Guest post by R. Kimberly
One may think that camping is an eco-friendly way to spend the weekend. Being one with nature and sleeping under the stars does seem to have a greener side however, unless you are camping like you are on a survival episode, you most likely have brought some modern-day perks to the trip. As Newton has taught us; “for every action there is a reaction”. Every moment we are camping, we will have the potential to create a positive or negative imprint on our surroundings.
The decision to live a green lifestyle is beneficial to our homes, health and environment. It is important to remain consistent throughout each day. At home, you may have several processes in place for optimized efficiency. Your workplace may have also adopted ecofriendly practices, or furniture that keeps you more active, like an ergonomic workstation from Jason L. So, how do we stay green over a weekend away from our daily routine? Camping is a popular home away from home for many families and individuals. The night air mingles with the freedom from the bustling week while camp fires are lit with the delightful sounds of laughter and old-fashioned conversation. Below, you will find a handy guide to keep your camping green and marshmallows roasted.
Green living has raised awareness for our natural spaces and the need to preserve them. Here are some tips on how you can enjoy a comfortable and fun camping trip without having a negative impact on the environment.
Ditch the trash– When you head for the hills, you may be tempted to grab conveniently packaged, processed foods. Packs of ramen noodles, cans of soup and instant meals are easier to make, but you will then create a bunch of trash which you will need to carry out. Do not burn your trash as many products, like plastics and polystyrene, release toxic gases when burned. While it takes a little more planning and effort, cooking fresh foods is delicious, nutritious and creates less garbage. Take fruits and veggies and plan barbecues.
Carry a biodegradable bag to keep your trash in. Be sure to pack out all your garbage so that your favorite natural places remain beautiful.
Stay on Track– Whether you are camping in a designated spot or one of your own design, you will want to use a map of the area or a GPS. Stay on the designated paths in order to reduce your impact on the environment. Keep your pets on a leash so that they also remain on the path and don’t disturb wildlife.
One of the most common reasons to veer off the track is when you are looking for firewood. Try collecting firewood on your way to your campsite. The areas around campsites have usually been picked clean of usable firewood, so start further afield. Never damage trees when getting firewood–green wood doesn’t burn well anyway.
Bring your own firewood or charcoal, but only use wood from the area. If you bring wood from another area, you may be importing diseases and insects that are not native.
Proper Plating– The easiest way to enjoy your favorite campfire foods is by stocking up with a stack of paper plates and cups. Try switching to reusable plates, reusable travel drinking and coffee cups, and cutlery and ditch the straws altogether. This will save on unnecessary waste and trash. Avoid processed foods with a lot of packaging that will produce garbage and opt instead for natural items which are biodegrade. Only cook as much as you need to reduce waste. Do not leave leftovers for animals to eat–it attracts animals to campsites where they can cause issues for other campers.
The Energy of the Sun– There are several solar-powered products that can replace many of your essential camping items. Lighting and lanterns, chargers, radios and communication devices can all be found with built-in solar panels. Letting the sun fuel your trip without the use of electricity or batteries will make a positive impact on the environment.
The Power of Flowers– Flowers are naturally beautiful and can help make your camping trip more comfortable. Chrysanthemums, Lavender and Petunias can help your campsite deter pesky and uninvited guests. Fresh arrangements on a table can add a cheerful ambiance and repurposed dried sachets will add a refreshing scent to your bug-free nights. Topical sunscreens and bug sprays made from organic materials can also be mixed at home and brought along for the ride, making a toxic-free camping zone. Get a bug spray recipe here, a tick repellent recipe here and a black fly recipe here.
Natural Soaps – Using soaps made from natural, biodegradable ingredients will ensure you lessen your impact on the environment. You should still not put these soaps directly into the water, so dig a hole at least 10 yards from waterways and pour soapy water in. There are many collapsible basins for washing that fold up neatly to fit in your backpack.
Water Ways – Just say no to disposable water bottles and straws. Get a BPA-free reusable water bottle that you can refill. You can pack a water filter or water purification tablets to ensure that your drinking water is safe. Reusing water bottles are better for the environment and better for your wallet.
We camp and hike and canoe because we love natural places and the animals who live in them. When we make a choice for green camping, we are choosing to preserve the environments we love so much. Leaving litter, damaging trees when looking for firewood or going off the beaten path all contribute to destroying our favorite campsites.