Plan the ultimate eco-friendly alfresco adventure this bank holiday weekend with our guide to sustainable camping.
You’re planning a camping trip, so we’re going to take a wild leap of faith here and assume that you like nature at least a little bit. And, as you most probably like nature, you’re assumedly going to be interested in making sure you protect and preserve the planet as much as possible during your trip away.
Well, the good news is that there are plenty of ways in which you can do this, and the even better news is that we’ve already done the hard work for you and created this handy sustainable camping guide, ready and waiting for your next foray into the great outdoors.
In recent years, the unenvironmental means by which most of us travel has come under increasing scrutiny. With notable eco-campaigners (like our all-time favourite Greta Thunberg) making the headlines for their efforts to ditch planes (as we write this Greta is actually in the midst of travelling across the Atlantic in a zero-carbon yacht sans kitchen, fridge or proper toilet) the time for committing to ‘conscious’ or ‘slow’ travel is now.
Although obviously not everyone has the time or resources to travel à la Greta, it’s definitely worth having a think about how you can cut down your transport emissions for the weekend. You could really embrace the natural theme and choose a camping location that you can walk or cycle to, or else look into public transport options for your trip. If you really can’t ditch the wheels, then try and carshare as much as possible to ensure that your emissions are kept to an all-time minimum.
Just in case you’ve never heard ‘Colours of the Wind’ from Disney’s Pocahontas, we’re going to take a moment here to fill you in on one of the key verses: ‘every rock and tree and creature, has a life, has a spirit, has a name’. Keep this line in mind next time you venture into the great outdoors, as you’re effectively walking into nature’s own living room and it’s up to you to act like a considerate guest and treat nature with the same respect you afford other human beings.
In a nutshell, this means don’t go pulling up any plants, dropping any litter or disturbing the local wildlife (yes, we are aware that Pocahontas also goes and cuddles a bear cub whilst singing, but if you’re not in a Disney movie then this really isn’t a good idea, trust us).
If you’re not a regular camper and don’t have the gear lying around, then you’ll probably experience a strong temptation to rush to the shops and stock up on brand new equipment quicker than you can say ‘camping trip’. But this really isn’t a good move for the planet, your wallet, nor your home storage space.
Instead, why don’t you ask around and see what you can borrow from your outdoorsy friends? A tent here, an air mattress there and a couple of sleeping bags to finish it off and you’re pretty much sorted. Much better than buying new and expensive gear that you might never use again. Because, let’s be honest, spending a weekend in a tarpaulin triangle in the middle of the wilderness isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
If you do really need to buy a few things, then invest in sustainably-made, durable products from responsible brands such as Patagonia, rather than cheap and short-lived alternatives. Another thing it’s well worth splashing out for is an eco-friendly camping stove. Traditional camping stoves use gas, liquid petrol or methanol as fuel – none of which are particularly good for the environment. Instead, go back to basics with a simple wood burning stove (Biolite have actually made one that recharges your phone too, so perhaps not so basic afterall) or else get flashy with a solar powered oven(potentially a bit of a risky option if you’re a British-based camper though).
Food & Drink
Here, forward planning is essential. There are some pretty head-scratchingly-silly stats surrounding the prolific food waste problem we have across the planet (e.g. the fact that roughly one third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted every year) and, as much as we all love sizzling sausages and roasting marshmallows (read ‘burning’ for both), our culinary exploits on the campfire shouldn’t come at the cost of food waste.
There are plenty of things we can do to minimise the risk of food waste: thinking about it carefully and bringing exactly what you need, making sure you pack plenty of food storage containers (hello there, Tupperware), ensuring that your cool box is working properly and has space for all the perishable products etc. In fact, you could even consider going fully plant-based for the weekend and not have to worry about the fact that the sausages are burnt on the outside and raw on the inside or that the milk is slowly but surely going off.
Leave no trace
Although avoiding plastic packaging altogether is really the best option, we understand that this is pretty difficult in the packaging-obsessed world we live in. However, this is absolutely no excuse for leaving any rubbish behind when you head back home. Nor is camping an excuse to stop recycling: either bring a few separate bags or containers and sort and separate your waste as you go, or pop it all in one bag together and unpack and sort it out when you’re back home.