Litter-free hiking

How can we keep nature clear of waste? When planning a hike or excursion, think about what you will need and what equipment you will bring. You do not need to buy everything new. You can rent items, buy second hand items or borrow from a friend. Sharing equipment with your fellow travellers also helps to minimise the weight of your bags.

Use designated camping areas and campfire sites. Stick to marked paths to reduce unnecessary wear and tear on the environment. It takes years for the ground in a boreal forest to recover from the effects of a 10-person group passing through. Enjoy the nature around you without disturbing its balance.

In Finland, Metsähallitus has focused on the promotion of hiking without littering for several years. Hiking without littering is also our goal in Salla. There are no waste bins at the campfire sites along hiking trails. If you can bring it along to the trails with you, you can also carry it back out again. It should be even easier to carry items back out, as food and drink packages get lighter after their contents have been consumed.


Instructions for appropriate conduct out on the hiking trails:

Hiking without littering — instructions from

Biodegradable waste can be disposed of in composting toilets, paper waste can be burnt, and any plastic and metal waste must be carried in a backpack to waste collection containers at the start of the trail. Take away everything you brought with you.  Respecting the principle of litter-free hiking also conserves nature in the winter season when the number of hikers is lower. Campfire sites require significant maintenance during the winter, such as bringing in firewood and removing biodegradable waste. Add to this the plastic food packaging of all the people who go hiking on the trails, and the number of maintenance visits would have to be twice as high.

While out on hiking trails you will inevitably need to pay a visit to the toilet. As there are no toilet facilities on the trail, please find a spot that is a sufficient distance from campfire sites, water refilling stations, trails and camping sites. You should also dig a small hole and cover it up afterwards. Any paper waste should be burnt (in the winter) or packed tightly to be carried out with you. At the very least, you should cover everything with soil, leaves, moss or snow.


Keep these tips in mind:

    take away everything you brought with you

    put waste in waste bins: sort and recycle correctly to ensure that waste can be reutilised

    reduce the amount of waste generated: opt for durable items and avoid disposables; for example, pack the food you bring along in reusable or combustible packages

    only burn waste that is suitable for disposal by burning: clean paper and cardboard

    help the environment: pick up waste left behind by others and give others advice on hiking etiquette


The principles of litter-free hiking:

    Pack your meals in durable and reusable boxes and bags. This helps minimise packaging waste.

    Food scraps and other biowaste can be left in a dry toilet or compost bin.

    Burn clean paper and cardboard at a campfire site or in the fireplace of a wilderness hut. Other waste, such as packaging containing aluminium foil or plastic, must not be burnt in a fire because they can produce non-biodegradable waste and toxic gases.

    When a forest fire warning is in force, burning waste is only allowed in the fireplaces of wilderness huts or other fireplaces with a chimney, not at campfire sites.

    Do not leave combustible waste for other people to deal with; for example, in firewood sheds.

    Take all hazardous waste and mixed waste with you when you leave the wilderness.

    Mixed waste bins are not the right place for biowaste, because it will soon start to smell. Moreover, animals may spread litter around when attracted to waste containers by the smell of biowaste.

    Hazardous waste, such as batteries, must be disposed of appropriately, not placed in a mixed waste container.

    Always clean up after yourself, and also clean up after other people if necessary.

    Considerate smokers collect butts in a box and empty them later into a waste container.


How can we protect nature from litter? By planning our hike carefully, but also by adhering to the simple principle of not leaving behind any trace that you were there.

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Mother-in-law on a reindeer sled ride

A few years ago, a Dutch family was preparing for a reindeer sled ride on the yard of the Salla Reindeer Park. The family included the mother and father as well as their sons and daughters with their spouses. In other words, it was quite a big family.
Everything started well...