Rule #27. Leave the place better than you found it.
Last year while hiking at Loud Thunder Forest Preserve, Clarissa and I wound our way up to the riverbank only to find tons of beer cans littering the shore. It made me feel a little blue at first, and then a little angry. I’m no stranger to drinking beer next to a body of water, but if you’re going to carry them out full, you can haul them back in empty. The presence of this mess really soured the hike for me, and there was only one thing that could make me feel better; leaving the place better than we found it.
I had a bag we could use for trash in my daypack, and we set to work picking up as much of the trash as we could carry back. Most people don’t like picking up after other people and I’m no exception, but when I looked down at how much better that beach looked as we moved on, I felt great.
We should always strive to leave a place better than we found it, regardless of the circumstance. When I camp, I always police the area and make sure any trash is disposed of properly, even if it wasn’t my own. If there are trees down across trails or there is damage to bridges or stairwells I always do my best to report it so that it can be repaired. If I process more wood than I need, I leave it neatly stacked for whoever may come next. It comes down to respecting a place and respecting others who use it as well.
We should have the same attitude when it comes to our neighborhoods and towns; even our planet. We should all strive to leave a better world for those that follow us. Many hands make light work, and if we all chip in, we can start to improve the world we live in.
So when you’re camping or hiking, take an extra garbage bag with you and collect any trash you might find. Make sure you’re disposing of your own trash properly. Set a good example for those around you. Leave the place better than you found it.
“Rules for Intrepid Living” is a weekly post that gives potential guidelines for how we can all live a bit more of an intrepid life.
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