The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, a national organization that protects the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly, recently released new guidelines for social media as it relates to documenting our time spent in the outdoors. We like their suggestions a lot. (We may consider revising our course syllabus for Instagram For Skiers, 101.)
The organization, which aims to offer “a framework for making good decisions about enjoying the outdoors responsibly, regardless of how one chooses to do so,” says it hopes to encourage social media posts from outdoor spaces to include a message of stewardship as part of enjoying the outdoors responsibly.
“If outdoor enthusiasts stop and think about the potential impacts and associated consequences of a particular action, it can go a long way towards ensuring the protection of our shared outdoor spaces,” says Leave No Trace. “To that end, we encourage outdoor enthusiasts to stop and think about their actions and the potential consequences of posting pictures, GPS data, detailed maps, etc. to social media.”
When posting to social media, Leave No Trace asks us to consider the following:
Tag thoughtfully. Avoid tagging (or geotagging) specific locations. Instead, tag a general location such as a state or region, if any at all. While tagging can seem innocent, it can also lead to significant impacts to particular places. For skiers, it may also lead others to ski in terrain or conditions that are unsafe without the proper knowledge or equipment. For the last several years, Jackson Hole-based Exum Guides has been advising their guides and clients to use the hashtag #somewhereinthetetons to help avoid overcrowding.
Be mindful of what your images portray. Give some thought to what your images may encourage others to do. Images that demonstrate good Leave No Trace practices and stewardship are always in style. At POWDER, we’ve talked a lot about how the growing influence of social media has potentially put more skiers at risk, in addition to overpopulating certain areas.
Give back to places you love. Invest your own sweat equity into the outdoor spaces and places you care about. Learn about volunteer stewardship opportunities and get involved in the protection of our shared lands. For skiers, this could also mean enrolling in an avalanche class with the American Avalanche Institute or the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education, in order to explore the backcountry more safely. That’s basic backcountry ski etiquette.
Encourage and inspire Leave No Trace in social media posts. Given the millions of social media users in the world, think of the incredible potential that social media has to educate outdoor enthusiast—first timers to seasoned adventurers—about enjoying our wild lands responsibly.