Excellent Ways to Green Your Camping Trip
For many people, going camping is a way to appreciate nature and spend time in the wild. It acts as a relaxing recharge that helps them find peace away from all the excitement in town. It does not seem like you can find any other way to admire the environment. However, many people actually harm the environment when they go camping. While they enjoy the scenery and lack of overwhelming noises, they litter, dump chemicals into the water, and disrupt the plants and animals. If you want to help the environment on your next camping trip, you will have to make extra preparations. Here are ways that you can go green while you camp.
Choose Your Location
For most people, you have to travel to another place for your camping trip. The travel requires taking a vehicle, which adds to the emissions in the environment. To reduce your contribution to air pollution, choose a location that is closer to where you live. This may be at a national park or other state campgrounds. Either way, they are better equipped for camping and allow you to be close to nature close to home.
Once you make it to the campground, you then need to decide where to pitch your tent or park your camper. You may be tempted to choose a spot away from the established campsites, but this can be harmful to the environment. Placing your tent on the plants can smother them and take a long time to recover. A good rule to follow is to camp in an area where no one will know you were there. Established campsites are also safer because the ground is already more level and stable. The ground off the beaten path may harbor hazards that you do not see.
Only Use Reusable Materials
Just because you are going on a camping trip does not mean that you can throw out your other eco-friendly practices. When many people go camping, they stock up on disposable plates, bowls, and cutlery. Some people even bring cases of plastic water bottles, which is not healthy for them or the environment. When you use disposable items, you will quickly fill up the trash cans at the campground or you will have to carry it all out. This only adds to what you already have to carry and can get bulky.
Instead, take reusable items with you on your trip. You can find lightweight materials at many stores, so they will not add unnecessary weight to your pack. This makes it so that you only need one set for each person, and you would wash them off after each meal. It is also important to bring your water in bulk and carry around a reusable water bottle. For one, reusable water bottles cut down on waste, but they also reduce your use of single-use plastics. Be sure to bring plenty of water though so you can stay hydrated.
Think Green with Energy Use
When it comes to the gadgets that you do need to bring, a GPS and your phone are crucial. These will help you navigate and give you a way to call for help in the case of an emergency. Everything else, like a mini-fridge or games, are not as important so you should not use a ton of energy to keep them running. It is more important to make sure the essentials are always ready. If you want to use the most sustainable and renewable energy source, go solar to charge everything. There are plenty of portable solar panels that work great and have different ports that allow you to charge different electronics.
Recycle and Pack Out Your Trash
Depending on where you go on your camping trip, the campground may already have trash cans for you to use. Other areas specifically tell you that you will need to pack out your trash and dispose of them back home. This helps to keep the area clean and safe for the local wildlife. This also means that if you see any trash that is not yours, do a good deed and pick it up. It may also be tempting to throw everything in the trash, but you should also separate what you can recycle as well. You can do this easily by bringing two different bags and designate them for each type of waste. This way, it will be easy for everyone on the trip to know where they need to store their trash.
If you have food waste like peels, be sure to store your trash in a safe place. This will prevent animals from getting into your site while looking for food. You also should not intentionally leave food out for animals or try to feed them if they are nearby. This is not safe for the animals. If anything, you can take the food waste back and add them to your compost pile.
Keep Your Fire Safe
It is also extremely important to keep your fire safe and contained on your camping trip. The United States experiences so many wildfires each year, and many of them come from irresponsible people. Some campgrounds already have a fire pit at each site, so be sure to only build fires in those designated areas. If there is not a fire pit, you will need to build it in a safe spot. It should be away from flammable materials, like tents and plants, and you should encircle the fire with rocks. This prevents the fire from spreading, but you should still keep the fire small and manageable. It is also a great idea to take a multi-purpose fire extinguisher with you, just in case.
Before you leave the site, you need to fully extinguish the fire. Pour water over it and mix the coals to put out any remaining embers. The coals should be cool to the touch. Once they are cool, you can then leave the place unattended.
You should also keep in mind that different areas may have fire restrictions in place, which may prevent you from building a fire at all. In this event, you will want to prepare in advance. You can bring a camp stove to cook on or you can bring food that does not require cooking.
Avoid Chemicals in Your Soap and Toiletries
When cleaning your dishes and showering while camping, it is tempting to bring your regular soap and toiletries from home. However, this is not safe for the environment. Most of the cleaners at the store contain chemicals that can harm the plants and animals nearby. Cleaning also requires water, which means that you will be mixing those chemicals with the water. Instead of tainting the area, bring biodegradable cleaners. These kinds of soaps only contain natural ingredients, so they are safe to use on yourself and safe for the environment. You also should not clean yourself or your dishes directly in the water source. Instead, use a bucket to gather water or use some of the bulk water you brought with you. Once you use the water, dump it onto the ground.
Go to the Bathroom Responsibly
If your campground does not have any public restrooms, you will also need to know how to do your business responsibly. You will need to bring your own toilet paper to use and pick a spot at least 200 feet away from any campsites or water sources. Next, dig a hole at least six inches deep and do your business in there. Once you are done, cover up the waste with dirt and take the toilet paper with you back to camp. It would be beneficial to bring a bag with you to place the toilet paper after you use it. Just because toilet paper will one day biodegrade, you should not leave the toilet paper with your waste. The whole point is to make it seem like you were never there.
Leave No Trace on Your Camping Trip
Another way that people go green on their camping trip is following the leave no trace principles. This covers many of the items we have already discussed, but there is more to it. Other people refer to this kind of camping with the phrase, “leave only footprints, take only pictures.” This phrase helps us to remember that we should not leave any garbage or other items, and we should not take anything from the area. Some items carry invasive species that you do not want to take back home with you. You also do not want to take anything that will disrupt the local plants and wildlife. The leave no trace principles help us to minimize our impact on the environment and still enjoy the camping trip.
Going camping is a great way for many people to connect with nature and get away from the bustling city. It is a way that people recharge and enjoy the simple things in life. However, camping should also be an eco-friendly practice. We should still make the effort to take care of the environment, and the principles we have discussed will help you do that.