Leave no Trace 7 Principles- Outdoor Ethics

outdoor ethics

Leave no trace 7 principles are a set of outdoor ethics that promotes conservation especially when outdoors. These are easily-understood principles where the user makes a minimal impact outdoors. Though these principles originated from the back-country settings, the principles, however, have been adapted to ensure that they are applicable anywhere. These 7 simple to follow principles are the basic guidelines for leaving no trace in whatever you do. Abiding by these principles will ensure that you conserve the environment and make it clean for others after you.


Leave no Trace 7 Principles, courtesy of Adventure Gears Lab

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The 7 principles of leaving no trace are;

• Make Plans Ahead and Prepare.

 • Always Travel and Camp on Durable Surface.

• Proper Waste Disposal is a Must.

• Leave Behind Whatever You Find.

• Minimize the Impact of Campfire.

• Have Respect for the Wildlife.

• Have Considerations for Other Visitors.

 Make Plans Ahead and Prepare

Failure to plan is the same thing as planning to fail. Make sure you do some research and be familiar with the regulations such as environmental laws. Check the forecasts for the likelihood of extreme conditions such as wildfires and flash floods, schedule your traveling to off-peak periods and package your food to reduce or eliminate wastes. Make sure you double check that everything you need is already packed.

Always Travel and Camp on Durable Surface

Always choose a durable camp surface and if you discover an old campsite or trail, then you should consider sticking to it. If a trail or campsite does not exist then you should create a new one on a solid surface. When you are camping in a popular area, make sure you concentrate on using the campsite or trail. Do not cut switchbacks, stick to solid surfaces like rocks and gravel.

Proper Waste Disposal is a Must

Leave the site better than you met it by packing out all thrash you find along the way. Food scraps must be thrown inside collectible containers. If you want to poop, move some 70 steps away from the site, trails and water, then dig 7-8 inches of a hole to poop-cover up the waste once done. Dishes must be washed some 200 feet away from ponds and streams.

Leave Behind Whatever You Find

You can take pictures of what you see on site but don’t take them when leaving. Though certain treasures like rocks and monuments can look cool in your home, they are also cool for others coming after to enjoy and take pictures with. In some cases, you may see rules and regulations that valuable items on site must be left on site- pay attention to these. 

Minimize the Impact of Campfire

Some of you might be lucky to find a designated fire pit to create your own campfire and enjoy some warmth. Make sure you keep the fire small and controllable. Don’t make the fire site look disorganized. Make use of a lightweight stove to prepare your food, and if no fire is allowed, you can make use of your own ENO camp lights.

Have Respect for the Wildlife

Always observe the animals from a safe distance, but never feed them because it is unhealthy and may create unnecessary attention from other wild animals. Safely store your food and thrash. If you travel with your dog, make sure you keep her under control so she doesn’t chase after wild animals. Observe all wildlife rules and regulations in your campsite to avoid the penalties.

Have Considerations for Other Visitors

Sounds can travel very far, hence you don’t want to disturb your neighbors with loud music. Make sure you keep the noise to the minimum. People often find more fun moving away occasionally from others, but that does not mean you should make other visitors like you uncomfortable. When you are considerate about other visitors, they will treat you nicely too.


The Leave no trace 7 principles will eventually become a lot easier to adhere when constantly practiced and followed. These principles will surely help us make a less negative impact on the environment while having fun with our friends, and family. They should be our guiding principles toward sustaining the environment.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of Ways2GoGreen.com and Ways2GoGreenBlog.com. I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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