5 tips for Eco-Friendly Camping
The great outdoors are calling, and it’s only right that you answer the call. Keep in mind, however, that they’re also calling plenty of other people all around the world. And not everyone has appropriate respect for nature. Nothing can dampen a beautiful outdoor adventure quite as fast as stumbling upon someone else’s trash or other evidence of disrespect for the outdoors.
Don’t be someone who contributes to the destruction of the outdoors. Instead, learn how to do your part in keeping nature natural. Use these five tips for eco-friendly camping.
1. Create as Little Trash as Possible
One of the best ways to minimize your impact is to create very little trash. While bringing paper plates, utensils, cups, and more is an easy move you could make, it’s not the most eco-friendly decision. Instead, bring along reusable dishes and utensils. You’ll make less of an impact on the landfills, and you won’t be in danger of unwittingly leaving trash behind when you pack up.
If you don’t camp very often, you can pick up some mismatched, but sturdy, items from your local thrift store. Purchasing pre-owned items is a great way to cut back on your carbon footprint. If you camp often (or intend to), however, it’s worth it to invest in dishes made for camping. You can find kits that fold up into themselves so they take up very little room.
And it goes without saying, but make sure you take out any other trash you create! It doesn’t hurt to pick up trash as you see it along your trails either.
2. Leave the Trailblazing to the Professionals
Trails are there for a reason… well, multiple reasons. They keep you safe, they keep you from getting lost, and they protect the wildlife in the area. Wandering off the trail may seem harmless, but you don’t know what native plant life you’re trampling. You can destroy tiny ecosystems with just a few misplaced steps. To keep your impact on the environment at a minimum, stay on the trails, follow the signs, and watch for cairns to guide you.
Likewise, only pitch your tent in designated camping spots. These areas have been set aside and prepared for campers, so you can rest assured that you won’t be damaging nature. If you’re going into the backcountry, pitch your tent in a place that will have the smallest impact — a rock slab, packed dirt, or gravel.
3. Use Non-Toxic Sunscreen and Insect Repellent
Nothing brings fun to a screeching halt quicker than a terrible sunburn or a pair of legs full of mosquito bites. You need to protect yourself from the dangers of the sun and biting insects, but it’s important that you don’t destroy the environment in which they live. Remember: you want to leave no trace, and that includes a trace of chemicals. The chemicals in many sunscreens and insect repellents can cause damage to the air, water, plants, and animals in the wilderness (not to mention, your own health). Instead, opt for natural, effective insect repellent and sunscreen.
4. Skip Bottled Water
By now, most people know bottled water isn’t an eco-friendly choice. In fact, eighty percent of purchased bottled water ends up in landfills. Not only that, before a bottle of water ever reaches your hands, it has already used three times as much water as it holds in just the manufacturing process.
When you’re planning your camping trip, you may be tempted to reach for the easier solution — a case of bottled water. But you can reduce your impact on the environment if you bring reusable water bottles and water coolers, and fill them up at your campsite.
5. Use Biodegradable Soap
You know how difficult it is to keep clean when you’re camping (especially if you have kids tagging along!). So you’ll for sure want to pack some soap for washing up. But be conscientious about the soap you purchase. Regular soaps contain chemicals, like phosphates, surfactants, and tricolosans that are nearly impossible to break down naturally. Not only that, but they’re poison to the soil and water in the outdoors. These chemicals can spike algal growth, which destroys ecosystems.
Instead, use biodegradable soap that can be broken down naturally. Biodegradable soap won’t linger in the soil or cause algal growth. It’s your best option for keeping clean while protecting the outdoors.
Enjoying the outdoors in an eco-friendly way actually isn’t much more effort. It just takes a little forethought and preparation to do your part in leaving no trace. Try to make new eco-friendly improvements each time you venture outdoors. Mother Earth with thank you.
After beating skin cancer, both Brad Zaro and his wife Debi became wary of spending time outside. Unable to find protecting products that didn’t harm the environment or their bodies, they founded Deter Outdoor and Kaiderma Skin Care with lines of natural repellants, sunscreens, and topical skincare therapies.