5 simple steps to cleaner trekking trails
At inditramp we are passionate about keeping our outdoors and trails litter free. Studies show that people will pick up litter is if they witness someone else picking up litter. That is because peer group norms are a more powerful motivator than any other incentive. When reinforced constantly, peer group norms can result in behavioral changes.
It is our strong belief, that people want to do the right thing; all they need is a little encouragement or incentive. We believe that people are naturally responsible; if we encourage them to care for their favourite places, to pick up after themselves and others, then our trails will become self-sufficient, clean, and more enjoyable. Today we look at 5 simple ways that can help keep our trails and outdoors clean. Each of these steps may seem small and common sense, but we believe that collectively following these simple steps will have a huge effect on keeping our outdoors and trails clean.
1. Take eatables out of their individual wrappers and re-pack them in reusable ziplock bags. We have found that individual wrappers constitute a bulk of trash found on our trails. We carry ziplock bags labelled breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks on our treks. These ziplock bags ensure that we do not have to discard individual wrappers along the way.
2. Walk on established trails and don't shortcut switchbacks. Do not create new paths and campsites. New paths or campsites disrupt the purity and serenity of the area. Keeping to established trails also gives places that are just beginning to show a positive impact, the chance to heal themselves.
3. Catholes for human waste. No one wants to see toilet paper scattered over a pristine mountain site. Bury human waste in catholes about 6-8" deep 200 feet from any water sources, campsites, or trails. A small garden trowel (to make a cathole) is inexpensive and lightweight. It is splendid if you can carry out used toilet paper since animals often dig it up and spread it all over. However, if are averse to carrying out toilet paper then bury it in the same cathole. Burning toilet paper is not recommended. Burning toilet paper has been known to cause forest fires and $2.7 million fines.
4. Be considerate to other visitors. Simple steps like no loud music, alcohol or something as simple as giving enough space to the campers next door can greatly help enhance an outdoor experience. Also keep in mind that the feeling of solitude, especially in open areas, is enhanced when group size is small, contacts are infrequent and behavior is unobtrusive. Finally do make it a point to smile and say "hi" to a fellow trekker, or encourage them over a trail. Trekking in India is a small community and we trekkers must stick together.
5. Leave a trail cleaner than you found it. Despite your best efforts you will usually find litter scattered across regularly used trails. On such trails, make an effort to pack out existing litter, especially on your way back. A small garbage bag tied to your belt loop makes an easy and effective garbage collection device. Not only will this help keep the trail clean, but studies have shown that people are more reluctant to throw garbage at a place that is clean.