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As Sustainable As Possible Model (ASAP) – Short Version

Paul Van Horn, Anna Bauer, Hilary Bulger, Drew Cramer, Byron Emmons, Joe Graveen, Dave Lardinois, Andrew Rasmus, Paul Sveum, Jessica Swiercynski, Dave Thomas, Carolyn Weber
Article Date:  May 12, 2013


Renewable Materials

Renewable materials are grown and harvested in sustainable manner. Examples of renewable materials are: bamboo, soy, cocona, hemp, corn based plastic, and hevea tree. Some research is required to confirm that they are in fact sustainable – processing may require the use of large amounts of other materials or energy which may make the “renewable” product no more sustainable.

2 points – made out of 100% renewable materials or materials that come from an organic producer

1 point – made out of at least 20% renewable materials and less than one third of materials are non-sustainable products, such as petroleum based products

0 points – made of primarily non-sustainable materials

Recycled Materials

Recycled materials are materials that have can be reused for another purpose. This can include the direct reuse of a material such as a glass or plastic container. This can also include the reusing of only the material and transforming it into a different product, such as using an old t-shirt to make a bag.  An aluminum backpack frame that is made out of old pop cans is another example. When making an item out of recycled materials be aware of the things that go into its creation such as glue, sewing thread, or paint for these items are not being recycled.When purchasing an item made out of recycled materials, make sure to research what other materials, including energy, are used and created in the production process.

2 points – made out of 100% recycled materials

1 point – made out of at least 20% recycled materials

0 points – made out of primarily non-recycled materials


Carbon Emissions

According to scientists, carbon dioxide is the number one green house gas contributing to global warming. The production process of many materials causes emissions of carbon into the atmosphere. The less carbon a material produces or emits during its production process the lower its impact. If carbon offsets or credits are bought, research should be done on the company they are purchased through.

2 points – amount of production of carbon is within or below environmental regulations stated by the Kyoto protocol (Annex 1 country), without the purchase of carbon credits

1 point – buys carbon offsets

0 points – amount of carbon is well above environmental regulations or is unknown


Distance from Production to Purchase

The transportation of goods is responsible for a large portion of the carbon output of a product. The fewer miles a product has to travel to the point of purchase translates directly to a decrease in the amount of carbon produced by that product. Buying locally not only improves the economy of the community, it also leads to fewer greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

2 points entire production process and transportation is accomplished within 100 miles of purchase

1 point – entire production process and transportation is accomplished within 1,000 miles of purchase

0 points – entire production process and transportation is not accomplished within 1,000 miles of the purchase


Synthetic Compounds

According to the Natural Step, as summarized by the Oregon Natural Step Network, “synthetic organic compounds such as DDT and PCBs can remain in the environment for many years, bio-accumulating in the tissue of organisms and causing profound deleterious effects on predators in the upper levels of the food chain.”Purchase products that do not use or produce synthetic compounds at any stage of their production.

2 points – there are absolutely no synthetic organic compounds that are produced during or for the production process

0 points – there are synthetic organic compounds that are produced during or for the production process


Accessibility of Company Information

When doing research on a company, it is important that that company’s policies and product information be easily accessible. This also means that the information is clearly stated as a legitimate fact and is not merely an attempt to sound environmentally friendly, known as greenwashing. Look for companies that belong to the Conservation Alliance and reference the Environmental Protection Agency.

2 points – company exercises public accountability

1 point – moderately to heavy research is needed to find information on the company’s production process

0 points – no information is available on the company’s production process


Fair Trade

Companies that follow Fair Trade standards are more sustainably responsible. The standards set by Fair Trade, including fair prices, labor conditions, direct trade from the production country, and factors of environmental sustainability, help protect the environment and attempt to rectify the socioeconomic impacts of our current economy. The standards guarantee that set economic, social and environmental criteria that will be met during trade and production processes.

2 points – follows standards of Fair Trade

0 points – few regulations


Multiuse Gear

Identifying and taking advantage of gear that has multiple uses will decrease the amount of gear purchased and used.This, in turn, decreases the number of resources used.A poncho, for example, can be used to as protection from wind and rain, as a ground cloth, or as a tarp.Think outside the box when considering what to bring on a trip as well as when purchasing.

