I’ve been camping since I can remember, I believe my first camping trip was when I was 3 or 4. As a family, we could never afford lavish vacations or even fly anywhere so camping was every year’s family trip. I’ve camped all over the west coast and still, those vacations, remain some of my favorite and most cherished childhood memories. Now, as a mom, I get to take the Boy-O on camping adventures and begin those memories for him. For it was spending so much time in state and national parks that sparked the love I have for the Earth.
If you are like millions of families who are heading out on a family camping trip sometime this summer, be sure to keep these tips in mind to keep your impact on your surroundings as low as possible. I’m here to tell you – it is possible to have a fun camping trip while still respecting the environment and leaving no trace behind! Spending time outdoors camping is a great way to see all the beauty that nature holds. Unfortunately with the convenience of disposable products, many people leave their mark on the places they’ve visited, and not in a positive way. Camping doesn’t have to wreak havoc on the beautiful outdoors, in fact you can be an Eco-friendly camper with just a little bit of preparation.
Zero waste is not a “thing” you achieve as much as it’s a mindset you continue to grow.
Buy it for life… or at least a very long time.
- Bring reusable water bottles and refill from a safe water source if there is one, or a larger container of drinking water.
- Toss those disposables for good in favor of reusable plates, bowls and silverware. Many stores sell non-breakable dinnerware at cheap prices that are a perfect addition to your camping box. You can even take it up a notch with cloth napkins and towels.
- Reduce one use plastics by buying food in bulk or larger packages instead of individual packages.
- Bring reusable containers for leftovers to reduce food waste.
- Embrace solar equipment.
Buy your camp gear second hand
- Look for gear at yard sales and thrift stores.
- De-clutter your kitchen to find necessary camping items. (I had a few duplicates in my kitchen that I put in my camping supplies. )
- Borrow gear from friends or family. Most cases, family camping gear is used once or twice a year and chances are it’s just hanging out in the garage the rest of the year.
- Some retailers like REI even do equipment rentals.
- If you do plan to buy, buy quality. Don’t waste your money on cheap versions that will break easily.
Here are a few brands I trust*:
*Not a paid endorsement, I actually trust and buy these brands.
- Try to avoid cooking in foil as it quite difficult to recycle.
- Use cast iron skillets or a dutch oven over the campfire instead. We love LODGE! (no, we do not get paid to say this… I just really, really like them) Plus their website has some great recipes
- Wash dishes with bio-degradable soaps
- Bring your cleaning supplies from home. (You all know I brought my Norwex!)
- Bring your vinegar, baking soda and essential oils.
- Bring your Envirocloths, kitchen cloths and kitchen towels. (Now, I do get commission from Norwex products unlike everything else that is linked in this article)
- I bring a pot scrubber and a bamboo brush for dishes.
- I also bring a body cloth for each family member, especially the boys, for quick clean up before Pjs and bed time. Plus they are fantastic at getting marshmallow goo off of hands, arms, faces and out of hair!
- We also bring the sports towel because it’s so quick drying
Most ice comes in plastic bags so you can do a few things ahead of time to reduce your bagged ice consumption.
- Fill up water bottles with tap water and freeze to use as ice packs. Once the ice melts, you have water to drink.
- If there is any food you can freeze ahead of time, that also works.
- You can also take large containers to gas stations and pay for just ice out of the soda machine.
- Bottom line, just make sure your food is properly cooled to avoid any potential spoilage.
Set up camp with intention
- Set up camp in designated camping spots only.
- Don’t attempt to alter the campsite by clearing brush or to build something.
- Build fires in established pits or grates
- Enjoy the wildlife but don’t interfere.
- Keep all food properly stored so animals
- Stick to eco-friendly soaps. Biodegradable soaps are much healthier for you as well as the earth and what grows upon it.
Pack it out!
- Pack out all garbage, including food scraps.
- Take all recyclables home with you (unless the camp site has a recycling station).
- Bury any spilled food or human/pet waste.
Leave no trace!
- When you leave, the campsite should look exactly like it did when you arrived. No exceptions!
I’ll leave you with a silly photo of my Boy-O when he was about 6… He still makes this face when he’s trying to look wierd. haha.