As much as we love adventuring, we don’t always realize that while practicing our favorite sport, we might also be threatening our playground. Pretty much every outdoor activity damages the environment in one way or another: rock climbing, skiing, hiking, skydiving…you name it. There are a few common negative ways in which all of these activities affect the environment.
Natural spaces are compromised to accommodate our journeys.
Green areas are constantly stripped of natural elements in order to welcome adventurous tourists and travelers. Plenty of trees have been cut off of mountains to build tracks and ski resorts and the excessive use of these sites compacts and erodes the soil and leaves permanent scars on the landscapes. However, it is way less damaging for the environment to use these designated spaces than to go explore the backcountry. That way, it does not double the impact we have. Using already existing campsites, or resistant surfaces like sand or rock when wild camping, is another good way to lower the impact of a journey.
Biodiversity and ecosystems are often disrupted.
While playing outside, we often meet and sometimes disturb wildlife, without always wanting to do so. For example, by climbing a route where there is a bird’s nest or by hiking near a bear’s den. These somehow minor encounters, when multiplied, have a huge impact on animals and their behaviors. Picking fruits, mushrooms, or any sorts of plants, also impacts ecosystems. The main idea when adventuring is to minimize what we change, that way the next person will be able to enjoy it as much as we did.
Engaging in outdoors activities can cause pollution.
Pollution occurs in all shapes and sizes on adventures. Noise and light contributes to that phenomenon, but air, soil and groundwater are the most affected aspects of nature. Most of this pollution takes source in our choices: what we bring, what we leave behind, what we use, etc. Things like leaving rubbish behind, setting a campfire at the wrong place or washing a pan with soap in a river have major consequences. Also, amazing journeys often ask for us to travel a few miles to reach them. Sharing a ride with fellow outdoor enthusiasts or taking public transportations reduces by far our greenhouse gas emissions while traveling.
There are lots of solutions to this problem and we are a key part to all of them. In order to drive change we have to engage in our community and understand what is going on. The outdoors teach us many valuable lessons and as skiers, climbers or any kind of outdoor sports enthusiasts, we have to do more and be role models to others. It is the only way to save our playground.
Now get outside, but play wisely.
- Marilou Sirois