The Vanlife App - Not Just Another Geotagging Platform
Dustin & Noami Grevemberg @irietoaurora
“Take only pictures, leave only footprints”
It’s an age-old saying. But now it’s said that when you share those pictures, you should forego the geotag. One popular opinion is that geotagging is leading to the degradation of wild spaces due to an influx of visitors. Though there are no statistics to backup these claims, there is much anecdotal evidence.
It’s true that technology, social media in particular, has changed the way we travel, and it can have unintended consequences on the places we visit. During the Super Bloom, we saw record amounts of people visiting the deserts in Southern California, and incredible photos to go with it. What you probably didn’t see were people crushing the blooms in route to get their perfect Instagram photo.
As with many issues on the topic of sustainability, geotagging isn’t black and white, right or wrong.
Geotagging: The Problem and the Solution.
In our opinion, geotagging is both the problem and the solution. It’s an interesting paradox. Immersing yourself in nature is the best way for anyone to build a connection to the outdoors, and this connection is where land stewardship begins. The more people experience the outdoors, the more advocates we will have for protection of outdoor spaces. On the other hand, irresponsible land use and heavy traffic in sensitive areas leads to the degradation of these spaces.
Geotagging in general can create either more destruction or more stewardship, depending on how it’s done. So how can we better use technology and social media to foster education and inspire land stewardship?
The Vanlife App is not just another geotagging platform, we are a community organization fighting for the protection of our lifestyle and conservation of outdoor spaces.
Unlike other geotagging apps, at The Vanlife App we believe that geotagging can be done responsibly by including an educational component when sharing locations. It’s important that we take responsibility for educating and create a culture around recreating responsibly.
We all enjoy the outdoors in myriad ways. Our experiences are personally satisfying and enriching, but they can have a negative impact on the places we visit. We encourage individuals to consider the protection and sustainability of outdoor spaces and the visitors who come after them.
Our goal is to make outdoor spaces more accessible so that we can protect them for future generations. We believe the more people get out and build a connection with the outdoors, the more they will be motivated to protect it. Spreading knowledge of our individual and collective impact, and what we can do to minimize it, is our key to sustainable geotagging.
When sharing and reviewing locations on The Vanlife App, consider the following:
Encourage and Inspire Leave No Trace - Add a simple message of stewardship in your site description and reviews as a reminder for those visiting after you.
ex: pack-it-in, pack-it-out; use existing fire rings; leave it better than you found it
Tag Thoughtfully - Include area-specific information such as road closures, fire restrictions, access issues, sensitive areas, permit requirements. This information helps other visitors know what to expect and be better prepared to respect and protect the area and themselves.
Help Us Make it Better - Use the in-app feature to share the level of cleanliness of the campsite and include details in your review. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to recommend sites and locations in need of cleanup.
Give Back to the Places You Love - Connect with community through The Vanlife App by creating a gathering or hosting a cleanup.
PRINCIPLES WE LIVE BY
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles are the bedrock of the Leave No Trace program. They provide guidance to enjoy our natural world in a sustainable way that avoids human-created impacts. The principles have been adapted so they can be applied in your backyard or your backcountry.
For more information on Leave No Trace and the Leave No Trace Seven Principles, visit https://www.thevanlifeapp.com/sustainability
Share photos from your campsite showing how you Leave No Trace. Tag @thevanlifeapp and use #foundonthevanlifeapp and #vanlifecommunitycares to be featured.
This is a topic we are constantly adapting and know that there is room for improvement. We’d love to hear your thoughts.