Posted on May 14 2021
Hiking can be so beautiful and it needs to stay that way – these tips will help you to pay more attention to sustainability when hiking.
Hiking is healthy and very popular. Currently, also due to Corona, more and more people are discovering spending time in nature and the many benefits for body and mind. The health benefits of outdoor physical activity are well known. You don't even have to be extremely fit to just get going and go on a hike, either. The choice of hiking routes is so wide that the duration and intensity of the hike can be adapted to one's own needs – and you still cross beautiful landscapes. The exercise and fresh air have a positive effect on the immune system, the joints and the circulation and take you to beautiful places in the countryside, often in the immediate area.
Contact with nature has an invigorating effect, cheers you up and is a welcome counterbalance, especially for those who spend most of the day at a work desk looking at monitors – especially in times of home-office. For families, hikes are great opportunities to do and discover things together and to teach their children about beautiful things that lie beyond our world of consumption.
A sustainable approach to the environment
However, you should also do something good for nature and behave as sustainably as possible when hiking. Unfortunately, one has to bring this up every now and then when one notices how parks and forests look after a really nice weekend. It's unbelievable that this still needs to be said in 2021, but clearly neither education nor common sense is of any use to some among us. So, here is the sustainability lesson number one:
Litter produces more litter!
A single discarded aluminium can or chips packet is enough to take away the inhibitions of those who follow. They throw their rubbish next to it and have a much less guilty conscience about it. That's why it's better to stop littering at all!
It's best to avoid litter at all
In the past, hikers were in fact advised to bury litter along the path. Today, we are smarter, and experts have now moved away from this advice, not least because many of the things we leave behind degrade very slowly and poorly. Plastic in particular remains for centuries – a baby nappy for about 800 years, until it has completely decomposed. Soils that are very thin and have little vegetation also have less soil life. There, it can take years for a paper tissue to dissolve..
Cigarette butts are especially fatal. The filters do not dissolve and are often mistaken by birds for larvae – which they then feed to their young. If a filter gets into the groundwater, a single stub can poison thousands of litres of water and make it undrinkable.
Therefore: use the designated containers, separate waste and – best of all – don't produce any in the first place. Not being able to recycle properly in our area is a cheap excuse.
Silence is mindfulness
But mindfulness involves much more than just the handling and disposal of waste. Even the journey to go hiking contributes to nature conservation if we arrive by bicycle or public transport. Driving around in the forest in a noisy SUV is not only unsustainable, but also annoying. For other hikers – and for forest inhabitants.
Do not disturb domestic and wild animals
Because we are not alone in nature. Most of the time we are surrounded by birds, insects and larger animals without noticing them. If we move quietly and carefully, we sometimes have the opportunity to enjoy such encounters. Loud noises, music and especially leaving the hiking trails become a problem for animals. They feel harassed, and not all of them react by retreating. Wild boars with offspring can become aggressive in larger groups if things get too colourful for them, and even domestic sheep or cows on the pasture react irritably if they have young and hikers get too close to them – especially if you are out with dogs. Again and again, foresters find young wild animals dead that have obviously been attacked by domestic dogs. It is therefore better to stay on the paths – and always keep dogs on a leash.
Show respect for plants
It is not only the fauna that is stressed if you do not behave in a sustainable manner; the plant world suffers just as much. You can simply leave off picking wild plants, which often wither before you get home. Photographing a beautiful flower is just as much fun and causes less damage. Again, by leaving the forest trails, you sometimes damage the sites of plants, often without even realising it.
Into the mushrooms best under guidance
Occasionally you may want to go a little deeper into the forest, namely when mushrooms and berries are in season. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as you are guided by experienced pickers at the beginning. It goes without saying that mushrooms you have collected yourself should be examined again at the mushroom testing centre before they are put in the pan.
Be careful with fire
In view of the increasing climatic changes that are also affecting nature, especially the persistent drought in summer, the last important tip should be about making fires in nature. Having a picnic outdoors, even barbecuing, can be very nice – at designated places. Afterwards, the fire should be thoroughly extinguished before leaving the place.
Most of the tips should not be new and are actually based on common sense. And now we wish you lots of fun on your next adventure!
With the functional products (TreePack Hiking, TreeShirt Longsleeve Active, TreeSocks Hiking or the TreePants Chino) from our Nature Awakening Collection you are well equipped for your next hiking adventure. If you still need inspiration for the most beautiful hiking routes in Switzerland, you can find it here. A balanced diet is especially important when hiking – here you'll find some great snack hacks.