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Hobby Footprints: Uncovering the Environmental Impact of Your Leisure Activities

Hobby Footprints: Uncovering the Environmental Impact of Your Leisure Activities

Most people don't think twice when it comes to the environmental impact of our hobbies. We pursue them for enjoyment and creative fulfillment, but we rarely consider that they may have hidden costs for the planet.

A closer look into these seemingly harmless activities reveals that some of our most popular hobbies happen to have sizable carbon footprints that contribute to issues like climate change and pollution. Activities we love typically require significant resources like water, electricity and natural materials that can take a toll on the environment. The use of chemicals to produce products, the emissions from maintenance equipment, and waste from disposable products can accumulate from our past-times.

It’s important we understand the unseen impacts of our hobbies and take steps to reduce them. This way, we can ensure our interests have the smallest footprints possible. Here, we’ll take a look at a few common hobbies, why they’re not as environmentally friendly as you may have first thought and how to make positive changes. 


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Golf may seem like a relatively benign activity, but a closer look reveals some substantial environmental impacts. Golf courses require significant amounts of fertilisers and pesticides to maintain the meticulously manicured greens and fairways. These chemical applications can contaminate nearby water sources and soil.

Additionally, golf courses in drier regions demand large volumes of water for irrigation, straining local water supplies. Even the attire and equipment of golf leads to waste, such as broken tees and abandoned balls, not to mention the airmiles of travelling to different courses.

There are several ways golfers can reduce their environmental footprint. Using environmentally friendly balls and tees made of sustainable materials is one step, as well as golfing at courses certified to meet conservation standards to help preserve local ecosystems. Finally, golf simulators allow people to practise and play golf from home without travelling to courses, minimising their carbon footprint without compromising on their hobby.


Many forms of photography have substantial environmental impacts that add up over time. Manufacturing cameras is resource-intensive, involving extracting and refining materials such as gold, aluminium, and copper. Not only are these resources being depleted but camera equipment being thrown into landfills results in chemicals being leached into the soils.

However, there are effective ways photographers can reduce their carbon footprint. For digital files, being selective in printing photos decreases paper use. Turning off camera features like image preview screens also conserves battery life. When the time comes to upgrade equipment, purchasing used cameras and lenses avoids the resources needed to manufacture new gear. Finally, properly recycling equipment at the end of an item’s life keeps those materials out of landfills.


Camping is often seen as an eco-friendly activity that connects us to nature. While this is often true, there are certain aspects of camping that negatively impact the environment. The risk of fires can lead to air pollution and damage to biodiversity, while large groups of campers travelling to parks and protected sites might stress or disrupt local ecosystems and wildlife. Disposable items like plastic bottles and utensils also accumulate as waste during camping trips. Even the fuels needed to travel to campsites contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

The good news is camping can be done very sustainably with some adjustments. Choosing nearby campgrounds and carpooling reduces emissions from travel, while packing reusable utensils, dishes and containers decreases waste. Following leave no trace principles by packing out all rubbish helps protect natural areas. By being mindful of its impacts, camping can be an eco-friendly activity that builds environmental awareness.


Crafting is a beloved hobby for many – from knitting and scrapbooking to woodworking and jewellery-making, it allows us to tap into our creativity and make something with our own two hands. But many popular crafts use a lot of new materials that take a toll on the planet.

Yarn for knitting soaks up huge amounts of water and land to produce, for example, and can pose ethical concerns regarding animal welfare. Glitter, beads, paints and other craft supplies often contain plastics and chemicals that end up in landfills after one use. Even wood and metal for carpentry and jewellery have to be harvested and processed.

Luckily, craft lovers can reduce their impact. Using recycled, repurposed, or upcycled materials cuts down on the need for new ones, or you can seek out non-toxic, natural components that decrease pollution. Buying from local makers and swapping supplies with other crafters also helps. With a few thoughtful tweaks, we can craft in an earth-friendly way while still enjoying being creative.


Travelling allows us to experience new cultures and places, but it often comes at an environmental cost. Air travel generates substantial greenhouse gas emissions from jet fuel and contributes to climate change. Even road trips in cars or RVs produce emissions from gasoline consumption. The impact accumulates quickly when we take frequent weekend getaways, cruises, and holidays abroad.

Opting to road trip instead of fly, when possible, avoids emissions from air travel, while renting a campervan or carpooling allows more sustainable miles when driving. Choosing to travel by train or bus also helps to decrease the per person emissions when transporting multiple passengers.

When you’re sightseeing, bicycling, and walking as your mode of transport completely eliminates travel emissions and enables you to see more of your destination as an added bonus. Staying in eco-friendly hotels and being mindful of waste can further reduce impacts while away. With intent, we can still experience the joy of travel while making choices that tread more lightly on the planet.

Our leisure activities and hobbies provide us joy, creativity, and valuable downtime from our busy lives. However, while the hidden environmental impacts tied to many common activities can be sobering, uncovering these unintended consequences is a necessary step for hobbyists to make a positive change. We can still pursue our passions while keeping sustainability in mind – with some adjustments to habits, equipment and supplies, the environmental footprint of our hobbies can shrink significantly.


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The Renewable Energy Hub

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