Your Guide To Green Camping
Ahhh nature. We can’t get enough of it. It’s where we’re truly meant to be so there’s no wonder it feels like a home away from home. And with the ever-loudening hustle bustle that permeates our oh-so busy lives these days – a little getaway into the arms of mother nature can seem like a blessing.
However, while we’re enjoying what mother nature has to give us, we tend to forget the harm we could be doing to her precious gifts. You see, maybe camping and being eco-friendly go hand in hand in our minds.
Why wouldn’t they?
Surely getting back in touch with the planet and becoming one with nature is the best way to become environmentally conscious?
As anyone who’s been camping can attest to – it’s a waste fest. Bags upon plastic bags of rubbish build up over time as you tear into readymade meals and rip the packaging off your newly bought equipment. There’s a reason why bins are such a big deal at camping sites and it’s because we almost always need them!
And this is without even mentioning the many caravan tracks, scorched earth from campfires, and trodden on wildlife. There is, however, a popular phrase among the camping community that’s used to keep destruction in check. “what is the phrase?” you may be asking?
Leave. No. Trace. Behind.
The less evidence that you’ve been camping in a specific spot, the better. We’re meant to leave nature looking untouched and as fresh as ever.
But what if there was a better way of doing things? What if there was a way to marvel at nature while giving it its due respect?
If you’re asking any of these questions, they’ve already been answered – green camping.
You might even have heard of the term ‘green camping’ before and you’re sure to hear more about it as it gains popularity among adventurers, hikers, and outdoor-lovers alike.
What exactly is green camping?
Green camping is the product of a world that’s growing more eco-conscious by the day. The aim of green camping is to not only limit the amount of visible waste produced during camping but also to decrease the invisible waste – essentially zero waste camping.
Another goal of green camping is to decrease demand on the earth’s natural resources and limit pollution by using earth-friendly products.
And of course, since green camping is all about respecting nature and wildlife – the ‘leave no trace behind’ mantra still applies.
So, if you’re planning a family camping trip, a weekend getaway into nature, or even enjoying some glamping – there’s a way to do it with the earth in mind.
Let’s explore some of those green camping methods together!
Use, reuse, recycle, repurpose!
I know that we all try our best to follow these virtues at all times but it can become especially difficult when camping. As hard as we might try, a little bit of waste slips through here and there, before we know it, we have a whole rubbish bag filled!
So, it’s time to plan.
Recycling, reusing, and repurposing doesn’t exactly come naturally to most people – especially not in unfamiliar surroundings. This means a lot of careful preparation needs to be done. A little bit of research on eco-friendly camping here and there goes an awful long way.
Why not write out a list of the things you’ll need? Consider every situation you could possibly be affronted with and then think about the products that’ll suit that moment.
Now it’s time to have a look around the house. Yes, I know, we’re not all expert campers and don’t have tents just lying around the house but camping’s about getting back to basics! So, now’s your time to get creative.
Got a few tea towels around the house? You have no idea how useful and versatile the humble tea towel can be in nature. So, say bye-bye to paper towels and napkins! The sustainable towel is back in an eco-friendly style.
And don’t eye up those plastic plates and cutlery when you’ve got perfectly good, sustainable alternatives in your kitchen drawers! It’s time to scout the house high and low for things you’re planning on buying.
A small tip of my own is to just bring one bag of rubbish along with you. Leave the whole roll at home – you’ll only be tempted. Trying to keep your waste to one bag can even become a fun game for you and whoever you’re camping with.
So, recycling, repurposing, and reusing can be fun with the added bonus of a clean conscious. You can wave goodbye to your camping spot knowing you’ve treated it well.
Buy sustainable (or borrow!)
Alright, alright, it’s time to admit it. As hard as we might look, we’re just not going to have everything we need already. Some purchases will likely have to be made. And that’s completely fine.
You see, whatever you’re trying to do in life, there’s always an eco-friendly way to do it. This, of course, includes shopping!
