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How Climate Change Might Impact Your Next Backpacking Trip

By Brooke Ortel on 8/13/18 8:50 AM


Backpacking in New York. Photo by Kirk Rasmussen.

It’s a familiar scene: piles of food and gear, a trusted backpack unzipped, ready to be (carefully) stuffed full. You’re getting ready for your next backpacking adventure in the mountains.

As you run through your mental checklist, your friend casually asks, “So, you’re going to see those glaciers while they’re still there?” You pause, thinking for a moment. They’re only half kidding.

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Topics: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Environmental Stewardship, climate change, Backpacking, Alaska, Wyoming

Carbon Reporting at an Outdoor Nonprofit

By Kara Colovich on 1/12/18 8:56 AM

Climate change mitigation, the efforts toward reducing impacts of climate change, is a hot topic for organizations and governments around the world. The work that goes into these efforts requires the commitment of the entire organization and every sector of the economy, even the outdoor recreation economy, has work to do reducing climate change impacts.

The field of greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting continues to develop to support organizations’ climate change mitigation measures. This accounting legitimizes claims of GHG reductions and pushes organizations to report on relevant aspects of their operations, not only the highlights.

To put this all into perspective, we tell our own story here at NOLS and draw from the recent release of the NOLS FY16 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Footprint Report to explain the nuances of GHG reporting.

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Topics: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, sustainability, nols sustainability report, Environmental Stewardship

How to Fix Your Outdoor Gear

By Molly Herber on 9/5/17 8:29 AM

Fortunately, fixing gear isn’t complicated, as long as you have a few of the right tools. We do it on NOLS courses all the time (since no one wants to sleep in a holey tent or walk around with ripped pants for a month).

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Topics: Expedition Prep, Gear repair, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

Make Your Camping Gear Last Longer

By Aaron Strubhar on 7/6/17 10:49 AM

It’s the tenth day of your backpacking trip, and you start to notice that some of your gear is holding up better than others. The cheap new rain pants you bought already have a gash in the thin nylon from venturing off-trail through thick patches of thorny blackberry bushes; yet the old, patched family tent you’ve been using for years is as sturdy and functional as ever. What’s going on here?

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Topics: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, gear, Environmental Stewardship

Reaffirming Our Commitment to a Sustainable Future

By NOLS on 6/2/17 12:57 PM

“We want [our students] to use the education to be leaders in their community with an understanding of ecology and conservation for the wild outdoors far beyond their legislators back home. We expect these people to be a grain of sand on the beach of future leadership.” —Paul Petzoldt

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

How to Make Your Routine Leave No Trace

By Molly Herber on 3/29/17 8:16 AM


Photo by Matt Heaton.

You’re the type of person who will eat a noodle that fell in the dirt, shudder when you think about “surface pooping,” and march right through mud puddles on the trail rather than around them. You’re a master of Leave No Trace.

It can be hard to know how to bring your dedication to LNT to your daily routine. So, I asked around at NOLS Headquarters to find out what NOLSies do to keep LNT alive in their daily routine.

Take a look and see if there are any ideas you can fit into your lifestyle.

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Topics: leave no trace, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Behind the Scenes

On the Creation of Bears Ears National Monument

By Kevin Fleming on 12/30/16 9:54 AM

The canyonlands of southeastern Utah are a haunting, hallowed place. So still you can hear the wind under the wings of a raven passing overhead. So alive that slickrock waterfalls spring to life at the hint of rain. So deep that to walk the length of a canyon is to travel backward in time, a thousand years with each step.

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Topics: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

Intro to Federal Public Lands in the U.S.

By Katherine Boehrer on 8/30/16 10:32 AM

America’s federal public lands are an amazing resource for all kinds of recreation—but how much do you know about the different kinds of public land?

