Don’t Post It: Movement Proposes 8th ‘Leave No Trace’ Principle

Stop sharing your adventures on social media before we love wild spaces to death. A new movement wants ‘leave no trace’ to add this 8th principle.

social media sharing 8th leave no trace principle
Photo by Alejandro on Unsplash

‘Going viral’ is killing the outdoors. At least, it’s starting to, according to a veritable laundry list of stories compiled by “Hikers for an 8th Leave No Trace Principle.” The blog, launched this month, urges the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to amend its guidelines for conserving the outdoors.

The group is “increasingly concerned about the negative impacts that the publicity afforded by social media brings to some of our beloved — and vulnerable — natural places.”

As such, it wants the Leave No Trace code to adopt an eighth principle that would mitigate the effects of social posting from pristine places.

Leave No Trace: 8th Principle?

We’ve all seen it: that once-in-a-lifetime selfie with an awe-inspiring backdrop, from a mountaintop, a secluded lake, or a sun-speckled rainforest. It inspires wanderlust and drives us to get out there!

Hikers for an 8th Leave No Trace Principle believes that’s a growing problem. Many of us are going out there. And that increased traffic slowly degrades and destroys those places.

According to its blog: “The ability to enjoy nature unspoiled by inconsiderate crowds, trash, and misuse should belong to all lovers of outdoor recreation.”

A sign at Hanging Lake, above, explicitly states to “please keep off the log,” which has been largely ignored in social media photos.

To that end, it proposes the following examples of an eighth principle:

  • Be mindful when posting on social media and consider the potential impacts that rapidly increased use can have on wild places.
  • Use discretion when posting on social media and consider the potential impacts of creating a ‘buzz’ about specific destinations.

Currently, Leave No Trace sets forth seven principles for sustainable enjoyment of the outdoors.

  1. Plan ahead
  2. Stay on “durable surfaces” like trails and campsites
  3. Dispose of waste properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimize campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of other visitors

Open Letter: 8th Leave No Trace Principle

Hikers for an 8th Leave No Trace Principle isn’t suggesting fewer people should explore or embark on adventure. Its aim appears to modernize the Leave No Trace ethos to address a growing 21st-century issue.

“We are not elitists. We are not secret keepers,” the blog states. “We simply love natural places and want to see them responsibly enjoyed and responsibly shared.”

If you agree with the need for an eighth principle, you can email Leave No Trace: info@LNT.org, or send a letter: Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, P.O. Box 997, Boulder, CO 80306.

Hikers for an 8th Principle has an open letter you can download or copy. But if you send a personalized letter, Hikers reminds readers to “be polite!”

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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie – from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it’s outside, it’s worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.

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