Guest post written by Dean Ronzoni. Dean is the Director of Corporate Development at Leave No Trace, a nonprofit dedicated to providing educational tools that encourage sustainable practices.
This year, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics embarked upon a partnership with Niantic to create a first-of-its-kind venture: programming Leave No Trace education into a real world game-based event. The Center is an environmental nonprofit working internationally to educate people on how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. Together with Niantic, Leave No Trace is excited by the opportunity to reach such a vast community of people spending time outdoors and to make sure they are equipped to lessen their outdoor impacts.
Over the past 25 years, Leave No Trace has grown from its backcountry roots to provide educational tools to those venturing outdoors, whether they’re going on a week-long kayaking trip, a day-hike or a family picnic. As Leave No Trace adapts alongside ever-changing technology, it’s an exciting time to examine alternative strategies to complement the more traditional outdoor industry audience, to ultimately reach more people going outside.
To kick off the partnership, Leave No Trace advised Niantic on sustainability practices at its real world events, including Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago in June 2019. More than 60,000 Pokémon GO players would descend upon the city from all over the world in order to take part in the North American Pokémon GO Fest; but this year they would see some new additions. Across the park and throughout online messaging there was Leave No Trace information, customized for Pokémon GO Trainers exploring the outdoors to discover, catch, and power up their Pokémon.
Pokémon GO Fest Chicago included stations to refill water bottles and advice on ways to plan ahead and prepare to minimize waste brought into the city’s park. Our Leave No Trace team was on the ground to review the event first-hand, providing advice on the best sustainability practices for future events worldwide.
For many of us in the non-gaming world, the concept of capturing the mythical “Jirachi” or wandering through the “Winter Forest” might sound foreign. Yet during last summer’s Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago, attendees collectively walked over 290 kilometers and caught 15 million Pokémon. The potential to reach people venturing outdoors in myriad, innovative ways is only expanding and our work with Pokémon GO is a great examination of how nature and technology can intersect.
- Dean Ronzoni, Director of Corporate Development at Leave No Trace