9 eco-friendly wild swimming tips to make your dips in nature a little kinder to the places you explore
There’s something a little naughty and really exhilarating about getting your kit off and submerging your perspiring body in the wet coolness of a natural water source.
It’s an assault on your senses that makes you feel a whirlwind of emotions as you dunk your head beneath the water’s surface. Once the initial shock (and slight regret) surpasses, you feel alive and rejuvenated as you take in your natural surroundings.
It gives you an immediate connection to the landscape and wildlife encompassing you. That’s one of the reasons wild swimming is gaining popularity.
As more dippers head for the waters, it’s important to look after these incredible places we love to explore. These 9 eco-friendly wild swimming tips help to protect the swimming holes we love. Preserving these natural habitats and the wildlife that call them home.
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Consider Where You Go Open Water Swimming
Think about the location you choose for a dip. Popular wild swimming spots will get a lot of footfall that comes with a host of environmental strains.
Frequently visited places can sometimes get polluted from litter left by visitors. There can also be erosion to the bank and natural landscape from the sheer number of people visiting a place. This can damage nearby habitats and the natural balance of the ecosystem.
It’s also important to consider whether the area you’re visiting is a protected area. Some natural places are protected if they’re home to endangered species or are sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs). Avoiding these spots will allow the protected wildlife to thrive as they should.
Visiting lesser-known spots can reduce the pressure on these natural places and limit potential damage. It’s also the chance to find a hidden gem where you’ll likely have the water to yourself to swim as you please.
Possibly even dare a skinny dip. With no one around, it would be rude not to!
Think About the Time of Your Wild Swimming Trip
Thinking about the time of year and day of your trip will help to make it an eco-friendly trip.
Dips at off-peak times and in the shoulder seasons will help to reduce the impact on natural places. They’ll be fewer people stomping about trudging up debris, which can affect water sources and the surrounding landscape.
It could also mean you get to experience that popular destination but without hoards of people simply by going in autumn and midweek, compared to a weekend in mid-summer.
Use Eco-Friendly Suncream
The products and chemicals we lather on our skin can wash off in water sources and have a damaging effect. Opting for sustainable suncream means they’ll be no run-off in the places you swim. Protecting you and the local wildlife at the same time.
Some suncream options to choose from:
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Preserve the Natural Surroundings
Whilst you’re out enjoying your wild water swimming, a big part of that is taking in all of your natural surroundings. Not just the cooling water against your skin but the plentiful trees, plants and shrubs all around.
Spending time around plants is proven to have huge benefits for our mental well-being. Plus they’re vital to the natural balance of an ecosystem. So it’s important not to damage any foliage, plants or the terrain when out for a swim.
These places are home to wildlife and any destruction to their habitats could have a harmful knock-on effect. Try to cause as little damage as possible so these places are protected for the local wildlife and future dippers.
Think About Where You Take Care of Business
It can be tempting just to answer nature’s call when you’re already surrounded by water. But peeing in natural water sources can pollute them and cause serious damage.
You should be aiming to pee no less than 60m from a natural water source. This is far enough away to avoid any cross-contamination.
And I feel like this goes without saying, but the same applies to numbers twos!
You can check out our handy guide to peeing and pooping outside for all the in-depth lowdown on how to spend a penny in the outdoors.
Practice Leave No Trace
Whatever you get up to in the outdoors, the LNT principles are good to live by. Simple steps to apply wherever you roam that help to protect the places we love to swim and explore:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Minimise campfire impacts
- Leave what you find
- Respect Wildlife
- Be considerate of others
Opt for Sustainable Swimwear
Having an eco-friendly trip starts before you’ve even left the front door. The kit that you buy for your swim can have huge environmental impacts. So it’s important to consider what you’re buying and where from.
The best way to ensure your gear is kind to the planet is to use what you already have. The fashion and textiles industry is one of the biggest polluters worldwide. Opting to stick with what you have will limit the number of harmful toxins and chemicals being released into the world’s atmosphere.
Failing that, shopping second-hand is a great way to give forgotten gear a new lease of life.
If you do need to buy new equipment, our guides on how to find second-hand gear and ethical outdoor brands will help make getting kitted out, kinder to the planet.
Remember Your Kit
It’s no good getting kitted up with nature-friendly swimming gear if you forget it and have to fork out for a new one. Remembering all you need for your cold water swim will avoid any spontaneous splurges. Protecting the plant and your bank balance.
Be Considerate of the Locals
For us, the natural water sources we swim in our places of rejuvenation, solitude, connectedness and peace. For other critters and beings, it’s their home. So be mindful of this when choosing a spot to dip.
Try to avoid areas where birds nest and be mindful of the surrounding environment as you dip and dive. It was most likely their home before it was your swim spot so remember to be respectful to protect these places we love to explore.