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Green camping: 8 easy ways to ensure you leave no trace on the environment

Green camping is another way to conserve and respect the environment, provided you travel light.

Though camping can be about the feeling of freedom, connection with nature and the promise of a long, peaceful getaway from it all, its dark side is the litter and debris of the thoughtless and the resultant destruction of vegetation, soil and animals.

So, observe the following sustainable camping tips and practice them to ensure a better camping experience, for you and for the environment you leave behind.

Green camping tip 1: Take all your rubbish with you when you leave

  • If there is no bin, bring a biodegradable bin liner with you and keep the trash in the boot of your car. We always carry a spare bin bag to use as a liner in the boot (in case of leakage!)
  • For more about garbage and how long it takes to biodegrade visit this interesting fact sheet
  • Even better yet, eat raw ingredients or learn how to forage for food. That way, you'll have no packaging and thus no litter.

Green camping tip 2: Make a safe campfire

  • If you choose to build a fire, make sure to use only established circles
  • Use local wood (preferably driftwood) to make a campfire as foreign wood can contain toxic chemicals or foreign insects. Look for dead branches and twigs and don’t cut down living trees!
  • Don't burn plastic, metals or wood that has been treated with chemicals.
  • Once finished cooking, make sure you extinguish the fire with (used) water before going to sleep.
  • Even better (for your health and that of the environment), buy a solar-powered cooker.
  • Another alternative, is to avoid cooking at all and eat fresh or local produce (if you can find any).

Green camping tip 3: Reuse dishes and cutlery

  • Avoid disposables at all costs! Each person needs only one bowl, one plate, one cup and one set of cutlery.

Green camping tip 4: Minimise use of water

  • Try to wash your dishes only once a day.
  • Shower as infrequently as possible.
  • Reuse water whenever you can (dirty dishwater can be used to extinguish your fire, for example).

Green camping tip 5: Avoid chemicals and detergents

  • Using eco-friendly and biodegradable soaps and toiletries ensures that no harsh chemicals penetrate the soil when you throw out used water.
  • Use citronella candles and organic insect repellants instead of chemical repellants.

Green camping tip 6: Toilet matters

  • If there's no bathroom, find a secluded place far from your water source. Dig a hole around 6 inches deep and keep toilet paper to be disposed off separately.

Green camping tip 7: Conserve the environment

  • Keep to designated campsites and trails, which helps protect native wildlife and reduce erosion
  • Don't collect rocks, plants and other natural objects you find as this disrups the natural eco-system
  • Do not feed the animals. Though the animals might be cute or look hungy, feeding animals teaches them to rely on people instead of their natural instincts. This disturbs the natural order, makes them vulnerable to predators and anything manmade is a non-optimal diet (cooked meat does not exist in nature!).

Green camping tip 8: Keep it simple (reduce and re-use)

  • No matter how eco-friendly camping equipment is, anything newly bought can't compete with something that has previously been manufactured.
  • Minimise your use of electronics (try leaving your phone and laptop at home).
  • Use common sense, if you already have battery-operated gear that you use once or twice year, it doesn't make sense to replace it!
  • If you camp regularly, try and gradually replace your gear with solar or renewable energy powered devices.
  • Use LED lights, which last longer and burn brighter

Eco-friendly camping is simply part of your commitment to living in an ecologically friendly way. If you keep these tips in mind, you'll help ensure we have wonderful, clean and thriving campgrounds for years to come.

Do check out the article on how to pack light, to further ensure your camping experience is as light on the environment as your baggage is on you!

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Hi, my name is Melissa and I created this site together with photographer Christopher List to help spread awareness about green lifestyles and travel, so everyone can learn how easy it is to live in a sustainable way. Enjoy!

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