Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints: Eco-Friendly Camping

by Lauren Verini

With the temperatures starting to rise, it’s natural that people want to spend more time outdoors after being cramped up inside all winter long. One fun way to do that is by planning a camping trip with friends and family. Camping is an inexpensive but fun way to spend time with loved ones while also enjoying the great outdoors. Plus, it’s an eco-friendly alternative to more expensive vacation options that may include traveling long distances by plane or car.

Camping, however, is definitely not for everyone, especially people who don’t like bugs, sleeping outdoors or being without internet. For those who don’t like to “rough it” in the woods, a new trend has emerged called “glamping”, which stands for glamorous camping. Glamping is a way for people to enjoy the outdoors with the luxury of modern day technology, sleeping in a bed and having running showers and a bathroom.

For those who prefer to rough it the good old fashion way with a tent and sleeping bag, here are some simple tips to help you have a successful, safe and eco-friendly camping trip.

– Borrow or rent gear if possible. Especially for beginners, there is no real reason to invest in expensive camping gear if you aren’t sure you will go again. It’s wasteful to buy excessive supplies only to let them sit in your basement. See if a friend can lend you gear that you will need like a tent, sleeping bags, backpacks, a portable grill, etc. You can also buy used gear at a lower cost on Craigslist or places like FreeCycle. Also, be on the look out for sales at outdoor stores like REI.

– Camp close to home. Who says you need to go far from home to have a good time? Camping closer to home reduces travel time as well as your carbon footprint. There are thousands of campsites all across the U.S., find one that’s closest to you online at FreeCampsites.net, GoCampingAmerica.com or ReserveAmerica.com.

– Leave your campsite how you found it. Remove all trash from the campground and if there are no trashcans, pack it up and bring it with you to dispose of when you can.

– Stay on marked trails and don’t disturb the area. Marked trails are there for a reason. Staying from those trails can leave frail eco-systems vulnerable to damage that can take years to repair.

– Bring reusable utensils and plates. While disposable plates and utensils may seem like the more convenient option to bring along when camping, the excessive use of these products can be wasteful. Plus, you have to carry your trash with you anyways so it can end up being more of a hassle. Bring just enough reusable plates and utensils that are needed for lighter and more eco-friendly travel.

– Bring non-toxic, biodegradable soap. Depending on the campsite where you are staying, you may or may not have running water and/or a shower. This means you may have to shower as well as was dishes outdoors. Don’t expose the environment to harmful soaps that contain chemicals, instead bring with you non-toxic and biodegradable soap. Some good options to consider are Campsuds Nalgene for all-purpose cleaning and Dr. Bronner’s Biodegradable Soap.

– Don’t forget the bug spray! For us city-dwelling people, it’s easy to forget how annoying bugs like mosquitos can really be. It only takes one night in the woods on a camping trip to help refresh your memory! Opt for an all-natural bug repellent like California Baby’s Natural Bug Blend™ Bug Repellent or Honest Bug Spray.

– Be careful when building a campfire. What’s camping without a campfire to cozy up to at night to make s’mores? Campfires should be constructed carefully however. Always use a campfire that’s already been built instead of building a new one. If you must build a new campfire, make sure to build it away from dry grass or overhanging branches. Also, don’t cut down live trees to use for the campfire, instead use branches that are already on the ground or bring your own.

If you keep these basic principles in mind, you should have a great trip while minimally effecting the environment and minimizing your carbon footprint as much as possible.

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