Whether you are new to camping or are an experienced camper, you should review if you are doing the best you can for the environment and our planet. Walking in pristine nature and exploring the surroundings is one of the biggest joys. It is our task and responsibility to protect it for future generations. In this article, we will reveal 11 tips for greener camping.
Many people choose to go to a nice hotel when going on holiday. Their idea of relaxation is to enjoy comfort and luxury. But hotels and resorts are huge polluters. Traditionally, the hotel industry has generated a lot of unnecessary waste to offer desired comfort and luxury. Three main week points in the hotel industry are excessive use of water and energy and excessive production of garbage. Fortunately, it is changing, and the industry is adopting green policies. Nevertheless, spending a night, a weekend, or a week at a hotel leaves a big carbon footprint. If you want to relax and be eco-conscious, you should try camping. What can be more relaxing than waking up to the sound of birds, trees, or a creek?
11 tips for greener camping:
If you do not have your own equipment yet, but you are not sure if you will go camping often, don't rush to buy everything. First, ask around! Your family and friends might lend you their equipment. Alternatively, look into renting it.
Giving any item or resource as much use as possible lowers its carbon footprint. When you decide you will use the equipment frequently, choose a durable, quality tent, sleeping bag, and other camping gear. Nowadays, it is easy to find equipment made from recycled materials or natural fibers. Investing in better, usually more expensive gear means it will last for much longer and save natural resources and your finances over the long term.
2. Good camping spot
Choosing a good camping spot can make a difference in how eco-conscious your trip will be. If you pick a designated camping area, they will have an infrastructure in place to handle waste disposal, maybe even a composting site. They might have safe cooking spaces to avoid wildfires. You will be using their water to shower and wash your stuff, so you won't pollute any natural water resources.
If you want to go wild camping, pick a place that is already flat and clear and avoid moving or damaging vegetation and the natural setting. Search for a place off the path, so you don't disrupt other hikers, and they don't disrupt you.
3. Getting to the camping site
Transportation has a significant impact on the environment, and cars emit around 40% of greenhouse gases from overall means of transportation. Therefore, avoiding taking a car can have a positive impact. If your camping site is nearby and you feel like it, you could bike there and add some exercise to the trip. If the site is further away, explore public transport options: bus or train. If you are adventurous, you can hitchhike to lower the footprint of the cars that are already on the road.
4. Reusable water bottle or coffee mug
Bring an eco-friendly reusable water bottle and/or a travel mug instead of single-use plastic bottles and easily reduce single-use plastics. Our bottle is ideal in the summer, keeping liquids cold for 24 hours and in the cold weather keeping hot drinks hot for 12 hours! The bottle is made of food-grade stainless steel with a tough construction, but lightweight design. Our mug is made of organic bamboo with a stainless 304 steel lining and a recyclable polypropylene lid.
If you will be replenishing your water from a river, creek, or lake, investigate whether it is safe, or you need to bring a water filter of some kind.
Check out environmentally friendly drinkware
5. Natural eco-friendly cleaning supplies
When camping, we need to get cleaned, and we need to wash dishes and such. The best thing to do is take water from a lake or creek and clean whatever you need away from the water source (at least 60 meters). This way the water in the source doesn't get polluted. Even if you do this, it is important to use cleaning supplies that won't pollute the environment.
Natural biodegradable soap will do fine for taking a shower and cleaning your dishes. If you can use a campsite to take a shower or wash dishes, even better, as they will have a greywater treatment system on-site.
6. Always take your rubbish home with you
I am sure this was already on your mind, but it is always good to remember the basics. If we can take the items with us on the way there, we can definitely make room for them on our way back. Many of the items will be lighter as we consume their contents. You should even take the compostables. The banana peel in the forest is not very natural, even though eventually it will decompose. If you want to leave the biodegradable waste on the site, you should bury it. No one needs to see a pile of rotting food and we don't want animals eating food that is not their usual diet. Your camping site should look the same as you found it when you leave.
7. Potty time
There is a potty etiquette when camping. You should never pee or poo close to any water source to avoid polluting it. Check that you are at least 60 meters away from any water or food source. The further, the better. If you go number two, make sure to move away from the path, don't leave any surprises for other hikers and campers. And even though you are not going close to the trail, you should dig a small hole, go there, and then cover it. Take the toilet paper back with your trash.
8. Cooking and using fire
Before you go camping, you should find out what kind of cooking is permitted on the spot. There are places where lighting a fire is strictly prohibited, but you might be able to use a portable gas stove. Even if a fire is allowed, always check the surroundings and assess whether there is no risk of causing a wildfire. Use designated fireplaces if possible. Never leave fire lit without your supervision. Don't fall asleep if the fire is still going.
9. Solar power
If you will be camping for a longer period and you need to charge your phone, bring a portable solar charger. It may save you in an emergency. There are even portable solar stoves or grills on the market now.
10. Take care of the natural surroundings
This is a no-brainer, and something we consider basic for eco-friendly camping, hiking, or just caring for nature and the environment. We should always strive to be gentle to the wildlife. Never pick plants, take flowers, or any other kind of “souvenir.” When walking off-path, do not disrupt the surroundings. You never know which branch (even if it was on the ground) may be a part of a nest or other kind of animal shelter.
11. Buy local, seasonal food, prefer veggie meals
Buying local and seasonal food (fruits and veggies, local specialties) on the spot can save considerable amounts of greenhouse gasses from being emitted due to transportation and excessive packaging. This lowers the carbon footprint of every item you buy.
Moreover, lowering your meat consumption also reduces the overall greenhouse gasses emissions and water used to produce your food.
As you can see, there are many smaller and bigger steps you can take to green your camping. Pick the ones right for you, and feel great about doing something good for the planet. Taking care of nature and wildlife should be in the interest of anyone who loves camping. You don’t want to see the trash of other campers/hikers, so as the saying goes: Don't do unto others what you don't want done unto you. If everyone protects the environment, we will all be able to enjoy it for years to come.
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