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Elizabeth R Aug 16th, 2018

Zero Waste Camping

bamboo forest

You may have noticed an increase in canvas bags lately. You see them more places, more often. They are being used as produce bags, while typically the grocery store still gives you plastic ones. There is a movement called Zero Waste, that is quickly gaining momentum in North America and Europe. Canvas bags are gaining popularity because Zero Waste isn’t just environmentally friendly, it’s trendy, and often cheaper than the alternative.

Bags are just the beginning of what you can do to help reduce waste that you produce. The “Five R’s” are the basic guidelines for Zero Waste:

Rot
Reduce
Reuse
Recycle
Repurpose

You should be thinking about these in every aspect of your camping trip. Opting for products in your everyday life that are made out of biodegradable or recyclable material is a goal as well. That way, you create higher demand for alternatives to plastic and you won’t be personally responsible for extra waste. For instance, plastic silverware can be replaced with bamboo utensils. They come in travel pouches for your bag, and have everything you need, sometimes including chopsticks and a metal or bamboo straw.

When it comes to camping, whether trailblazing off the beaten track or setting up camp at a festival, there are ways to reduce your impact on the area around you by taking some time and effort to ensure you leave zero waste. Here are a few tips and pointers.

 

Choose and reuse the right gear

 

Choose a brand that’s reliable and has good reviews. You want your kit to stand the test of time to avoid broken or worn out tents, bags, and other gear going to a disposal site sooner than later. You might want to think about using brands like Reliable Tent and Tipi which may mean spending a bit more money but will ensure your equipment has durability to ultimately provide a benefit to the environment. Other brands have begun to think about their environmental footprint as well by using recycled synthetic fibers. Brands such as Columbia and Big Agnes where you can find a variety of different items. When your kit does start to show signs of wear, opt for repairing it rather than replacing it or pass it to someone else who is willing to give it the tender loving care it needs.

 

Be vigilant with your consumables

 

When it comes to food, the waste produced is unfortunately the most familiar. From soda cans to plastics to paper napkins, we see this type of garbage everywhere and it is not uncommon for it to be left behind on a campsite.  Avoid having to deal with this type of garbage by using bamboo or metal utensils from your kitchen.  Use camelback or reusable water bottles as opposed to throw-away plastic ones. Buy food in bulk and pack it in resealable bags that you can wash and reuse later. There are lightweight, durable food storage options available for purchase online and at your local gear shop. From silicone watertight baggies to burlap sacks and nearly everything in between, a simple “reusable sandwich bags” Google query will offer you a variety of options.

Compost

Before heading out on your camping adventure, prep as much of your food as possible. If you must prepare food on your trip, bring a reusable, airtight container or bag to store the waste in until you return home.

 

Cleaning up

 

Use cloth towels instead of paper towels.  Remember to use biodegradable soaps. Ensure that when you tear down camp you leave nothing behind – no trace!

A conscientious camper will ensure that they take the time and effort to reduce waste, remembering the 5 R’s, and will leave no trace as they move on to their next adventure. 

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