With a little extra planning, you can help minimise your waste, protect the local flora and fauna, and lower your impact during your next camping adventure.
1) Explore your backyard
Start by choosing a camping spot closer to home. Cars are responsible for a large percentage of our greenhouse gas emissions, so a close campsite will help reduce your carbon footprint. It also means you'll spend less time in the car, more time outside — ideal if you want to make a quick getaway after work on Friday afternoon.
If you're not sure where to look, find your national park authority online. Think outside the box and search for land-sharing sites that allow you to camp on private land.
2) Go to a local market instead of a supermarket
The pre-camp-shop can often include lot of packaging like cans, sachets and plastic wrap. Instead, make a list of simple recipes, grab a reusable shopping bag, and head to a local farmers markets. These markets use less packaging on fresh produce, often come from local farms, and can save you a bit of coin too.
Stock up on fruit and veg that you can prepare at home and can survive the journey: think root vegetables like sweet potatoes or hardy fruit like oranges.
Besides being more environmentally-friendly, less packaging means less rubbish for you to deal with later on.
3) Invest in reusable items
Plastic plates and utensils can be hard to recycle. In fact, most of those forks and spoons are too small to be collected in a recycling sorting machine. Instead:
Bring crockery and utensils from home. Bear in mind you’ll need a tub, scrubber and a little extra water to clean the dishes.
Opt for tupperware containers instead of plastic wrap and foil.
Instead of a buying a 10L plastic bottle of water that will need to be thrown out, buy a reusable drink dispenser and fill up at home.
If weight is a consideration, look for collapsible bowls and mugs, all-in-one cutlery and investigate reusable beeswax wraps and snack packs. You can even experiment with dehydrating your own food.
4) Organise your waste stations
At a minimum, you should have two bins. One for landfill, the other for recycling. If you're camping with kids or a large group, it's a good idea to make a point of difference between the two.
For example, place your recyclables in a box, and anything for landfill in a bag. This avoids cross contamination and makes it easier to empty into your bins at home. Don't forget to place any food scraps out of reach from any native wildlife!
5)Take everything with you
Even if there’s rubbish bins at your campsite, it’s a good habit to take your rubbish home. Animals can get into the bins and make a mess, but they can also become reliant on the bins as a food source.
If you want to be a real champion, pick up any rubbish that others have left behind.
6) Use an environmentally-friendly, biodegradable soap
Normal dish detergent can harm the environment so it's best to bring biodegradable camping soap. An all-in-one unscented castile soap will wash your hair, body, clothes and dishes, so it’s a great option to keep things simple. Natural cleaning remedies like baking soda and lemon are another alternative.
With biodegradable soap, it’s best to bury the lot in a hole: it’ll help break down the soap faster.
7) Keep it out of the streams
Enjoy a swim, but don't shampoo or dump your soapy dishwasher in any water source. As noted above, even biodegradable soap needs a hand to decompose properly. Detergents, sunscreens and soap can cause significant harm to river eco-systems over time.
A better option is to use a portable camping shower to wash away from water sources, and don’t pour your dirty dishwater into creeks or rivers.
8) Be responsible with your camping fire
Camp fires are an essential part of the experience for some. To keep it green as it can be:
- Don't make your fire bigger than you need it. Better yet, learn how to layer for the outdoors.
- Limit the amount of kindling you forage from the local area, or better still, bring your own.
- If it's available, use a campsite BBQ as much as you can
- Don't burn anything in the fire, other than the occasional marshmallow
- Only light a fire in the designated area
- Extinguish your ashes properly before you go to bed and before you leave the site
Always check for warning and fire restrictions in your area before you head off. Never light a fire when restrictions are in place.
9) Go solar
Leave your noisy generator at home and opt for solar accessories for the bare necessities.
A headtorch is a must when you're camping, but solar-charged lantern is a good bet for shared spaces or your tent.
It's never a bad idea to have a fully-charged mobile phone in case of emergencies. If you're camping for a few days or more, consider taking a Goal Zero Nomad that can recharge your devices.
10) Bring a trowel, dig a hole
These days many campsites have amenities including compostable toilets. But if you find yourself in the middle of nowhere when nature calls, you'll need these three things: toilet paper, a paper bag and a trowel.
Dig a cat hole with the trowel, do what you need to do, and cover it up so it breaks down as quickly as possible. Place your toilet paper in the paper bag for disposal later on. While some people bury their TP, it is best practice to take it with you to truly leave no trace.
11) Stay on the trail
National parks are dedicated to the preservation of some of our most precious ecosystems. We're lucky to have camping sites surrounded by incredible scenery and trails that allow us to experience nature in all its glory.
But when you stray of the trail, you risk crushing plants, disrupting the local wildlife and contributing to soil erosion in the area. Keep yourself and the environment safe by sticking to the path.
12) Leave what you find
This is an easy one. Leave the surrounding area as pristine as possible and don't bring any keepsakes home with you including stones, sticks and plantlife.
Get prepared for your next camping trip with our range of camping gear.