Giving Back to the Great Outdoors: 15 Sustainable Ways to Show Your Appreciation for Nature

As someone who’s grown up adventuring in the captivating landscapes of Western New York, the great outdoors has always been my playground, my place of solace, and my endless source of wonder. Every trail hiked, every mountain climbed, and every stream crossed, has etched a memory, sculpting my reverence for nature. Now, more than ever, I feel the pull to not only enjoy this immense beauty but also to give back and ensure these natural wonders remain vibrant for generations to come.

From this passion was born a journey to understand how we, as individuals, can contribute to the preservation of the natural world that gifts us such joy and healing. The result of this journey is an exploration of 15 sustainable ways we can all show our gratitude and give back to the great outdoors. I’m excited to share these insights with you, hoping that they inspire you, as they did me, to take action and cherish our shared natural heritage.

1. Practice Leave No Trace Principles

Leave No Trace (LNT) is a set of guidelines developed by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to promote sustainable outdoor activities. The principles emphasize respect for wildlife, consideration for other visitors, and above all, leaving no trace of your visit.

2. Participate in Clean-Up Events

Join clean-up events organized by organizations such as Ocean Conservancy or the Sierra Club. These events are an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded individuals while contributing to a cleaner environment.

3. Donate to Conservation Organizations

Consider making a financial contribution to conservation organizations. Many organizations, such as the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund, rely on donations to fund their conservation efforts.

4. Plant Trees

Planting trees is an effective way to fight climate change and restore natural habitats. Organizations like One Tree Planted make it easy to contribute to reforestation efforts worldwide.

5. Choose Sustainable Gear

Opt for outdoor gear from companies committed to sustainability. Brands like Patagonia and REI offer high-quality, eco-friendly products and contribute to various environmental causes.

6. Recycle Your Gear

Instead of throwing away your old gear, consider donating or recycling it. The North Face’s Clothes the Loop program is one such initiative that accepts used outdoor wear.

7. Support National Parks

Support national parks by visiting them, volunteering, or donating. The National Park Foundation offers various ways to give back to these natural treasures.

8. Educate Others

Use your platform to educate others about the importance of protecting the great outdoors. Share educational resources from platforms like National Geographic or PBS Nature.

9. Become a Citizen Scientist

Contribute to scientific research through citizen science projects. Platforms like Zooniverse offer a variety of projects you can participate in from home.

10. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Minimize your impact on the environment by following the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The EPA offers plenty of information on how to incorporate these practices into your daily life.

11. Advocate for the Environment

Speak up for the environment. Whether it’s participating in local politics or supporting environmental legislation, your voice can make a difference. Websites like GovTrack can help you stay informed about environmental legislation.

12. Eat Sustainably

Eating locally-grown, plant-based foods can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Websites like Local Harvest can help you find farmers’ markets and other local food sources.

13. Save Water

Water is a precious resource. Simple changes in your daily habits can help save hundreds of gallons of water each year. Check out Water Use It Wisely for tips on water conservation.

14. Volunteer Your Time

Volunteer for conservation projects in your local community. The National Wildlife Federation offers volunteer opportunities across the U.S.

15. Inspire Others

Finally, inspire others by sharing your love for the great outdoors. Share your adventures on social media, write a blog post, or simply talk to your friends about the importance of nature conservation.

The great outdoors offers us countless adventures and learning experiences. By giving back, we can ensure that future generations can also enjoy these precious natural resources.