Even though Summer is winding down and Fall is just around the corner, if you are anything like the people we know, you are realizing you have to get all your camping in within the next month or so. It seems every year we promise to get out into the great outdoors, but with summer schedules filled with vacations, weddings, bbqs, and days at the beach, before we realize it, summer is almost over. If you are a camping procrastinator or are lucky enough to live somewhere where you can enjoy the outdoors all year round, we have a couple of eco tips in store to use.
The old adage, “leave only footprints” is actually a beautiful way to look at camping. Most people, unfortunately not all, already respect this rule and do not leave their trash littered around the woods. In case you already follow the golden rule of the outdoors and are looking for more ways to go green, we have put together some more helpful tips on keeping your camping trips as green as the leaves of the trees.
1) Getting There: Traditionally camping requires a car, packed full of kids and gear. But there are much more ecological and economical ways of camping. If you are a bicycle enthusiast, you can bike to your destination. There are a number of safe places and trails to ride around the country. Check out this handy guide aptly titled Bike Camping 101 for advice. If biking is not your thing, consider catching a ride on public transportation and backpacking to your destination or better yet, join a bus tour. Green Tortoise is a great place to start, as they over bus tours all over the USA from Yosemite to Alaska. If you really must travel by car, try and carpool with your party to cut down on the carbon output.
2) Green Gear: Possibly the greenest option for camping gear is to re-use pre owned gear from tents to tarps. You can find many pre-used camping items on both craigslist and eBay, as in your local thrift store. If you want to go down the brand new route, there are plenty of great options for eco made gear. We recommend the Sierra 2 by Big Agnes which is made from 100% recycled materials right down to the zippers and plastic hooks. There are also some great upcycled sleeping bags and 100% organic cotton backpacks.
3) Eco Fire Tips: When deciding to build a fire, seek out a fire pit or area already designated for burning. It is also a good idea to only burn wood that is already dead, twigs that line the ground, and fallen pine cones. Do not chop down any wood. Another great tip is to not burn man made materials such as plastics or food wrappers that contain petroleum, such as chip bags. This will cut down on the pollution you emit in outdoors.
4) Cooking: Although camping stoves are easy to pack and use, they often use propane and other natural gases. The most eco friendly way to make dinner is over your fire. Since you are already burning the forest fuel, why not use it? We like to cook veggie kabobs or veggie dogs on our campfires. If you find cooking over open flame a tad difficult or intimidating, try out the Sierra Stove, which can be fueled by anything from twigs to pine cones. Another great tip is to leave the packaged food at home and prepare your meals ahead of time.
5) Cleaning Up: Depending on how long you are out and about, you may feel the need to wash your body and or your dishes. It may seem like common sense but be sure not to use soaps or shampoo in rivers, streams, or lakes. Such products can pollute the water, thus hurting wildlife and disrupting the eco-system. Instead try using sanitizer and leave in shampoo. When washing the dishes, only rinse with water, rather than soap. One last tip, be careful where you spit your toothpaste! Either bring your own container or use it to put out the fire!