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Topics: adventure, education, Environmental Stewardship, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, leadership, stewardship

Backcountry Chilling Over Oil Drilling [Book Review]

By Sam Cook on 6/16/16 4:52 PM

There’s been a debate about it since 1980.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been threatened for years because of the oil within its borders. Due to political pressure, a 1.5 million-acre section of coastal plain was left unprotected. In 1980, Congress renamed the region, calling it the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

Now, the ANILCA prohibits oil and gas development on that coastal plain, but allows for Congress to permit it in the future.

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Topics: adventure, Alumni, backcountry, Environmental Stewardship, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, review, wilderness

DIY Composting

By Cat Cook on 6/1/16 9:53 AM

Learning to minimize your impact on the environment is a fundamental part of the NOLS curriculum. One pillar of the Leave No Trace principles we teach is to “Dispose of Waste Properly.” In the wilderness, this often means carrying out the garbage created as we travel. NOLS alumni are familiar with the process of packing out food scraps and other trash, literally carrying their own waste.

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Topics: education, Environmental Stewardship, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

Ugly Boxes Doing Beautiful Things: How You Can Do Sustainability

By Cat Cook on 5/10/16 7:51 AM

Introducing: The NOLS Ugly Box

Order something from the NOLS online store and you may be surprised by what shows up on your doorstep: a not-so-pretty cardboard box, slightly worn and clearly used, possibly wearing a label from another company. While many online retailers take great care in packaging their products in a brand-centric, aesthetically-pleasing container, NOLS is thinking in a different way: why use a new box when you can reuse an old one?

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Topics: Alumni, education, Environmental Stewardship, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

How You Can Be More Sustainable Every Day

By Sarah Zimmerman on 4/22/16 8:34 AM

At NOLS, we try hard to incorporate earth-friendly practices into our work every week, every day, around the world. We try new ideas, like planting native flower seeds, and stick with the old practices that we’ve been working on for years, like repairing gear to keep it in use.

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Topics: education, Environmental Stewardship, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, NOLS Alaska, NOLS Australia, NOLS India, NOLS Mexico, NOLS New Zealand, NOLS Northeast, NOLS Pacific Northwest, NOLS Patagonia, NOLS Scandinavia, NOLS Southwest, NOLS Teton Valley, NOLS Three Peaks Ranch, NOLS Yukon, NOLS East Africa

10 Ways to #OptOutside on Black Friday

By Molly Herber on 11/18/15 11:42 AM

Planning to #OptOutside on Black Friday like our partners at REI? Here are a few ideas to get you started!

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Topics: adventure, backcountry, cooking, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Expedition Prep, outdoor education, Outdoors

How an Outdoor Enthusiast Managed Two Decades in the City [Interview with Curtis Bartosik, Part 1]

By Alex Phillips on 11/9/15 7:10 AM

One of the most powerful statements on my NOLS course came from Morgan Hite’s essay “Briefing for Entry into a More Harsh Environment.” The last sentence reads: “You don’t need the mountains to do that.” Hite wrote the beloved piece in 1989, just weeks before Curtis Bartosik began his fall semester in the Rockies. In the years since, Bartosik, an American, has gone on to live in Japan, Hong Kong and now France, where he is an established entrepreneur, member of the board of the American Chamber of Commerce in France, general secretary of the American Legion in Paris and President of the Cornell Club of France. Bartosik’s life choices demonstrate that yes, it is possible to live in some of the most populated regions of the globe, and still connect with the natural world and maintain the values a NOLS course cultivates.

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Topics: Alumni, backcountry, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Gap Year, Live the Dream, NOLS Rocky Mountain

The Story of Gear: Reuse as an Ethic and Necessity at NOLS

By Kara Colovich on 9/7/15 8:15 AM

In the mountain town of Coyhaique, Chile, Phil Henderson, the NOLS Patagonia Equipment Manager, strips the last rings off of a tent that has just returned from a 30 day mountaineering course in the Andes.

This tent has seen the last of its exploration days—worsening tears spread through its seams, causing water to leak onto unwary sleepers—but this is not the end of its journey.

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Topics: education, Environmental Stewardship, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, leadership, NOLS Patagonia