Second-hand, thrift, and zero waste stores are your friends here. It may not be immediately easy to find sustainable camping gear in these shops but with a little bit of perseverance – anything can be found.
There are even online eco-friendly shops that offer second-hand camping gear such as Outdoorsgeek.com. Not only can you buy high-quality second-hand camping gear from this online marketplace, but you can also rent out sleeping bags, tents, and coolers! There are few more sustainable practices than renting! You get all the use and none of the waste.
Keep an eye out for tents made out of biodegradable and sustainable materials such as hemp or other 100% recycled materials. Determine what types of coatings are used for waterproofing. You want a tent that uses solvent-free polyurethane coating.
Of course, if you’re going to be staying in a cabin, you needn’t worry too much about sleeping bags or tents.
A better idea, however, might just be asking your friends, family, or colleagues if they have any camping gear they could part ways with for a while. Camping is a popular activity, you’re bound to find someone who would be happy to share their hobby with you. Just be sure to repay back their favor with a few baked goods or a drink or two.
And if you really really must buy something new – make sure it’s sturdy and will last a long time. If you can reuse it multiple times, then it’s as good as sustainable! You can even give it up to a second-hand shop or sell it online if you’re looking to declutter after camping. Whatever you do – don’t throw it out.
Make use of nature!
Us humans are an innovative bunch and we’re usually at our most creative in nature. Nature even offers us a helping hand by being packed full of renewable resources for us to enjoy.
So, why not accept nature’s offering and cut back on the need to pack anything unnecessary with you?
Forget about buying water in plastic bottles – it’s time to buy a sustainable water container (preferably with a filter.) Even a few sturdy glass jars will do for this purpose. All that’s left to do is fill up the containers in any nearby water source or fountain.
Also, when washing dishes and cutlery – it’s best to use just one bucket of water and dispose of the soapy water on vegetation or soil instead of into lakes or rivers.
Solar powered camping
Since you’ll be out under the sun during the daytime and sleeping under the stars at night, it’s time to put that light to use! Innovative products are popping up every day on the camping scene that pair eco-friendly sustainable camping with a more ‘glamping-esque’ experience.
Take the solar sleeping bag as an example. These state-of-the-art sleeping bags are usually made out of 100% recyclable materials BUT there’s a twist. They also have USB slots that you can use to charge your phone or any other electrical appliance – and all solar powered!
Better yet are solar powered tents that are made out of solar fabric. This incredible solar fabric can be used to catch the sun’s rays from all sides which then converts into electricity. This electricity can be used to charge or power almost anything.
Portable shower systems
Look for a rising system that uses garden hose pressure without any need for batteries or a pump. These systems compress air in their chamber which forces water out of the nozzle and onto whatever you’d like to clean. Dishes, clothes, even yourself – the water pressure is sufficient enough to give anything a good rinse. And it is sustainable to boot! Perfect for any green camping trip.
Watch out for your chemicals
This is an easy one to forget and is what constitutes most of the ‘invisible waste’ that we produce when camping. You see, nature is the perfectly balanced home of many creatures that require it remains this way to survive. When we come into the picture with our soaps, shampoo, bug repellent, and water-proof coatings – we tend to shake things up a bit.
Most of the nonorganic or synthetic products we use contain silicon and microplastics that if used in nature can eventually make their way into the ecosystem. And that spells disaster for our little animal friends.
Avoid using any soaps or hygiene products directly in bodies of water. If you must, bring a bucket with you to collect any water you need.
However, to really get to the source of the problem – we must focus on the chemicals in our products. By using natural products such as zero waste cosmetics, including zero waste shampoo and deodorant, your harmful impact on the environment is drastically minimized.
Even deodorants, shampoos, sunscreens, and bug repellents can be natural. Keep an eye out for them when doing any necessary shopping for your camping trip. And yes! You win some, you lose some. It’s alright to buy natural products if they’ll all be used and they benefit the environment.
