How Do You Hit the Trail?
Shelby Kaplan, Lemonade | June 1, 2022 | 8 min read
in honor of National Trails Day and, well, appreciating nature in all its forms every day!
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being in nature and enjoying the great outdoors. Your journey with Mother Nature can take so many forms — whether that’s soaking up the sun from the comfort of your nearest park, or taking public transit or your car to your favorite trailhead.
The natural world gives us so much — from the resources we use every day (sometimes without even realizing it) to the fresh air we breathe and the wilderness excursions that fill us with joy and wonder. We’re major advocates of going out and enjoying nature, especially hiking trails, and we’re just as serious about protecting the environment in return. Here’s how you can do the same.
Help preserve the places you love
Growing up, you probably learned the “golden rule”: Treat others the way you want to be treated. This same principle of showing respect and care can, and should, apply to how we treat the environment.
But how can you know how to treat the environment if nature can’t “tell” you what it wants? For the great outdoors, the love languages are “leave no trace” and restoration. The former is about leaving a place as good, or better, than you found it. The latter is about helping maintain and repair what’s there. When combined, you can help preserve the open spaces and trails you love for generations to come.
Here are a few ways you can show Mother Nature some love with boots on the ground:
- Obviously you should never throw trash on or near a hiking trail. But you can take it one step further and pick up trash that was left behind by others (and make sure you throw it in a secure bin, especially if there’s one that’s designated as safe for the wildlife in the area). You can take this even a step further and sign on to the 2022 National Trails Day Pledge to leave the trails and the outdoor community better than you found them.
- Join or organize an event dedicated to the restoration of your favorite trails. The American Hiking Society provides more details on how you can get involved here.
- Become a Tree Ambassador with One Tree Planted. As part of this community of nature lovers, you can organize, fund, and lead your own local tree-planting initiative. This way, you can quite literally plant seed-lings that will help restore forests, create habitat for biodiversity, and make a positive social impact for local communities.
Call on government officials and businesses to divest from fossil fuels
Individual actions are a great way to get your hands dirty, sometimes literally, and they really do have the power to make an impact. Unfortunately, helping save the environment can’t be just a one-person job.
It takes collective action to really make a difference for our beloved outdoor spaces, especially in the face of the climate crisis. The National Parks Conservation Association has said that climate change is the greatest threat the national parks have ever faced. This snapshot from the US Environmental Protection Agency demonstrates the devastating effects of climate change on America’s forests.
It is common knowledge that activities around fossil fuels are the biggest contributors to climate change globally. So, now it’s more important than ever to hold your representatives and favorite brands accountable to divest from the fossil fuel industry.
For example, as of 2018 the 40 largest U.S. insurers held over $450 billion in coal, oil, gas, and electric utility stocks and bonds. This staggering statistic isn’t meant to scare you, but rather to show the room for major, and urgent, changes for the better. Before Lemonade, no other US insurance company had publicly forsworn investment in fossil fuels.
This is an important first step, but it’s only the beginning. That’s why Lemonade, along other private sector partners, are calling on the business community to demand that fellow insurers stop both underwriting and investing in fossil fuels. You can join the fight by calling on your favorite brands to commit to sustainable business practices and sign on to encourage US insurers to divest from the fossil fuel industry.
Decarbonize your adventures
As an outdoor enthusiast that cares about the state of the climate, you might face a dilemma when you’re trying to get to your favorite outdoor spaces and trails (especially the ones that are located off the beaten path). In many cases, you may need to drive a car to get there. And that car might not be fully electric — yet.
Whenever possible, you can try to reduce your carbon footprint en route to your great outdoors adventure. And if there’s an option to take public transportation or carpool, it can have less of an impact on the climate than riding solo in your personal car.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has stated that personal cars are a major contributor to climate change, with cars and trucks jointly contributing about 20% of all emissions in the US. It’s a bit of a bummer to realize that your journey to enjoy and appreciate nature has a serious downside: the carbon emissions required to bring you to your favorite wild spaces.
When Lemonade recently launched their own car insurance, they were faced with this same paradox. Since it’s not really possible to reform the entire automotive and fossil fuel industries in a day, they decided that at the very least, driving a car and being eco-conscious shouldn’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Lemonade partners with One Tree Planted as a major feature of their car insurance experience. It works like this: when you buy a Lemonade Car policy, the insurer tracks your CO2 emissions based on the miles you drive. Then One Tree Planted takes the wheel to plant trees in your name to help clean up your emissions. You could also be rewarded with extra savings if you’re a low-mileage driver or if you drive a hybrid or electric car.
Demand outdoor equity for all
People from every corner of the US and from all walks of life should have the opportunity to experience and learn about the natural world. This might seem simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, nature and the outdoors are still not easily accessible to all Americans.
There are quite a few reasons that discourage, if not bar, people from hitting the trail — like socioeconomic status, institutional racism, and disability.
Advocating for and highlighting diversity and inclusion in education, stewardship, and recreation around the environment can bring a more enjoyable experience to all Americans that want to connect with nature. Access and representation are key. After all, the environment should be a place where everyone can feel welcome and safe.
You can take action for better outdoor access and representation for all in ways big or small, nationally or locally:
- Get involved with the diversity outdoors movement.
- Check out the status and updates of government initiatives — like the Outdoor F.U.T.U.R.E. initiative, Great American Outdoors Act, Outdoors For All, Active Transportation Act, and Transit to Trail Act. Advocate for the ones that most align with your values.
- Support outdoor brands that help widen access to the outdoors — like The North Face, who plans to invest $7 million in diversifying the outdoors through its new Explore Fund Council.
Time to hit the trail…
Whether it’s National Trails Day or any ordinary day, being in nature can be a great way to soothe your mind, body, and soul (you can check out some of Lemonade’s favorite trails in the US here). So, why not give back to the places that give us so much while also making sure that everybody can access them now and in the future? Take the time to learn about, enjoy, and protect our beloved Mother Earth. Because at the end of the day, she’s the only one we have.
About the Author
Shelby Kaplan is an Associate Content Writer at Lemonade. She previously wrote extensively on climate security, environmental peacebuilding, and sustainable development issues in the non-profit sector.
Lemonade is a full-stack insurance carrier that was built to provide the best, most delightful, and most transparent insurance experience in the world. While they’re a fully licensed and regulated insurance company, they’re also a public benefit corporation and a certified B-Corp — which means they care about the community and environment, and not just business results.