matter…

The 2 Minute Foundation

Photo: iStock/ Mario De Moya F

Nicola Green, Chief Operating Officer for the 2 Minute Foundation, said: 

“Plastic that we pick up is just one small part of our planet’s problems. It’s a symptom of mass consumerism, which is using up resources at a massive rate. From the moment that it’s extracted and transported, to when it washes up on the beach or gets recycled; it creates climate change emissions at every stage in its life cycle. Plastic IS climate change, and we need to stop depending on it. Our #2minutesolution campaign promotes easy swaps and encourages simple, planet-positive acts that individuals can do to cut out single-use plastic. It raises awareness, educates and influences people to refuse and reduce plastic consumption by swapping and switching to renewables. 

“We need our blue spaces to be rich in biodiversity and free from the detrimental effects of plastics.”

“By understanding this intrinsic link between climate change and plastic pollution, we’re encouraged to take more responsibility in protecting our planet. We need our blue spaces to be rich in biodiversity and free from the detrimental effects of plastics; we need green and wild spaces to be completely litter free; and we need a systemic shift in our attitude towards plastics and plastic pollution.  

“By looking at this link, we can understand how much of what we ‘do’ matters. Nature is to be enjoyed and protected, not abused. We all need to be good stewards of our planet, and attitudes and habits can easily be changed, 2 minutes at a time.” 

Ramblers GB

Photo: iStock/ jacoblund

Tompion Platt, Head of advocacy and engagement for the Ramblers, said: 

“It’s been wonderful to see so many people enjoying walking over the past year, and our growing enthusiasm for the outdoors looks set to stay. Nothing beats the feeling of going for a walk in amongst beautiful surroundings. And with more of us visiting the countryside and holidaying at home, it’s even more important that we all play our part in looking after the places we love to walk, keeping them enjoyable and safe for everyone, whilst helping to maintain good relationships with the people that live and work in those areas.  

Fix The Fells volunteers repairing paths in the Lake District.
The John Muir Trust in action in Scotland.

“For those who want to do more, joining the Ramblers is a great way to have a bigger impact. As well as supporting our work and campaigns to protect the countryside and our access to it, you can also get involved on a practical level, with many of our groups regularly organising litter picks and 150 volunteer path maintenance teams across the UK working hard to keep paths clear and accessible for everyone. 

“If we all play our part, we can continue to reap the physical, emotional and mental benefits of walking in nature, ensuring a warm welcome and beautiful landscapes to enjoy for generations to come.” 

Nic Hardy


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A post shared by Nic Hardy (@adventurer.nic)

Outdoor adventurer, komoot ambassador and peak-bagging hiker Nic, said:  

“You don’t have to call yourself an activist or give up all your spare time to fight the seemingly never-ending fight against litter. If every outdoor lover picked up the odd sweet wrapper, bottle top and crisp packet; it really would make a massive difference.  

“Leave No Trace is no longer enough, we need to leave our green spaces better than we found them.”

“There are also so many volunteer groups you can get involved in if you want to go one step further.  My local national park is the Lake District, and a volunteer organisation called The Lakes Plastic Collective has grown hugely over the last year in response to the demand for large scale clean-ups. They target their big litter picks based on social media tagging and do a wonderful job of keeping the Lake District tidy, but it’s often a thankless task. Brands like Fjällräven are also now creating reusable litter picking bags that can be taken on walks.  

“Leave No Trace is no longer enough, we need to leave our green spaces better than we found them. If one person leaves a dog poo bag by a gate, another dog walker will leave theirs too, and the next and the next, until there’s a big pile. The same applies to the odd takeaway cup and plastic bottle. If there are none around, maybe the potential litter dropper will think twice about whether to drop theirs. 

“I would love to see people keeping nature, wildlife and ‘leave no trace’ in the forefront of their minds when adventuring.” 


Janie Neumann, VisitScotland’s Industry Development Manager for Sustainability, said: 

“Tourism is not immune to environmental change and so preserving our natural assets for future generations requires balance. Travel and tourism sustain communities and make for a more inclusive society. Our Responsible Tourism campaign calls on visitors to respect, protect and enjoy Scotland, which goes further than the ambitions of leave no trace. We need to strive to maintain economic activity whilst not only minimising the negative but maximising the positive environmental and social impact. Encouraging visitors to stay longer, visit all year round, support local businesses and produce, and explore more of what the destination has to offer, is crucial to creating a sustainable tourism destination. It also means making low carbon choices and supporting ‘green’ businesses to combat climate change. In this sense, tourism can be a force for good – creating economic and social value and enhancing the well-being of everyone who experiences it. Leaving a positive trace, rather than no trace.


Organisations You Can Support

Aside from taking action and passing on this information to your friends and family, there are also some great rewilding schemes and path repair initiatives out there that we can support.

Here’s a list of just some of the amazing organisations and associations here in the UK:



Main Photo: iStock/ Oleg Charykov


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