How To Have A More Sustainable Camping Trip
Glamping has become a buzzword among sustainably-minded travelers. A portmanteau of “glamourous” and “camping,” glamping attempts to combine the comforts of modern living with the thrill of sleeping outdoors. It’s a broad term that can refer to a stay in a luxurious temperature-controlled tent to a jaunt in a no-frills yurt or treehouse.
While glamping undoubtedly results in a lower carbon footprint than more traditional accommodations like hotels and resorts, there are ways to make a camp experience even more eco-friendly. Perhaps the most sustainable camping philosophy is the “leave no trace” approach. Leave No Trace is a series of nature-friendly principles that encourage campers to leave their campsite exactly as they found it, and to carry out everything that they brought.
As more Americans become educated on sustainability, people are extending those conscious habits to every facet of life, including outdoor activities like camping. And according to Forbes, camping is rising in popularity, especially among millennials. As we strive to be as eco-conscious as possible in our daily lives and our leisure activities, here are some considerations to make your next outdoor getaway as eco-friendly as possible.
We all know the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle. This directive is just as important when camping. Try to reduce your waste as much as possible, and plan ahead to bring non-biodegradable waste with you when you leave. You may want to bring reusable bags so you can separate the trash into compost and recycling. If there are no recycling facilities at your campsite, pack up your trash and take it to a place where it can be disposed of properly.
Think carefully about what you pack. What you bring with you, and what you leave at home, will have an environmental impact. Consider gadgets that have rechargeable batteries or operate on solar power, eliminating the need to hook a device up to your car or pack excess batteries.
‘Repair and reuse’ is a good guiding principle. If you’ve already got camping gear, you may be able to have it repaired for additional use. If you need gear, check sites like Freecycle or your local thrift store for used goods as opposed to buying brand new items. Other sites like Swap let you trade gear, and it’s also possible to rent gear.
The average drugstore soap and toothpaste can take a long time to break down in the wilderness, so it’s best to bring biodegradable toiletries. The good news is many biodegradable soaps can not only clean your skin but your dishes as well.
Many commercial sunscreens, lotions, and insect repellent all contain chemicals that can harm aquatic life. If a product says it’s water-soluble, it likely contains ingredients that are toxic to the environment. Choose alternative products that will have the least impact on water quality.
Consider making your own snacks instead of bringing individually packaged goods that will result in additional waste. You can wrap your snacks in reusable beeswax wraps or in another reusable container.
When planning meals, try to buy food in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging. And although paper plates are lightweight and convenient, it’s best to bring reusable or biodegradable dishes.
When You Get There
It’s best to stay on marked trails and only camp in designated areas, both for your own safety as well as that of the environment.
If a camping experience just isn’t complete for you without a campfire, make sure you follow campfire safety rules. A fire that gets out of control will become a hazard for your fellow campers as well as your surroundings. Only build fires where fires are allowed and build them in a fire pit. Rather than put the fire out and walk away, wait 45 minutes to be sure all flames have been extinguished.