Camping and hiking are fantastic ways to adventure into and experience nature. Doing so in the summer lets us see plants and animals that don’t stick around in the winter. Although, sometimes we get so excited, we forget to plan accordingly and sustainably. It’s important to do this so that we can ensure nature remains if we want to keep exploring! Before you go out, take a look at these tips and tricks for camping in an environmentally friendly way.
1. Borrow gear and go reusable: To begin your trip, do what you can to buy used gear or borrow from friends. Not only will this save you money, but it's also very eco-friendly. There's no need to invest in expensive equipment if you won't use it regularly. Reusable napkins, dishware, and silverware are essential, as is earth-friendly soap to wash them. Lastly, don't forget to pack all your food in a reusable container so that you aren't producing waste once you've eaten.
2. Use non-toxic: No one likes to sport a sunburn or endure thick clouds of bugs, so you'll likely be bringing sunscreen and bug spray. When you do, keep in mind the flora and fauna around you that don't need that protection- bring non-toxic! Not only will the air, greenery, and animal life thank you for caring, but you'll also save yourself from breathing in harsh chemicals.
3. Pack it in, pack it out: Bring something to bring all of your waste in, or pack so that you don't generate waste. Cook with a portable stove so that you keep from impacting the ground with ash and burns from a fire. Campfires leave evidence of humans having been there and remember, you're the guest. If you do build a campfire, utilize the wood found on the ground or on your site- don't bring wood in to prevent the spread of invasive species.
4. Stay on the trail: Hiking is a great way to experience the naturally formed infrastructure around us, but remember we are visitors. Stay on the trail as you explore to prevent erosion and disruption of habitats of those who live there, plants and animals alike. Refrain from picking flowers and leave the rocks and logs alone.
5. Sleep sustainably: In your search of the perfect spot to lay your camp, keep in mind the softness of the ground. The softer it is, the more likely you are to provoke erosion in that area. This means going for gravel, solidly packed dirt, or even a slab of rock. Choose a spot that is designated for camping by the forest or park you're in- there's no need to make a new campsite if one already exits. By being conscious of where you sleep, you'll minimize your footprint as well as any damage to the area.
6. Skip the gadgets: For your own enjoyment and to fully experience what's out there, keep your gadgets at home. Watch the stars and listen to the sounds at night instead of bringing a laptop or portable dvd player. Bring a map instead of a cell phone or use your cell phone sparingly to keep from staring at a screen. Do all that you can to fully immerse yourself in the experience and joys of camping!