A walk in the woods, a stroll around the park, or a bike ride along the coast are all great ways to meditate and recharge. But sometimes, the natural places we love can fall into disrepair and their beauty can start to fade.
This can be depressing, but there are things you can do to make sure the places you love stay beautiful for generations to come.
1. Pick up litter.
One way to help is to bring a bag with you every time you go along your usual route and pick up any litter you see. Of course, safety comes first. Don’t pick up broken glass or hazardous waste unless you have the means to do so and dispose of them safely. But even just picking up a small bag of litter every time you’re outside will go a long way.
2. Don’t add any litter.
Don’t contribute to the litter. If you’re walking your dog, bring a poo bag. If you’re eating something with a wrapper, put the wrapper in your pocket until you can find a trash can. If you accidentally drop something, pick it up. Teach your friends and family to do the same.
3. Take pictures of it, but not things.
In addition to not littering, don’t take things from the environment, especially if the place you’re visiting is sacred to a culture, even if that culture is not your own. If the place you’re visiting is a significant distance from home, this is especially important to keep in mind because invasive plants and insects are a serious problem.
4. Take time to appreciate nature.
Take some time to sit in complete silence for a while. Observe everything around you and keep an eye out for normally-shy creatures that might call the place home.
While this alone might not actively help the ecosystem, it will show you that the place you visit isn’t just a pretty backdrop. It’s somebody else’s home.
Even if you don’t see any animals, taking time to slow down and appreciate each small detail will encourage you not to take natural places for granted.
5. Stay on track!
Stick to established trails, whether they’re made by humans or by wildlife. That way, you’re less likely to trample delicate foliage or disturb an animal’s home. There are a lot of little things in an ecosystem that can be affected by your actions, so it’s best to be considerate of the other creatures that call the place home.
6. Be aware of your environment.
Keep up to date on environmental news. The local environmental center is a great resource for this and can even provide volunteer opportunities. Try to get involved if you can because contributing to the health of the planet can lead to a greater connection to it. In the future you can look at the thriving ecosystem and say “I helped make that.”
If you use a place often and get joy from it, it’s important to give back so that others can feel that same joy.
In the same way one would tip a waiter or a housekeeper, one should give back to the planet.