As the snow starts to melt, and the flowers begin to bloom, springtime becomes the best time to enjoy the outdoors. And what better way to enjoy the outdoors then to plan a trip to a national park? The natural wonders of America are available to anyone who wants to visit, and nature is usually abundant and untouched. Or so you thought.


With all the visitors, about 270 million each year, comes their combined 100 million pounds of trash*. And this is only for our national parks. Imagine the amount of trash we produce in our hometowns and cities!


Good thing sustainability has become better understood and more easily practiced. Transferring sustainability habits from our homes to the national parks is as easy as being more conscious of the environment. There are no extra steps involved to go green, contrary to belief. Being green ma actually be easier than not, and in the long run not only do you help save our country’s national parks, you also save yourself a little extra money in the process.


Below are a few tips* to take with you when traveling to any national park. Keep these in mind when you come home, as they can easily become sustainable practices in your daily life.


  • Bring reusable water bottles and coffee cups: Wash them out when needed; you eliminate unnecessary waste at the parks when you only need one cup for your entire trip.
  • Bring reusable bags for storage, carrying items, and for buying items at the parks: You will only throw away the plastic one once you are done with it, so why bother? Bring or buy a bag while at the park, which are usually more sturdy than plastic and can double as your souvenir.
  • Recycle waste in cities before or after visiting the parks: Dead batteries? Have a ripped tent? Did you drink plenty of soda or iced tea? Don’t drop them off at the nearest parks trashcan. Take them home with you, and recycle them.
  • Do not burn waste in campfires: this one is obvious, but once you burn food or trash in a fire, doesn’t mean it disappears. The toxins released by the waste float in the air and into your lungs. They are dangerous, and should not be inhaled by anyone, including the wildlife.
  • Use the air dryers in the restrooms: they are much more efficient at drying off your hands than a paper towel. And if the added few seconds are too much for you to handle, just remember that the monuments you came to the parks for will not go anywhere. Take your time and save waste by using air dryers. If none are available, go eau natural and wave your hands about until dry.
  • Support park composting: when done with your daily meals, throw the trash away (or better yet recycle) but separate the food for compost before throwing it in with the rest of the trash. Composting transforms organic waste into usable fertilizer. Giving back to nature just got easier.


The next time you visit a national park, respect the nature preserved for over a hundred years and do your part. These steps are not the only ways to help out, but are the basics to providing a more healthy and green-conscious environment.

*Statistics taken from National Geographic: Sustainable Steps for Parks Preservation



Article written by: Nicole Scheurer