7 tips for sustainable hiking
Hiking in harmony with nature
It's no secret: we love hiking! Hiking in the mountains, across meadows and fields or even along the beach or the waterfront. But the more people are out and about, the greater the impact on nature. Especially in South Tyrol, which has almost crossed the border into mass tourism, the effects are already noticeable.
We have therefore thought about it: What can we do today so that in 10 or 20 years we will still be able to enjoy the beautiful nature of the Alps while hiking?
Environmentally friendly hiking with respect for nature, wildlife and fellow human beings is not that difficult.
With the following 7 tips for sustainable hiking, you'll be well prepared and protect nature at the same time.
Environmentally friendly journey
Do you want to go hiking in a region that is well served by public transport? Are these accessible without barriers? If possible, use public transport such as buses, trains, hiking buses or cable cars to get there and to your destination.
Of course, this is easy to say and often difficult with a handicap. Nevertheless, it is worth looking for hiking regions that offer barrier-free means of transport or taxi services, etc. In the Pustertal, for example, you can easily get from place to place by train, as many of the stations and the train itself are barrier-free. The same applies to the railway in Vinschgau.
If you want to go hiking in a more remote area, there are now many taxis that also transport wheelchairs. These are not public transport, but it is definitely more environmentally friendly than driving your own car. For pedestrians, carpooling or a hotel drop-off service might be an option.
Catering without packaging waste
Most of the rubbish that can be found by the wayside of popular hiking trails is from us hikers. But packaging waste can be avoided very easily: Healthy snacks like apples or pears don't need any packaging at all if you take them along in a lunch box or stow them in a compartment of your backpack where they won't get squashed. Sandwiches or sandwiches can also be prepared quickly and transported perfectly in a lunch box. The pre-packaged sandwiches from the supermarket or kiosk only taste half as good anyway.
If you hike a lot, especially in warm regions like South Tyrol, you should also drink a lot. So take a water bottle with you! Preferably one that can be refilled. In South Tyrol you will find small drinking fountains along most hiking trails where you can refill your bottle.
By the way, stainless steel drinking bottles are an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic and glass bottles and also have the effect of keeping the temperature of the drink as stable as possible.
Take your rubbish back with you.
Sustainable hiking means leaving as few traces as possible in nature. This also means taking all your rubbish back to your accommodation and disposing of it properly. Use a small rubbish bag that you can stow in your rucksack.
In principle, you should take all rubbish back with you, including natural waste such as tangerine or banana peelings. Fruit is often heavily contaminated with pesticides, so it doesn't rot as quickly and pollutes the environment. And let's be honest, who wants to spend their snack among the apple casings and bread scraps of other hikers?
I see - handkerchiefs or even toilet paper have no place in nature. Rubbish is just rubbish!
Buy hiking equipment sustainably.
Sustainability in hiking equipment is also an important topic. Basically, the less we buy and consume new things, the more environmentally friendly our behaviour is.
Just because you've just discovered hiking doesn't mean you need the fanciest new hiking jacket from brand XY. Instead, rent equipment such as backpacks, rain jackets, etc. locally first.
If hiking is an integral part of your life, as it is for us, then look for good quality when choosing your hiking gear. High-quality products are designed for frequent use in wind and weather and are therefore particularly durable. You may be able to repair small defects yourself or have them repaired in a specialist shop. With good care, you can use your hiking equipment for years, maybe even decades.
In the meantime, there are also many suppliers who rely on sustainable or recycled raw materials, such as Patagonia, Maloja or Vaude.
Respect game and grazing animals.
Being out and about in a sustainable way also means being considerate towards wildlife. As hikers, we are only guests.
Therefore, you should not leave the marked paths and avoid noise. For the protection of wildlife, you should avoid walking at dusk or even after dark. And of course it goes without saying that you should not feed or touch wild and grazing animals.
In winter, in hot weather, in the breeding season and during the rutting or mating season, it is particularly important that we hikers are even more sensitive to not disturbing animals. This also applies to the supposedly perfect photo, for which all known rules are sometimes forgotten.
By the way, grazing animals also means cows!
Do not change nature
Respect for your environment also means not taking anything with you when you go hiking or not changing nature.
In nature, every stone, every blade of grass, every flower has its place. So leave these things where they are! Don't harm the environment by carving your initials into the bark of a tree, for example.
We are only guests in nature! Imagine someone walking through your house and suddenly starting to move furniture or paint the walls. Not exactly a good feeling.
(That reminds me - maybe I should tell my mother that).
The appeal of a hike lies in experiencing nature. Enjoying the surroundings on the hike and not just bolting towards the hut.
In order to preserve nature for ourselves, it can also mean that we avoid well-known hiking areas and go hiking in regions that are not so heavily frequented.
Because where there are many hikers, the impact on nature is many times greater.
Hiking in harmony with nature is easy and possible
As you can see, it's not that difficult to behave more sustainably when hiking. A few small changes here and there and we can continue to experience nature.
Do you have any tips that we haven't listed here? What are your experiences with overtourism?