With camping trips, festivals, cabin/cottage life, and extended hikes upon us, we are thinking hard about what sustainable camping means and how we can bring our low-waste and low-impact rituals into any outdoor adventure.
Camping is an outdoor activity involving overnight stays away from home in a shelter, such as a tent or an RV. There are a lot of outdoor activities that might fall under the hood of “camping” such as going to a festival, hiking multi-day treks, maybe staying in a cabin/cottage, or attending an outdoor camp!
For the purpose of this article we decided to compartmentalize camping into two different (dare we say it)... camps:
Stationary Camping: where you are camping in one spot and the width of your environmental impact is centralized.
Mobile Camping: where you are moving from site to site and your environmental impact is dispersed.
When it comes to sustainability, it’s more about the campers than the type of camping... but it’s helpful to consider what type of camping you will be participating in, as this can have an impact on what you pack.
SUSTAINABLE CAMPING TIPS
Be prepared! Bring multiple clear bags to sort and store your garbage, recycling, and other waste streams.
Avoid single-use items: bring reusable cutlery/plates, water bottles, cups, etc. If there isn’t clean drinking water nearby, then bring water purification tablets or a filter and avoid buying bottled water.
Consider your greywater: use biodegradable soap and be conscious of where you are dumping your greywater.
Pack low-impact skincare: Bug spray, sunscreen, lotion, and soap. These are all examples of products that could be harmful to the local ecosystem and cause serious damage to the marine environment.
Choose to bring a facecloth and water instead of baby wipes. We know it is convenient but there are a lot of toxic ingredients in single-use wipe products and we wouldn’t advise it for either your skin’s health or the environment’s!
Make a list of meals and shop smart! Shop bulk and use reusable bags, and skip the giant department store if possible!
Only bring what you know you can eat and finish. Often while camping, leftovers don’t get eaten so best to prepare your meals and bring snacks that can easily be saved or opened at a later time.
Bring Tupperware/stainless steel food containers for bits and bobs of food that you’ll want to take home. Once the food is opened, you don’t want it floating around in the cooler - so it’s important to pack it up in containers that you can reuse. If weight or space is an issue (especially for multi-day hiking trips) consider buying a set of reusable silicone bags to replace your Ziploc bags.
Buy previously owned gear. Sites like Used.com, Craigslist, and Varage Sale often have high quality and lightly used camping gear.
Skip the small green propane tanks (they usually cannot be recycled and end up in the landfill) and invest in a 10 or 20lb propane tank that can be refilled and used over and over!
Carpool! Bonus points for saving on gas money too!
Check for the local fire bans!!!! Save the forests!!!