Be strategic about mealtimes – limit food waste
One of the biggest culprits when it comes to producing waste while camping is food. Most premade camping food comes in plastic or foil packaging that can’t exactly be 100% recycled. Tinned food is also quite hazardous.
So, what’s there to do? You’re going to get hungry and need to eat, exploring nature is hard work after all!
This is where a cooler can come in hand. All you have to do is fill it up with iceblocks and it’ll preserve any food you put into it. This means that you can make your meals at home and store them in reusable plastic containers, just like lunchboxes.
However, if this isn’t possible for you, you can easily just minimize your waste production by only bringing what you need with you. So, if you must take packaged food, be sure to know how many meals you can get out of it so that you won’t have to throw any away!
It’s even worthwhile to factor in snack times and what you plan to eat for them. Snacks such as fruit or nuts are particularly zero waste and compostable.
So, now that you’ve got the food – you’re going to have to cook it!
Many countries have restrictions and laws in place surrounding the lighting of campfires. Not only is this because they can easily lead to forest fires but also because they leave a mark in the landscape behind them.
Be sure to check for the local legislation if you’re camping in the wild. Most camping sites will just flat out refuse to entertain the idea of campfires on their site, so it’s best just to bring along a freestanding grill or a portable stove that can burn wood. In fact, burning wood is considered a more sustainable alternative to non-renewable gas or oil fuel that’s generally used to heat stoves.
Even a B&Q grill can suffice for cooking a hearty meal while camping, so, if you think you can carry it with you, why not? However, if you’re looking for something a little more up-scale and suited to ‘glamping,’ why not look into a state-of-the-art solar-powered portable camping stove? These camping stoves eliminate the need for non-renewable fuel such as oil and coal, instead of harnessing the sun’s energy and turning it into heat.
So, keep an eye out for eco-friendly and sustainable camping stoves – you may be surprised by the selection that you find!
Not only are these modern stoves absolutely fantastic for the environment and delightfully sustainable, some even come with USB ports, meaning that you can charge your phone (or any electronics) using the power of the sun!
Talk about making camping cool again!
Respect your surroundings – tread lightly
Green camping isn’t all about reducing your carbon footprint but also about minimizing your actual footprints on nature.
This can be hard to remember when you’re wandering through enchanting forests and in awe of your surroundings but you never know what’s beneath your feet. What’s preparing to grow or sprout.
Everything has its place in nature and it’s there for a reason.
By not watching your step, you risk causing detrimental harm to ecosystems. In turn, this can negatively affect the health or and well-being of any creature, plant, or tree in the system.
However, there’s a way to save the trees and little critters without needing to worry about where you explore! You can check online for the accessibility of the area you are staying in. This includes restrictions placed on certain activities in the area such as pitching tent or hiking.
You’d be surprised.
Many of the United States most beautiful and picturesque landscapes can be subject to restrictions surrounding camping or trekking.
And if you’re still not sure, stick to the “leave no trace” camping mantra.
Reduce your C02 emissions en route
For some of us, going away means going far. But if you want to have an environmentally-friendly trip, it’s best to stay close to home. By minimizing the amount of time spent in a car or van, you also minimize the number of harmful emissions you send out into the atmosphere.
So, be sure to pack up one car instead of bringing along two or three! And keep the journey short if you can to decrease your footprint.
Look into public transport that can get you from A to B without much trouble. I know that this simply isn’t possible for some destinations but most popular camping sites are well-connected by buses, trains, and other transport options.
Also, if the weather permits it and if your camping gear is light enough, you could easily get public transport within walking distance of where you wish to camp.
So, there you have it – everything you need to know to get started on your green camping trip! I hope this article has offered you valuable insights that’ll serve you on even the rainiest and toughest days out under the stars. Give yourself time to get accustomed to sustainable camping and enjoy the entire journey, it’s not going to happen over-night. All you can do is keep the betterment of the world in mind while enjoying some of the most beautiful scenery and nature it has to offer.