Think green while at play

Chances are, unless “green” is your mantra, you may have not given much thought to sports and recreational activities that are environmentally friendly in nature. There are ways to enjoy some downtime and protect the planet simultaneously.

• Camping: Camping is a good activity for enjoying the outdoors, but many people do not take the outdoors into consideration when camping. Overcrowding, especially during the summer and fall seasons, can lead to infringement on wildlife and off-limits areas. Rather, choose an off time to go camping and be especially conscious of how you treat the surrounding foliage and wildlife. Remember to carry out what you’ve carried in so you don’t litter. Be conscious of campfires you have started so they can be properly extinguished. And importantly, don’t feed wild animals. They can become dependant on food from humans, and fail to forage properly on their own.

• Beachside excursions: A trip to the water’s edge is a relaxing and rejuvenating recreational activity. However, the world’s oceans are continually under attack from trash, microscopic bacteria and other contaminants. While many of these contaminants leach into ocean and lake water via drainage systems or public water supplies, peak vacation season at the seaside can also contribute. If you are visiting the beach, be mindful of your litter, including cigarette butts, plastic bottles, foil, baggies, etc. Seeming innocuous items can wreak havoc on marine life, suffocating them or compromising internal organs if ingested. Also think twice about pets sharing the beach. Man’s best friend is a good companion, however, his feces, if left on the beach, can promote dangerous bacteria and some parasites, such as hookworm, which multiply in warm, moist conditions and whereever waste is present.

• Boating: If you will be traveling the nation’s waterways, consider doing so in a wind-, water- or human-powered vessel. Sailboats, canoes, kayaks, and the like are emission-free ways to navigate the water. If you must use an engine, investigate ones with an eco-friendly generator that puts the boat on auto-pilot, helping to cut back on fuel consumption and pollution.

• Fishing: Reeling in your catch and cooking it for dinner is an environmentally responsible recreational activity. But fishing green can be foiled if you don’t learn about the species for which you are angling. Find out the appropriate size, habitat and feeding preferences of your chosen fish. This way you avoid by-catch, reeling in some other marine life by accident. Also, you want to toss back fish that are not of adequate size so that you ensure populations of species can continue to breed.

• Swimming: You may want to skip the chemical-laden swimming pool for one of nature’s natural watering holes. Provided the water is clear and safe, you can dive into lakes, rivers or oceans. Seek out a hot spring and you can turn your swimming adventure into a therapeutic one.

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