Mantova • Campo Canoa
7-9 giugno 2024

Mantova • Campo Canoa
7-9 giugno 2024

Leave no trace manifesto

mercoledì, 5 Giugno, 2024

When you’re on a bike trip or a long trail, when you’re in an endless forest… how do you make sure you leave no trace?

My scientific training has taught me that everything we leave behind has an impact: nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything is transformed. With this premise, I see everything I do as a legacy, welcomed or unwelcome depending on the circumstances.
Among the good outdoor practices, there are various tips and instructions for being welcomed guests in nature. I sought the scientific explanations for each of them because the true reason behind certain behaviors often escapes us.
For example, let’s talk about waste, a topic particularly close to my heart. We’ve all been to a mountain refuge and seen the sign “take your waste back down with you.” The concept is the same: it’s not only a warning not to abandon waste but also an invitation to take responsibility for our own trash. If it’s (fairly) clear when it comes to paper and bottles, the attention to organic waste, from food scraps to banana peels to our bodily waste, is less obvious.
Take the banana peel, for instance. The quintessential cyclist’s fruit, seemingly harmless if left behind, is not a native fruit, and its decomposition time ranges from a few months to a couple of years depending on the local temperatures. Thus, it can disrupt the balance of an ecosystem. Nature is very good at restoring its balance, and nothing would happen if these episodes were sporadic. However, cycling is no longer a niche phenomenon, with over 9 million homo pedalis traversing Italian roads and trails, potentially throwing banana peels into the environment. Without delving into numbers, even our excrement is waste that can alter an ecosystem and disturb local inhabitants, both human and animal. If you really need to relieve yourself, avoid watercourses; stay away from streams, but also from brooks and ponds in the woods. A friend who is an environmental hiking guide explained why: wetlands are rich in biodiversity, making them particularly fragile and sensitive to changes. For example, they are the preferred habitat for salamanders to lay their larvae. A small change in water composition and temperature (like that caused by urine) is a shock that jeopardizes their entire reproduction. On this topic, I strongly wanted to make a video, “How to Poop in the Woods.” Watch it!
The good news is that everything is in our hands, and we can play an active role in ensuring the longevity of our love for bike adventures. After you, someone else will pass through that place, and finding clean places and welcoming communities when we travel is a right for everyone.
Sign the #LeaveNoTrace manifesto:

About Barbara Bonori
With a degree in environmental engineering, she is a consultant, organizer of sustainable events, and cyclist. At home, she has six bikes, a boyfriend, and a DJ console. Her homeland is Emilia, and it sticks with her even though she has lived in Milan for over 20 years. While pedaling, she founded Upcycle Bike Café, Italy’s first bike cultural bistro.