In our dreams, we would get to live like a Trail Ragnarian every day. We’d camp out in some of the most beautiful places in the world waiting for dinner and coffee to magically appear. We’d hit the trails at various times throughout the day (and night) and only have cell service sporadically. And, our carbon footprint would be extremely low. But, eventually, real life calls and we have to head back to reality. However, this doesn’t mean you have to ditch your sustainability efforts. Here are five steps to help you be sustainable every day.
One: Bring Your Own
Start by vowing to never buy another plastic water bottle or to-go cup again. Then, get some reusable water bottles and travel mugs. Americans use 50 billion to-go cups and 25 billion plastic water bottles a year. Vowing to #BringYourOwn is a large step in producing less waste. Plus, it saves you valuable money. Using one reusable water bottle over several hundred plastic water bottles can save you up to $1,400 a year and many coffee shops offer a discount for bringing your own cup. And, travel mugs and water bottles look much cooler than the alternative.
Two: Buy Bulk
Even if you aren’t feeding an entire team of people who just ran their second leg, you can still buy in bulk. In doing so, you’ll produce less waste than if you bought individually wrapped items. Plus, you can hide the amount of chocolate you actually ate if your trash bin isn’t filled with 15 wrappers from fun-sized Kit-Kats.
Three: See What You Can Recycle/ Compost
You can recycle and compost more than you think. Check with your local recycling and compost centers to see what materials you can put in your curbside bins. If your city doesn’t do curbside pickup, see if there are drop-off centers near you. If you are still throwing items away, look for specialized upcycle or recycle companies that will take your waste. TerraCycle will collect your chip, candy, gum and other wrappers to be transformed into bags, backpacks, benches, plant pots and more. You can also recycle electronics, outdoor gear, cars and tires. Everyone hates taking the trash out. Now, you won’t have to.
Four: Use Renewable Energy
The sun can do a lot more than give you that perfect summer glow and give you that extra boost during your third leg. Let the sun power everything in your life. Make the commitment to install solar panels at your house, or use Goal Zero to take small steps in that direction. Goal Zero makes products that will charge everything from your cell phone to your refrigerator. In addition to decreasing the fossil fuels used to power a home, solar power will save you money in the long run. Doesn’t everything look a bit brighter now?
Five: Leave no Trace
It’s time you learn, your mom is no longer going to pick-up after you. And just like your roommate despises you for not doing your dishes, nature will despise you even more. Make the promise to leave as little impact on nature as possible, so that the areas you love are just as beautiful for generations to come. Then, do this on every trail run, camping trip, backpacking trip, hike, mountain bike ride, ski tour and snowshoe that you ever go on. Here are some ways you can reduce your impact:
- Pick-up your trash and dispose of it properly. (Brownie points if you pick-up trash you see that isn’t yours)
- Stay on the trail
- Camp on durable surfaces
- Leave nature in nature. (Yes, that rock is pretty, but doesn’t some kid in 2040 deserve to see it too?)
- Minimize the impact of campfires by having them in designated areas.
- Respect wildlife (you’re in their home).
From the Pacific Northwest and Ragnar Trail Rainier-WA to Southern California and Ragnar Trail Los Coyotes-CA to the South and Ragnar Trail Alafia-FL and everywhere in between, Ragnarians can come together to help the environment. What are your sustainability tips? Read more about Ragnar Trail sustainability efforts here.