2 points – three easily distinguished and applicable uses

1 point – two easily distinguished and applicable uses

0 points – one use





Type of Area

This section is meant to address the specific areas that people choose to recreate in. In order to allow for the least amount of environmental impact while still remaining sustainable, it is best, if possible, to use private property. Going to established parks, trails, and campsites are good because they concentrate human impact so that small areas of fragile wilderness can stay intact, but the concentration of human impact at established areas can leave devastating effects such as erosion, trash build up, and over harvesting of firewood.Untouched wilderness may need to be explored for educational and scientific purposes, but impact will be more noticeable.

3 points – private property

2 points – established areas such as parks, campgrounds, trails, etc.

1 point – untouched wilderness with a purpose

0 points – untouched wilderness without a purpose


Fuel Consumption

The best options for travel that are the most sustainable and the best for the environment are those that require no mechanical parts such as walking and horse-back riding. Alternative vehicles that are modified so that they do not require fossil fuels are the next best option.If using a vehicle powered by fossil fuel, look for a vehicle that efficiently uses our precious resources.Mass transit is efficient because of the large number of people that can be transported if full, but does require large amounts of fuel.

3 points – alternate transportation options such as walking, riding a bike, etc.

2 points – alternate power source transportation such as bio fuel, electric, solar, etc.

1 point – transportation that uses fossil fuel to the fullest such as full busses, trains, planes, and vehicles with gas mileage of 30+

0 points – vehicles that get less than 30 miles to the gallon



Simply the distance traveled to reach your location, reflective of the fossil fuels used and the emissions produced.These distances have a wavering factor, left to your discretion.For example, it is up to you to award two points or three points for a trip that is 28 miles away.Note: if you are using a form of transportation that does not release require fossil fuels or produce emissions, award yourself three points.

3 points – less than 25 miles

2 points – 26 to100 miles

1 point – 101 to 300 miles

0 points – 301 or more miles


Camping Expertise

This easily can be the most important aspect of sustainable travel.Having the right knowledge to conduct your selves in the least harmful manner is critical.Even more important then knowing is putting the knowledge into practice on the trail.One possible credit for each section, each credit is worth one point.

Travel – If there is an established trail, use it in a single file line to avoid widening it.Climb over trees and go through mud, again to avoid increasing the width of the trail.If there is not a trail, spread out so you don’t establish one.Watch where you step; walk on bare rocks, firm ground, or impacted areas.Try and not step on vegetation, humans are large animals and can be very destructive.Avoid steep slopes to help reduce erosion.

Choosing a Campsite – Pick a previously used site when possible.Be conscious of your new neighbors, do not set up camp at a local watering hole, denying access to animals.Place tents on firm, bare, or impacted areas.Shorter stays help to minimize impact.Sweep your camp when you leave and leave it better than you found it.

Fires – Clear away all organic litter that may light on fire.Keep fires small and in control. Never leave a fire unattended! Know the area you are in and make an educated decision on what kind and how much wood to use, if at all.Make sure the fire is cold when done. Crush and scatter all coals and ash and restore area to natural look.

Outdoor Bathrooms – Always go far away from water sources.If the waste does not have ample time to filter through the ground, it can contaminate local water sources.Use cat holes.If using toilet paper either pack out or burn.Pack out everything else, including feminine products.

Washing of Self and Dishes – Like going to the bathroom be far away from water.Even biodegradable soaps put stress on the environment so be frugal when using.Dirt and ash do a great job at cleaning out dishes.Every food scrap, no matter how small or how biodegradable should be packed out.

Trash and General Respect – If you bring it in you bring it out.You can prepare your food and supplies before the trip by removing extra packaging, and always bring garbage bags.Check and double check your campsite when you are leaving.Pick up any trash you may find along the trail.Over all be respectful to all life plant and animal alike.Use common sense, don’t feed animals, and be respectful of other visitors.

Remember that knowing these skills is one thing but to actually get credit you must practice them too.

1–6 points – 1-6 credits


Group Size

The impact of humans on the environment is connected to how much each person in a group knows and cares about preserving the environment, as well as the size of the group. A large group of students with a greater knowledge is more likely to make less of an impact on an expedition than a small group that has no knowledge or desire to care for the environment.

