6 Tips for Eco-Friendly Camping
BY RACHEL CAVANAUGH
1. Prep and pack your food responsibly
Additionally, think about how the food you select is packaged. Dehydrated meals and other backcountry-specific foods tend to be made with single-use plastics and other environmentally damaging materials. So be smart about how you pack the food in your cooler or dry box—instead of using disposable products like foil or plastic wrap, choose options like beeswax wraps, which have lighter ecological footprints.
2. Bring reusable water bottles to avoid plastic
Additionally, consider your overall water use when you go camping. Hydration is important, so don’t skimp on drinking water, but you can do things like stay in the shade during the hottest part of the day or minimize high-energy activities to reduce how much you need to drink.
3. Adopt environmentally friendly dishwashing practices
If you’re washing dishes that have been in contact with raw meats, have a third bucket on hand for disinfecting too. But skip the harsh bleach and select an environmentally friendly alternative instead. For dish soap, choose something like Dr. Bronner’s, Campsuds, or another biodegradable soap. Finally, dry your dishes with a cloth or place them on a rack instead of using paper towels.
4. Fill growlers for canned and bottled beverages
If you like soft drinks, invest in a soda carbonator. This simple device offers a way to have fizzy beverages without the container waste. Plus, you get to experiment with new flavors and recipes. Try out new flavored seltzer waters or make unique cocktails. For a soda alternative, a camping trip is a great time to make homemade juices—or bring a bag of oranges and squeeze your juice on the spot.
5. Cook meals mindfully and compost
Before you begin cooking, think about ways to conserve water. Don’t plan meals that require large volumes of boiled water. And set aside any cooking water you do use to wash dirty dishes after your meal.
Compost your food scraps too, and remember that proper composting doesn’t mean tossing your banana peel in the forest. (Banana peels, in fact, can take up to two years to decompose.) Bring a bucket with a tight lid to store your compost in, and keep it in your car at night to detract wildlife. If you’ll be in the woods for a longer period of time and packing out your compost is not feasible, bury it at least a foot deep and 300 feet from campsites or bodies of water.
6. Clean up after yourself properly
Be sure to have a system in place to collect trash and ensure that you don’t leave any garbage behind. Walk the perimeter of your campsite, picking up anything that may have been left behind either by your party or the people who came before you. (The goal should always be to leave the space cleaner than you found it.) And don’t forget to collect micro-trash such as cigarette butts, candy wrappers, bits of toilet paper, and other small items to keep nesting and foraging safe for forest critters.