How to Be a Better Steward in 2020

With 2020 right around the corner, you’ve probably started to think about a few resolutions to make for the new year. Or maybe you haven’t, and that’s okay too! It can be overwhelming to think about everything you want to accomplish as we head into this new decade. The key is breaking your goals down into small, actionable steps.

As an organization focused on conservation and promoting a healthy relationship between humans and nature, we are sharing a few simple ideas for anyone who wants to be a better steward of this incredible place where we get to live, work, and play.

Always Utilize “Leave No Trace” Principles

Before heading out on your next adventure, make sure to keep the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace in mind. Even if you’re going out for a short day hike, LNT Principles apply. For example, always use a dog poop bag to clean up after your pooch, take it with you, and trash it at the end of your excursion. Don’t be the reason other hikers say “ew!” when they see a bag of poop on the side of the trail!

Even if you think you’re a pro at LNT, take a minute to review the seven principles and resolve to follow them in 2020. With fresh perspective in a new year, you just might pick up on something you missed before, or can use your refreshed knowledge to help educate a friend or family member.

Spend More Time Outside, Even in the Winter

As seasons change and temperatures dip, it doesn’t mean you have to hole up indoors. There are many winter hiking trails that remain relatively snow-free, and the views and fresh air won’t disappoint! Check out our round-up of 12 trails to explore in the Mountains to Sound Greenway this winter, then bundle up and head outdoors.

Give Back to Your Community

No matter where you live, there are opportunities to volunteer all around you — whether it’s walking dogs at a local animal shelter, or picking up trash on trails. Looking to get your hands dirty? On Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 20), we are hosting a tree potting event at our nursery, located at Lake Sammamish State Park. You can help pot up bare root plants that will eventually grow into the trees that are planted all across the Mountains to Sound Greenway. Want to join us? Sign up here! 

Can’t join us on MLK Day? No worries! We host volunteer opportunities all throughout the year, ranging from trail maintenance to tree planting. Check out our upcoming events here!

Learn Something New
Northwest Railway Museum

Physical activity is great, but it’s also important to keep your brain engaged! Why not resolve to challenge yourself and learn something new in 2020? Our partners at REI offer all kinds of classes such as rock climbing, photography, avalanche awareness, and more!

And did you know that the Mountains to Sound Greenway was recently named a National Heritage Area? That’s right! Our local pride and joy is now officially a national treasure. National Heritage Areas are places designated by Congress where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes. Take some time in 2020 to learn more about this special place by visiting one of our many museums or heritage sites.

Start a Composting Bin 

In Seattle, food and yard waste pick-up is easy to take advantage of, but it’s not a service that is available in every town and city. If you don’t have a food and yard waste pick-up available in your area, consider starting your own compost bin! Composting is something that you can do whether you live in an apartment or a home. It’s an inexpensive way to keep food waste out of the landfill and benefits your garden. Learn how to set up your very own compost bin here!

Bulk Up!

No, we’re not talking about spending more time in the gym . . . but rather addressing the single-use plastic consumption crisis, which isn’t ending anytime soon. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the issue, but there are a number of small changes you can make in your daily life that add up. For example, consider buying more food in bulk. It’s perfect for snacks on the go (think trail mix, mixed nuts, or dried fruit). You can even buy flour in bulk (for all those baked goods you bring for your friends before an early start on the trail)! Bring your own containers or reusable bags the next time you go to the store — not only are you helping out the earth, you’re also saving yourself money.

Carpool and/or Use Trailhead Direct
Credit: Eli Brownell, King County Parks

Don’t want to deal with parking at a trailhead or don’t have a car? Trailhead Direct is a seasonal service that operates on weekends and designated holidays (keep an eye on their website for 2020 dates). You can hitch a ride to Cougar Mountain, Issaquah Alps, Mailbox Peak and Mount Si without the hassle of trying to find parking. You never know, you might even meet your next group of hiking friends on the bus!

Carpooling is another great option to decrease your carbon emissions and lighten the load on trailhead parking lots. Park and Rides offer a safe, convenient option to meet friends before hitting the road and can be easily located with a quick Google search.

Opt to Act All Year Long

Keep the positive momentum going well beyond January by joining REI’s Opt to Act Plan: 52 weeks of simple challenges to reduce your impact, get active, and leave the world better than you found it. You can even sign up for weekly calendar reminders to help hold you accountable.

What are your resolutions for 2020? If volunteering is on your list, don’t forget to check out our schedule of events and sign up to join us soon!