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Take Nothing But Pictures

What does "Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time" mean?

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Walter Fischer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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While the Baltimore Grotto, an organization founded in 1952 and dedicated to “the exploration, study and conservation of caves,” does use the phrase “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time” as its motto, the origins of the phrase, which varies in usage, are unknown. That said, the idea behind the phrase, is deeply rooted in ecological conservation and simply refers to the need to minimize one’s impact on nature, including refraining from removing plants, rocks, or other natural things from protected areas.

Humanity’s interaction with the Earth’s natural environment has been very destructive at the individual, corporate, and national levels. Industrial pollution is well-documented, as is the destruction to the natural environment carried out by many governments around the world seeking to exploit natural resources. Less appreciated is the destructive impact of individuals and small groups on the environment. The phrase “take only pictures, leave only footprints, kill nothing but time” is intended to address this "micro" level of humanity by impressing upon tourists, hunters, and others the need to respect nature and to minimize the adverse impact upon nature caused by tourists, hunters, hikers, and others. “Leave nothing but footprints” means clean up your waste from the lunch or snacks your brought along on your adventure. “Kill nothing but time” means refrain from killing wild animals and plants whose natural habitat you are currently invading.

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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"Take nothing but pictures.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Kill nothing but time." 

This quote was the motto of the Baltimore Grotto, a caving society and it is part of the "Leave No Trace" philosophy of naturalist all over the world.   It basically means that when we are in a natural setting we should leave no trace of human intervention.  We should, by all means, take pictures for our memories of our adventures.  We should not leave anything behind such as trash, beer cans, paper, tobacco filters, plastic bags etc.  We should be careful not to kill any of the wildlife in the area which includes animals, plants, and any living thing. We are stewards of this beautiful planet and we should not leave our imprint on any natural area. The motto itself could have come from the quotation,

"Take only memories, leave only footprints," by Chief Seattle

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epollock | Student

When I went camping in the Adirondacks, these phrases were placed every few miles on signs. I am not sure of the literary work that these are in, but the phrases refer to not stealing anything in the park when you take pictures, do not leave any personal refuse or garbage other than your footprints, and do not harm any wildlife or other nature's creatures.

It basically means to treat the outdoors with respect, and nature in return will provide you with many wonderful moments.

This is a very good quote that one can live their life by. For example, if you are invited over to a person's home, you shouldn't disturb anything of theirs and hopefully, you won't accidentally take something home with you. If someone loans you something, you should try to return it in its original condition. That doesn't mean that you have to deprive yourself of the value of it. It just means to respect other people's property.