Remember when I said that camping and hiking is for everyone? Well I was wrong. It’s not for you.

Meaning that if you’re arrogant, indifferent and lazy towards nature, just stay indoors.

Sweet selfies atop high ridges, super dinners at campfires and handy wet wipes.

All three encourage you to go enjoy but also destroy nature. More often than not, the marked trail doesn’t go all the way to the top but there’s a man-made balcony for your viewing pleasure and for the moss’ and plants’ protection. And yet, I see trash and signs of climbing where none should be. Oh, you just stepped on a rare plant? Screw you, Mother Nature, right?

A three course meal is often in multiple wrappers that spews black smoke when burned. Not to mention the tin foil balls in the ashes or the wet wipes that decompose slowly or not at all.

Experience doesn’t always equal wisdom but the truth is that this rant is mainly directed at newcomers. Hopefully that’s just someone who hasn’t had the chance to acquaint themselves with the rules and guidelines.

However, this is one of the worst crazes:

There’s this one phenomenon where people collect dog feces into plastic bags but leave the bags into the wild.

-Nature Supervisor Pentti Kesäniemi in Yle News

You need to bring the waste and the bags back with you! I know it’s not fun but come on!

I’m known to bringing bags of outdoor meals into our long hikes. But what I don’t do is wash my pasta-stained utensils in a fell creek with soap and I always, always bring everything back with me. Every photo we take is from a place you’re allowed to take photos. And sure, we’ve had wet wipes but again, we always bring them back with us. When it comes to outhouse behavior, we use regular toilet paper.

What I’d like you to do is take a moment after posting that picture on Instagram about your outdoor meal and pick up after yourself.

So where did I get this need for a rant? A few days ago I received a notification on my Yle Uutisvahti App about this news article where they told about how popular trekking has become. Which is nice but every coin has two sides and as a Metsähallitus volunteer I’ve seen the darker side of it. The resources are limited and with the increase in popularity comes a new set of challenges when it comes to prioritization: who cleans the outhouses, who picks up the litter and who’s responsible for organizing and constructing the gravel roads for sustainable durability.

It’s not fun to find leftovers and discarded pans behind huts.

I’ve registered as Waste-free hiking sponsor for Metsähallitus and Finnish Hiking Guild. It’s a campaign to promote waste-free trekking that goes back several years. Sponsor number 3, Milja of Pipo silmillä blog, kindly told us about this whole thing.

Just call me Waste-free hiking sponsor #20. My job is to encourage you to bring back all the wrappers and cans and containers with you and if you can, urge others to do the same. Picking up a trash or two a day keeps you vigilant.

This whole thing has weighed on me for quite some time now, to be honest. I suppose it took a news article to kick me into gear. I feel guilty for encouraging you to go outside more when some of you should start from basic recycling etiquette before even considering it.

For shame! If you’re one of them people who say stuff like no one’s going to see this trash bag behind this rock or I’ll just use the canister in the wilderness hut or someone else will pick that up. Someone else will but if they didn’t have to do so many maintenance runs on ATVs, the parks would have less tire tracks and the money could be spent in more important projects. Let’s take care of our Mother Nature, huh?

As a sponsor I’ve been thinking about a whole event dedicated to waste-free hiking but more on that later. Because there are so many of us here in Middle Finland, we might just join forces! The point is, you won’t make it through the 100th year without said events and my rants about preserving nature.

//Anne

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