Camping is a great way for you to get out there and reconnect with nature. But you need to be careful to preserve the environment so that others can also enjoy it. That means following all the rules and guidance onsite and thinking about the impact globally offsite as well.
Some things might seem obvious to experienced campers, but as more and more newbies start heading out camping in the great outdoors we need to all make sure to act as responsibly as possible to help preserve the environment.
Leave Only Footprints…
The Leave No Trace Principles are a great guide to sustainable adventures in the backcountry. Remember: “take only photographs, leave only footprints”.
So make sure to bring garbage bags for packing out anything you bring with you. You need to dispose of any waste you take with you into the backcountry rather than littering. If you’re dispersed camping or wild camping (not camping on a campsite with facilities), unfortunately, that means packing out your toilet paper and hygiene products.
Be respectful of wildlife. Don’t feed wild animals or approach them, as you can alter an animal’s behavior with this interaction and leave them exposed to predators. If you are bringing your dog as well, make sure you can control them around wildlife you might come across.
This also means planning ahead and preparing, making sure you will be traveling and camping on durable surfaces and not disrupting the local environment
As part of your planning ahead, you should also research whether campfires are permitted in the area. Fires can be dangerous and prohibited by local authorities. If you are allowed to start a campfire, it’s important you do so safely.
Equipment and Gear: Dos and Don’ts
Camping gear can require a lot of plastics and synthetic materials that pollute the environment and don’t break down.
If you’re looking for gear for your first trip, consider borrowing a sleeping bag from a friend or renting a tent from an outdoors shop rather than purchasing new items for yourself.
And if you’re looking to upgrade or buy your own gear rather than borrowing some from friends, look for second-hand products. Often you can find good quality equipment for discounted prices.
Whatever you can do to limit the amount of camping and outdoor equipment that ends up clogging up landfills, the better.
Keeping Clean and Fresh
The more products you use, the greater an impact they can potentially have. Ditching the makeup for a weekend can help, but if you’d feel more comfortable taking some with you, as long as you follow the leave no trace principles (don’t leave your makeup wipes littering the wilderness!), bring whatever you need to feel happy and enjoy your trip!
Just be wary that none of the products you bring will pollute the local area. Hygiene products like soap or toothpaste that you have to bring camping should be biodegradable. Sunscreen is an essential product for protecting your skin – but it can be harmful to marine life by polluting lakes or rivers, impacting algae and coral.
Using UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) Sunwear rather than sunscreen can help reduce the amount you need to use.
Getting to Camp
One thing that campers might neglect thinking about when planning their trip is the impact their journey to the campsite can have.
Taking public transport, cycling or hiking to your campsite are all ways to make your trip more eco-friendly. Although this might not be possible for large families with lots of gear.
If you’re hiking to your campsite, remember to stick to existing trails and be careful not to trample vegetation or disrupt the local ecosystem.
Get Involved in Preservation
Eco-friendly camping can be about more than our actions when camping. You can volunteer to help maintain local trails or campsites you love.
Unfortunately, not everyone follows the leave no trace principles in the wilderness so volunteer litter picking groups are vital for reducing human impact on areas.
Even if you live in an urban area, city river cleanups can have huge benefits for the eco-systems the water travels through.
There are lots of things you can think about doing to try and reduce the impact of your trip and engage in some eco-friendly camping.
If you’re looking for more information about planning your camping trip, Model on a Mission has a number of tips for luxurious essentials to take on your camping trip.
James is an outdoor enthusiast who runs Wilderness Redefined, a blog dedicated to making the great outdoors accessible for all and promoting sustainable enjoyment to preserve the environment for generations to come. In his day-to-day job, he works as an economist at an institute in Glasgow, Scotland.