I am a little late for my post this week because we just finished the Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada, which marks the unofficial start of summer. For Americans, Memorial Day is coming up next Monday, which is also about looking forward to warmer days ahead. For many people, summer means camping.
Getting out in the great outdoors is a good way to get in touch with your green side, as you explore the wild places that you want to protect. But how green is camping, really? I have some tips to make sure your trip into nature doesn't end up harming the very habitats you're enjoying.
Green Camping Tips
- Opt for used camping equipment, or borrow from friends and family. Buying a whole bunch of new stuff means your camping trip has a high carbon footprint. This is even more true if you don't go camping all that often. Buy borrowing or buying used you're not only reducing the environmental impact of your gear, you're saving money.
- Reusables, reusables, reusables. It can be tempting to buy a bunch of disposable dishes to take camping with you, but that's obviously not your greenest option. Sturdy reusables, like stainless steel cutlery and dishes, will keep your trip as green as possible. And make sure that any waste you do create is disposed of properly ... or carted home with you.
- Go minimal on the gadgets, and think solar-powered and hand-cranked. Don't use a lot of unnecessary gadgets that require electricity or gas to run. Camping is a time to unplug! For those things you really do need, like a cell phone and a flashlight, try to track down a solar-powered or hand-cranked option.
- Stay on the trail. Whether you're out enjoying a hike, or choosing where to camp, stick to established trails and sites. When you veer off-track you can disturb sensitive ecosystems and cause damage to plant and animal habitats. If you're a hard-core camper who likes back-country destinations, look for firm, clear ground to set up your tent on.
- Avoid the toxic toiletries. This is a good idea anytime, but it's even more important when your'e out in nature. Look for biodegradable, non-toxic soaps and shampoos so that you're not filling pristine environments with petrochemicals like phthalates and artificial colours. For bug repellents, try to go light or steer clear of DEET. And while sunscreen is important, your first line of defense should be covering up.
How do you green your camping trip?