Pack it in and pack it out is a pretty standard practice these days, but what about packing out some of that trash that others leave behind? Read on for how to be a great example to other families on the trail.

kids-hiking-creditphoto: Eric Havir via flickr 

Bag It Up

Throw a couple of kitchen-size trash bags or plastic grocery bags in your backpack.

Pack foldable backpack or canvas bag with good handles to hold the plastic bags of trash.The kids can help carry it.

Having your kids pick up wayward trash with bare hands might sound a little gross or scary, and packing gloves is just unpractical. Try using the plastic bag as a “scoop” the way you would for doggie waste, or packing a couple smaller plastic bags (even Ziplocks will do) to act as “gloves.”

Bring along one of those cheap grabbers you can pick up at Target or Walgreens for less than $5. Keep it in the car or nearby your hiking gear. Kids love to use them and you get a little more peace of mind/no mystery goo on fingers.

Stash some wipes in your bag: you probably did this anyway.

Other Ways You Can Help Your Parks & Trails

Share and share-alike: Taking photos while you’re out and about is a no-brainer, but when you upload them later to social media, “check in” at the park’s location or take a few seconds to find your local or national park’s hashtag like #nationalparksservice. Let the people you know see how important parks are to you.

Volunteer: From your city parks to Yellowstone, all parks rely on the volunteers to help with clean-up, habitat restoration and more. If you can’t volunteer your time, consider a donation to help keep the programs running.

What’s your favorite park? Mention it by name in the comments below! 

—Amber Guetebier