By Julia Austin, Planet Green
You might be a regular camper who escapes to the wild weekly. Maybe you just canít afford a vacation so a tent and a campfire make for the cheapest getaway. Maybe your friends dared you to spend just one night away from your comfortable, pampered lifestyle. Whatever your reason for camping, you donít owe any less to the nature youíre going to come in close contact with than the next guy. And itís trueócamping is about as eco-friendly as it gets when it comes to traveling. You and your gear are pretty much the only signs of civilization around. Here are some tips to keep it that way:
1. Buy each camper a BPA-free reusable water bottle or canteen. Find out ahead of time if there is a water source at your site. If not, bring a portable purification system. You can find one at most camping stores.
2. If youíre new to camping itís best to borrow camping gear. When you totally fall in love with your sleepover outdoors, consider getting your own equipment from a second hand store. Seasoned campers can donate your old gear to such a store.
3. Bring extra reusable bags to throw trash in. Even if there are bins around the site, they might be full and itís too tempting when youíre sitting around the campfire to just toss your trash to the side rather than venture to the bin a few yards away. Better to be prepared.
4. Check if there are campfire restrictions at your campsite. These are here for a reason. Your firewood could introduce a pest or disease into the area. If you burn coals, make sure there are no smoldering coals left over after your stay.
Click here for tips on how to start a fire.
5. Bring LED flashlights or lanterns. These require much less power than traditional flashlights and have a longer service life. Shake or wind-up flashlights require no batteries and can last up to 30 hours.
6. Instead of the usual paper or Styrofoam dishes, bring reusable supplies and wash them after the trip. This probably isnít the best time to break out the wedding china, but kids’ plastic plates or plastic reusable dishes will work.
7. The above tip gets counteracted if youíre using soap with toxic chemicals! Be sure to bring biodegradable soap and wash dishes away from water sources.
8. Use Citronella candles. Citronella is a tall grass with a lemony scent and its essential oils are used to repel insects. If you like the good old fashion spray, use organic insect repellent.
Click here for tips on how to beat insects naturally.
9. Bring dishtowels from home rather than paper towels. Make an old-school clothesline between two trees to hang the towels to dry.
10. Your favorite gourmet items might have to sit out this camping trip. To reduce packaging waste, grab your friend with a Costco card and buy food and other items in bulk. This means fewer plastic wrappers that can fly around than if you buy individual items.
11. Being a trailblazer in life is great. But donít do it on an actual trail. If youíre planning a hike during your camping trip, stay on the set path. Going off the beaten path can cause soil erosion and the stomping of native plants.
12. Leave your vanity at home. Particles from many makeup and beauty products can be toxic to the environment. Instead of a shower, just toss on some extra deodorant. If you absolutely must bathe in a natural body of water, donít bring in any soap or products.
When youíre camping, youíre a guest in the wild. You wouldnít trash a hotel room (well, maybe if youíre a rock star) and you shouldnít trash your campsite, especially because there is no room service to come clean up the mess. I hope these tips will help you leave your campsite like you found it, if not in better condition.