Don't Trash the Environment

Trash outdoors
It’s no secret that Americans generate a lot of trash. Millions of tons of it every year. Not all of it ends up in garbage cans, either. Our streets are littered with cigarette butts, gum wrappers, and other trash. Sadly, our parks and other recreational areas are also cluttered with this stuff.

As a conscientious 4-wheeler, you adhere to the Tread Lightly! philosophy. One of its core principles implores you to leave an area in as good or better condition as you found it. You know you’ll be taking supplies with you, so what can you do about your garbage and trash?

This whole process starts even before you leave home. The best way to minimize the amount of trash you generate is to eliminate as much packaging as possible. Take cereal, for example. You don’t need that big box with you. Pack just the bag of cereal inside. A rubber band will keep the bag closed, and you can use the rubber band for other things. Ditto for the plastic bag. If you eat up all your cereal, fold up the bag for future use.

Some products, such as glue and batteries, often come with extra packaging. The individual unit(s) are blister-packed onto a larger package. Take out the one or two items you need for your trip, and leave the rest, including all the packaging, behind.

Beverages present other opportunities for creative packing. If you’re a wine drinker, transfer the wine to a soft plastic container or the Platypus Platy Preserve Wine Preserver Bladder. The wine tastes just as good, and you’re not stuck with an empty bottle. Plus, as noted above, you can use the bladder to hold other stuff if you manage to polish off your wine.

Glass bottles present a real challenge. They break easily, and take up lots of space. In fact, some public lands prohibit glass containers. When possible, consider buying beverages that come in aluminum cans. Once emptied, you can crush them into mini-pancakes for easy storage.

Steel (“tin”) cans also are a bit of a hassle. They don’t crush down well, so unless you can find a new use for empty cans, you’re stuck with bulky trash.

Many folks like to cook while off road. You can save on waste and packaging there, too. Chop or cut up your onions, peppers, carrots, and whatnot at home, taking only the amounts you need for your weekend meal(s). You save space and have less garbage left over.

I found this Tortoise in Johnson Valley
Food waste presents a special problem for the outdoors. It takes up space, and attracts unwanted critters to the campsites. You’ve heard of the grizzly bears in Yellowstone digging through Dumpsters and climbing into people’s cars. Out here in the southwest, we have a real problem with ravens. Their populations are soaring (700 percent in the past 25 years) because too many people are leaving food waste at their campsites. It doesn’t take much. A few crumbs or morsels at each site add up to a lot of food.

What’s the big deal with ravens? Other than a nuisance, ravens are a major threat to the tortoises. Until it is about five or six years old, a tortoise’s shell isn’t hard enough to protect the animal. A raven can easily puncture the shell and munch away.

Consider reusing your drinking water, when possible. The water used to wash potatoes and other vegetables, for example, can be used to clean your dishes. Afterward, that water contains chunks of food which, as noted above, attracts ravens and other critters. Strain the water through a commercial-size coffee filter or similar product to remove the food particles. Pour that water on your campfire ashes to make sure they’re out.

What about burning trash? That’s a bad idea, too. For starters, it is tough on the environment. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality addressed this issue in its brochure titled, “Don’t Burn Trash at Your Campsite”:

“Burning trash, even paper, can release acidic gases, heavy metals, particulates, and toxic chemicals such as dioxin into the environment.”

Further, trash burning is a significant cause of wild fires, and the ash can contaminate soil and groundwater. If you must burn anything, use a fire pan so you can collect the ashes and throw them away when you get home. Many areas now require the use of a fire pan even for campfires.

There is a new product on the market that makes it even easier to haul your trash out. The Trasharoo carries up to 50 pounds of trash on your spare tire. A 30 gallon trash bag will fit inside and the sturdy Trasharoo is lashed to the tire so it does not flop around like a burlap bag. www.trasharoo.com

Finally, make a point to pick up trash you see along the way. Unlike hikers and backpackers, you have lots of extra room for trash. And as an off-road driver, you are held accountable for the garbage out there. It may not be fair, but that’s reality. Plus, we want to show everyone else that we are good stewards of the land. Leave your area in better condition than when you arrived. You’ll feel better, and our hobby will be better for it.

Related Articles at Badlands Off-Road Adventures


Tread Trainer Clinic January 9, 2010

Tread Class Example

There is a Tread Lightly! Tread Trainer Clinic Jan 9, 2010 You are encouraged to sign up for the Tread Lightly! Tread Trainer Certification Clinic. This is a one day course. There is a minimal fee of $25 to cover class materials and handouts. It requires a commitment to teaching and spreading the word about Tread Lightly! Principles and outdoor ethics.

You can find out more details on line at http://www.4x4training.com/TrainingClinics/Tread.html .

And register on line at http://4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Tread.


Spotting Clinic January 10

Spotting Class Example

When do you need to spot another vehicle? Whenever there is high risk of vehicle damage, personal injury, loss of vehicle control, or potential roll over, you need to spot. On a long difficult trip, fatigue sets in and the ability to pick lines quickly fades along with confidence. At these times, less experienced drivers need to be spotted. After a close call, a driver may need to be spotted on subsequent obstacles.

Are your skills up to the challenge? The Spotting Clinic provides practical experience and instruction. You will learn spotting etiquette, hand signals and when to spot. You will learn what to watch and how to communicate with the driver. You will learn your role and responsibility. Most importantly, the clinic allows time to practice and fine tune your spotting skills. You know, that without experience no one wants you as a spotter and not being allowed to spot you never gain experience! More Details...

You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Spotting


Rocks Clinic January 30

Rocks Clinic Example

The Janurary Class will be in Johnson Valley. This is an introduction to Rock crawling but it is not on "baby" rocks. We take out time and stress careful wheel placement. We use spotters for difficult sections. You learn by inspecting the obstacle and predicting the line; by watching others try their line; by experiencing it yourself; and by the coaching. We recommend you repeat the training several times. You will be much more relaxed the second time over the same obstacles and you will pick up on little details missed the first time. More Details...

You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Rocks


Easter Safari March 29, 2010


Sign up for Easter Safari March 29 – April 2, 2010 It seems a long ways away, but all the trail rides are assigned by lottery. The submission date for the lottery is somewhere about the end of January. Most hotels, RV parks and camp grounds need to be reserved this month. They are all close to being sold out.

So if you think you might want to go to the Easter Safari this year with Badlands Off-Road Adventures, you need to register soon at http://4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#EJS.

A few pictures: http://4x4training.com/images/Moab/Moabpicture.html

Check out http://4x4training.com/Adventures/EasterSafari/EJSMain.html

You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#EJS

I hope to see you on the trails!

Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Make it Safe.


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Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2009, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

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