Gathering around a campfire to exchange stories and spend time with friends is one of my favorite parts of camping. Watching the flickering flames and the smell of burning wood instills a sense of calm in me. However, what really puts my mind at ease is knowing that my campfire is not leaving a trace on the environment. According to Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, one of the most important rules to follow when building a campfire is to never burn your trash. Here are a few reasons why.
First, burning items like plastic bottles and bags, miscellaneous tape, batteries, or baby diapers releases numerous chemicals such as styrene, lead, and xylene—all known carcinogens. These carcinogens are then left behind in the ash created by the fire and are also released into the atmosphere. I sure don’t want myself or anyone else to be breathing in those toxins!
Another negative effect of burning trash is damage which accumulates over time. The trash leftover from a fire builds up in the environment causing long term effects. Animals are also attracted and conditioned to human food and trash and will go to extreme measures to seek these items out. Many times, this leads to animals becoming more aggressive and they are then destroyed to keep campers like you and me safe. Consuming human food also disrupts the natural feeding cycles of wild animals. This would occur much less often if explorers were mindful of the waste they leave behind.
Now, how can we go about being more mindful and leaving less waste? It’s simple: pack it in, pack it out. Campers should leave every campsite looking like it has been untouched by human (or gnome) hands. This can be accomplished by packing out all of our trash and either bringing it to a nearby trash receptacle or bringing it home where we can dispose of it appropriately. By planning ahead for our outdoor adventures, we have the opportunity to reduce the volume of our trash tremendously. Packing food in reu... [More]