How To Have a Sustainable Camping Adventure & Leave No Trace
Camping: essentially enjoying quiet time in nature and reconnecting with yourself or family and friends. This should almost be a required summer activity. Getting your feet on the actual earth; swimming in lakes; hiking nature trails new to you; cooking food over an open fire. Slowing down and living a simple life outdoors for a few days does wonders to rejuvenate the spirit.
If you plan to partake in this joyous activity this year and wish to do so in an eco-friendly and sustainable manner, follow along for some easy ideas to take into the forests, mountains, and natural springs with you. This is camping with environmental responsibility and awareness, making discerning decisions that minimize impact on the environment.
BENEFITS OF ECO CAMPING
#1 Minimize Impact
When communing with nature, it is vital that we all do our part to protect and conserve these wild spaces for years to come. By practicing conscious camping we minimize our impact on the environment. The goal is to “Leave No Trace” or even better than we found it.
#2 Reduce Greenhouse Gases
As far as vacations go, eco-camping is a very low emissions alternative to other options. The main purpose for a vacation is to destress, improve mental health, connect with others, and learn new things. Doesn’t camping sound ideal for just that?! Instead of flying somewhere, staying in hotels or the equivalent, and doing all manner of activities that most likely produce emissions, the alternative of camping mostly requires plain old human power. Hiking, biking, walking, rowing on the water- only emissions here are produced by people energy.
#3 Wildlife Opportunities
Spending time in the wilderness offers amazing wildlife spotting opportunities. If you live in the city, you may almost never have the chance to see animals in their natural habitats. Getting to view or possibly even interact with wildlife up close and in person is such a memorable experience and one most people will recall all their lives. This is absolutely one incredible benefit of camping.
#4 Save Dinero
It’s difficult to argue that camping is a less expensive option to other vacations where you’ll be paying considerably more for lodging (camp sites are an average of $10-40 a night), food, entertainment, and transportation.
#5 Regain Your Sanity
Camping is an amazing activity for improving both mental and physical health. Literally hundreds of studies have shown how being in nature promotes mental well-being. And your physical well-being will also be enhanced by simply spending time in the fresh air, sun, and engaging in all activities related to camping.
TIPS FOR SUSTAINABLE CAMPING
- Avoid crowded parks- do your research and seek out destinations that are less visited.
- Camp in the off-season- if there is a popular destination you had your heart set on, consider traveling in the off-season or on weekdays.
- Unless you are on an all-natural diet, your waste (poop) contains chemicals, bacteria, and other microorganisms that can be harmful to the environment. Thus it’s quite an important part of eco-camping: dealing with human waste in a responsible way. If an outhouse or other facilities are not available in your campsite, you’ll need to bury your waste by digging a hole 6 inches deep. Do not bury toilet paper! You’ll have to take that with you. Read more: How to Poop in the Woods
Printable list provide by “Meal Plan Addict”.
- Pack food in bulk sizes. Meal plan! See outline above to help organize.
- Avoid single use plastic where possible; no disposable one-time use items.
- Consider using non-plastic packaging such as beeswax paper or silicone bags.
- Use reusable containers where possible.
- Reusable water bottles.
- Avoid products with toxic chemicals, including: sunscreen, bug spray, toothpaste, toiletries, and any other products that contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Use only all-natural, non-toxic products to not contaminate these fragile natural areas.
- Pack-out: this means taking everything you brought back with you. Don’t leave a single trace of garbage, food scraps, or other waste.
- Respect animals by not intentionally attracting wildlife, which includes not leaving food out and around your campsite.
- Minimize impact by staying on designated trails at camp and when hiking. When side trails develop, soil compacts making it harder for some plants to grow and insects to thrive as well as contributing to increased erosion. Building makeshift campsites can cause similar damage.
Borrow, Rent, Share, Purchase Second Hand: Camping Gear
Living an eco-conscious and friendly lifestyle means not buying ‘new’ whenever ever possible, instead using resources at your disposal. Unless you are an avid camper and only venture forth once or twice a year it may not be prudent to purchase all the camping gear you need. Thankfully there are many sustainable option such as:
- Borrowing from friends
- Purchasing used
If you start camping regularly, you will have now tried out some gear and will be able to make educated decisions on what you’d like to invest in. Purchasing items made from recycled and/or organic materials is always the first choice.
List provided by “Wit & Wander”. This list covers everything. Feel free to reduce 🙂
The most important part of eco and sustainable camping is making educated and intentional choices to respect nature, leave no trace, and shop/prepare wisely. As a last step, on your way out, remember to sweep your campsite for any trash. Once everything is packed up, it’ll be easy to spot stragglers. Pack everything you find (even if it’s not yours). One of the most important tenets of eco camping is to always leave the campsite better than you found it.
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