There is no denying it, travelling the world on adventures is not very green. So how do we go about making action sports better for the environment? Well these eco friendly adventure tips are a good place to start reducing your impact.
Barely a week goes by without a major news story about the environment. Although Donald Trump may disagree, the overwhelming scientific consensus from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is that mankind is causing the planet to warm.
We won’t go into the details here. If you are reading this I will assume you know about climate change, pollution, mountains of plastic, overfishing, biodiversity depletion, reduction in natural habitat and….
…well to be honest the list could go on and on. And it’s all rather depressing. But we want this article to be positive about eco friendly adventure tips you can put into action to help.
So how do we, the adventure sports community, do our bit to keep things green? Unlike other sports, everything we do is nature-specific. Be it on land, at sea, or in the air, we are bound to our environment.
As a community we can more easily see the impact of what we – and humanity as a whole – have. Other than the one in the snow, what footprint do we leave behind? Remember, it’s not just the responsibility of Surfers Against Sewage to clean up our beaches.
To help we’ve compiled this set of tips to help you start making action sports better for the environment. So before you get your rig ready, leave for the slopes or check your ‘D’ ring and ropes, have a quick read.
Since we can’t possibility cover all sports, let’s hear from you guys and gals.
Add your eco friendly adventure tips in the comments at the bottom to help the action sports community keep it green.
Oh and the below tips are only specific to the adventure and sports you get involved in. We won’t go on about using energy saving light bulbs, buying an Essentia Mattress, or changing your eating habits etc.
When you are out in the wild, on the beach or up a mountain there are things you can do:
This is very simple. Leave nothing behind but footprints. Take all your rubbish with you.
Go one step further and pick up other people’s rubbish. If everyone takes home something we’ll soon clean up the beautiful natural spaces. Even better arrange a full on litter pick.
Don’t buy bottled water, instead have a reusable bottle or bladder. Fill it up from taps – in most countries the tap water is perfectly safe. Put lunch in reusable tupperware rather than bags, cling film or foil.
Don’t wilfully damage plants and trees and try not to do anything that will impact the wildlife either. OK so you probably can’t avoid squashing a few plants or insects while hiking or biking but don’t do it deliberately. And obey signs, if an area is closed to protect flora or fauna respect it.
There are many different adventures you can have. However, it is clear that dirt biking will have a bigger impact on the environment than mountain biking, likewise skydiving is worse than kitesurfing.
So choose activities that are powered under your own steam, by the wind, waves or gravity. And if your sport of choice requires uplift try to find a resort powered by renewable energy.
A big part of making action sports better for the environment is reducing the impact of the gear we all use.
Adventure gear no longer living up to your expectations? Don’t just replace it with something new. Sew up holes, re-waterproof outerwear with Nikwax and fix up that old bike.
I personally have been using Nikwax for many years. There are products for baselayers, outerlayers, tents, footwear etc. All of which not only cleans and deodorises, but returns breathability and waterproofness to the original levels.
If your gear is beyond fixing up for your purposes don’t just bin it. Someone with lower funds, or lower expectations will welcome it for its original use. So hand it on, give it away to charity or even sell it on eBay.
Also think outside the box for other uses. Snowboards can be made into benches, old boots make good flower pots and neoprene from wetsuits can be used to make everything from booties to laptop protectors to insulating bottle holders.
In most cases you can’t recycle outdoor gear via the standard recycling collections or drop off points. However, there are companies out there specialising in recycling everything from down jackets to downhill bikes.
That new bit of gear you are considering buying. Do you just want it, or do you actually need it?
If it will become one of your collection of bikes or backpacks, kites or kayaks then consider making do with what you already have – spend the money on doing the activity instead.
OK so you absolutely must buy that new bit of kit. Don’t just automatically buy the cheapest, best or your favourite brand. Instead look for greener alternatives to help make action sports better for the environment.
I reviewed what is possibly the most eco friendly snowboard on the market and it was very good. There are environmentally conscious options for almost every bit of gear. If not then buy something that is made local to you.
Switch to rechargeable batteries for those adventure gadgets that can’t be charged via USB.
Choose cleaners and solutions that are biodegradable and non-toxic. That way when you wash your mountain bike you’re not sending the groundwater downhill.
Unfortunately most of us have to travel to do the activities we love. So a big part of making action sports better for the environment is reducing our impact getting there.
If you live local to where you can do your activity of choice then good for you. Now do everything you can not to drive there. Use public transport, jump on a bike or walk.
If you have lots of gear you need to transport to the beach – or elsewhere – it’s obviously easy to drive. But why not rent storage at the beach instead – you’ll probably save more in petrol and parking than it costs.
Rather than heading from London to Colorado for a ski holiday instead go to France, Austria or Italy. It is simple, the further you travel the bigger the impact your journey has on the environment.
Let’s face it, we are adventure sports enthusiasts not saints. When it comes to choosing your holiday destination you are going to head where is best for your activity and budget. But how you get there makes a big difference.
The least impactful method of travel depends on how far you are travelling and how many of you there are. But on the whole coach travel is the most efficient, with train also good. Economy flights are good for journeys over 1000 miles long and driving is efficient with three or more people.
There are also a few things you can do to indirectly make action sports better for the environment.
Lets get this straight carbon offsetting does not reduce your impact. The activities you do still produce the same greenhouse gases. However, you are paying to do something good that counteracts your environmental impact.
Typically carbon offsetting is either planting trees, or implementing greener practices in developing countries. It certainly doesn’t do any harm, but it is not as good as not reducing your impact.
As you get all your pleasure from nature, why not take other measures to reduce your emissions in everyday life? Do everything you can to be more environmentally friendly, and encourage others to do the same.
Then you won’t feel so guilty about a trip snowboarding in Japan, climbing in New Zealand or kitesurfing in Brazil. After all if you are into an adventure sport you will be getting your fix no matter what, but at least you can do so with a lower environmental impact.
We hope you found these eco friendly adventure tips useful. What do you suggest for making action sports better for the environment? Let us know in the comments below.