Eloping generally means that your wedding will create far less carbon than having a big traditional wedding, so you could say that it will be more eco-friendly and kind to the planet. But, eloping can still be damaging to the environment depending on where you go, what you do and how you do it.
That’s where the concept of Leave No Trace comes into play and can ensure that your elopement is truly sustainable. The Leave No Trace movement first began back in the 1960’s in the USA, and has only recently become better known in Europe. It has seven basic principles, all designed to ensure that people can use wild spaces in a way that doesn’t damage them and ruin them for the future.
So what are the seven principles of Leave No Trace?
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
Don’t just show up – plan where you are going, understand the habitats and know how long it will take you to get between places
-Have a back up plan in case of bad weather
-Have the right kit with you so you don’t create too much rubbish, or end up getting caught out.
-Know where private land is so you don’t break any rules
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
If too many people walk or camp on the same ground then vegetation can be trampled, soils can be washed away, new paths form and the landscape can be scarred and changed forever.
To avoid this:
-Stick to existing paths as much as possible. Walk on rock, sand, any hard surfaces that won’t be damaged by your feet
-Avoid walking on flower meadows, and areas of moss that can be easily and permanently damaged.
-When wild camping space your tents apart and be preferably camp on a hard surface. Leave no evidence of your campsite to stop others camping there.
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
There’s nothing worse than hiking out to a beautiful location and seeing it littered with rubbish. It makes us so sad and there is no excuse for it so:
-Pack it in, pack it out. No rubbish gets left behind- this includes champagne corks, food packaging, waste food (including banana skins and apple cores), and confetti. Yes we have to pick it all up.
-If you have to “go” then we’ll be giving you a trowel and you’ll be digging a hole far away from the path to keep the landscape looking clean.
4. Leave What You Find
Have you ever heard of the saying leave only footprints and take only photographs? Leave No Trace fits exactly with this saying. When you are out in the wild you shouldn’t:
-Take any rocks, plants (including picking flowers) or other natural objects
-Damage any trees by snapping branches off or carving your initials into them, it’s not cool!
5. Minimise Campfire Impacts
It’s pretty unlikely that you would have a campfire during your elopement but if you did then you must:
-Consider if it’s safe to do so, in the summer wildfire can be a risk, so if you aren’t sure then don’t risk it.
-Use an established fire ring if there is one
-Make sure that the fire is completely out before leaving and scatter the cold ash to leave less of an impact
-Consider using a stove for cooking instead- this is much safer!
6. Respect Wildlife (one of the most important principles in our eyes)
Seeing wild animals while out in nature is one of the joys of the outdoors but we have to remember that these animals are wild and so we must respect them. We’re going into their homes and so there are a few rules to ensure that we don’t impact them with our presence.
- Don’t feed wild animals even the deer in Scotland. It can alter their behaviour and cause problems for them.
- Keep quiet and don’t approach wild animals. We usually have a pair of binoculars on us if you want to see them up close.
- Keep your dog under control and on a lead in wild spaces
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
We get it, when you are out in the wild you want to feel like you are the only people in the world enjoying that space. Sadly though it’s rare to have a place to yourself and just because it’s an elopement, it doesn’t mean we have more rights to be there than others.
-Don’t listen to loud music
-Be prepared to wait your turn to get a photo at a popular spot
-Be kind to other people
-Remember the outdoors is for everyone
How to learn more about Leave No Trace?
Leave No Trace is a core philosophy of our photography business and we educate all our couples on the principles and even have a bespoke guide on how to Leave No Trace for all our clients. When you book your elopement with us you will receive your guide with lots of advice on how to have the most epic elopement whilst considering the seven principles of Leave No Trace. If you want to find out more information now then take a look at the informative Leave No Trace website.