3 points – a group of 10 members or less with an average score of 4 credits or above on expertise

2 points – a group of more than 10 members with an average score of 4 credits or above on expertise

1 point – a group of 10 members or less with an average score less than 4 credits on expertise

0 points – a group of more than 10 members with an average score less than 4 credits on expertise


Time Spent in One Location

It would be more beneficial for the environment if a small group of people spends less time at a single destination rather than a large group spending a long time at a single destination. The less time that is spent at a destination the less likely the impact will be more noticeable and permanent.

3 points – the size of the group is 10 members or less and less than a week is spent in a single destination

2 points – the size of the group is 10 members or less and more than a week is spent in a single destination

1 point – the size of the group is more than 10 members and less than a week is spent in a single destination

0 points – the size of the group is more than 10 members and more than one week is spent in a single destination



Ecopsychology helps us understand why we go the places we go.By understanding humans’ intrinsic need for nature, we can better choose appropriate locations based on our specific purposes.See background for more information on ecopsychology.

3 points – recreation for educational or cultural purposes

2 points – recreation for personal reasons such as fun, exploration, spiritual, etc., has a connection with nature

1 point – no knowledge or reason, just something to do

0 points – out to take advantage of nature



The impact you have on a place is influenced by the knowledge you possess and the type of location you are going to.The impact may or not be acceptable depending on your reason for going there, based on your ecological consciousness or lack of.

3 points– if the location is established and expertise score is above 4 along with at least 2 points for ecopsychology

2 points – if the location is undisturbed and expertise score is above 4 along with at least 2 points for ecopsychology

1 point – if the location is established and expertise score is below 4 along with 2 or less for ecospychology

0 points – if the location is undisturbed and expertise score is below 4 along with 2 or less points for ecopsychology



The ideal situation is to travel the least distance to a location and then spending the greatest time there. For example it would be better to take one long trip every other month than a short trip every weekend in terms of fuel usage and impact. Note: if you are using a form of transportation that does not release require fossil fuels or produce emissions, award yourself three points.

3 points – the distance traveled is less than 100 miles and more than a week is spent recreating

2 points – the distance traveled is less than 100 miles and less than a week is spent recreating

1 point – the distance traveled is more than 100 miles and a week or more is spent recreating

0 points – the distance traveled is over 100 miles and less than a week is spent recreating





Organic foods are foods that have no pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers added. These chemicals that are often used in food production are synthesized from petroleum, and therefore unsustainable.

1 point – organic

0 points – not organic



Most of our foods come from hundreds if not thousands of miles away, burning fossil fuels and toxic emissions. Foods that are grown locally do not.

2 points – grown locally

0 points– not local


Fair Trade

Labor is expensive, therefore it is cheaper for a company to treat its employees abominably. When companies have factories overseas they are not subject to the same, if any, labor laws. By buying foods that have they Fair Trade logo you can be assured that the people who produced your food were treated appropriately and earned decent wages.

1 point – Fair Trade certified

0 points – not Fair Trade certified


Small Farm

Large corporate farms practice methods of farming that are over-taxing on the land. Since they try to have high outputs they ship in resources from all over the country to produce their food. Small farms use only what is available to them and have to be more conscientious of how they treat the land.

1 point – grown at a small farm

0 points – grown at a corporate farm



Genetically modified foods have numerous unforeseen side effects, ranging from environmental dangers to direct health dangers. Foods that have not been genetically modified have evolved to be consumed and have been proven safe by thousands of years of consumption.

1 point – non-GMO

0 points – GMO



Large amounts of resources are grown to be fed to animals, who are often left inside small cages never seeing the light of day. When they are in one place for so long they have high levels of waste concentrated, increasing the need for antibiotics. These animals are also often raised in a way that is highly taxing on water and food supplies. There is no distinct line for an ethically raised meat, read into where your meat comes from if you are purchasing meat, and find out the farmers’ practices. Since non-meat products are naturally less intensive to grow they are also more efficient.

2 points – Conscientiously raised meat or no meat

0 points – Unconscientiously raised meat


Home Grown and Locally Gathered

There are naturally growing foods almost everywhere, even in places where you can’t find food you can grow it. Foods that you grow or gather you have direct control over. They are local and very likely organic.

2 points – Home grown or locally gathered food

0 points – Not grown or gathered


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