6 Tips For Being A Mindful Park Citizen
National park visits reached record highs this past year as people looked for safely distanced escapes during Covid. As we celebrate Earth Day and the addition of a new National Park, we spoke with Keith Eshelman, founder of Parks Project, about their mission to protect and preserve parklands for generations.
"At Parks Project, we live by the motto 'Leave it better than you found it' and think we can all make a difference by being advocates for the planet," Eshelman told us. "We truly believe that we can all lend a hand in cleaning up our parklands on Earth Day to make an impact so we can enjoy healthy parks for years to come."
To date, Parks Project has contributed more than $1,300,000 to help fund vital projects in parks and address the increased foot traffic that has made trash build up in our parks a concerning, growing problem.
Photo courtesy of Parks Project
Parks Project recently launched Parks Project Clean Up Kits ($10), including Parks Project gloves, trash bag, and recycling bags. "Through the sale of our goods, every single purchase gives back to contribute to conservation projects in a national park," added Eshelman.
Planning a trip to a national or regional park this summer? Here are the Parks Project's "Leave No Trace" tips to make the least impact on the environment as possible when camping or visiting our breathtaking national parks.
1. Visit in small groups to minimize wear and tear on the land. Aim for groups of four to six people per visit.
2. Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when it's wet or muddy. Walking in a single file line ensures less impact on the land too.
3. Packout all trash, leftover food and litter (never burn trash!). Bring any trash out with you after visiting and plan ahead to reduce the amount of trash you have to pack in and out (see tip #4).
4. Repackage food to reduce what you "pack in" as well as "pack out." Keep it simple; for short trips, pack food that doesn't require cooking or additional waste.
5. Schedule your trip to avoid busy times. Summers can be really busy for national parks so planning trips in the off seasons allows for less of an impact on the land. Parks Project also recommends visiting lesser known spots that have less foot traffic. A few of favorites: Pinnacles National Park in California and North Cascades in Washington.
6. Remember, good campsites are found, not made. Be sure if you're staying overnight that you place your tent on durable surfaces and designated camping spots.;)
Happy Earth Day!
Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.