10 Ways To Be A Conscious Camper
Camping is a popular summer pastime, and for good reason! It’s a fun way to spend a few days off the grid, immersed in nature. There are many different types of places to camp, from forests to beaches to deserts. Each one has their own special quirks and fun activities. So whether you’re soaking up the sea breeze or enjoying a quiet, dank forest, here are 10 ways to be a conscious camper this summer.
Show up prepared to clean up
Not everyone who camps does so in the best interest of the environment, and other campers, in mind. It’s not uncommon to arrive at a campsite only to see very clear signs that someone was there before you. It’s advisable to bring additional trash bags with you when camping to pick up what people before you may have forgotten to pack out. Cleaning up nature is a great way to leave the world a better place than you found it!
Learn to build a ‘minimum impact’ fire
Before you build a fire, there are a few things you should take into consideration. Good questions to ask are:
“How likely am I to lose control of the fire?”
“What is the fire danger today?”
“Do I actually need a fire?”
If you’ve assessed that it’s safe and you definitely want a campfire, there are ways you can reduce the impact on the environment.
It is advisable that you always use existing fire rings. Many campsites have these fire rings in place already. If there isn’t a ring, you have the option of building one or building a mound fire. This one-minute video is a great tutorial on building mound fires.
Choose eco-friendly soaps
Even when you’re camping, disease can be spread through improper hygiene. It’s acceptable to bring soap to a campsite, but not all soaps are equally good for the environment. Consider purchasing a biodegradable soap as well as eco-friendly biodegradable toothpaste. Dr. Bronner’s is a popular brand of biodegradable soap, but don’t hesitate to shop for other sources. You can also learn to make your own with this handy tutorial video:
Camping is a lot of fun. In large groups of friends, things can get rowdy and loud. When camping, take into consideration neighboring campers as well as the wildlife that lives where you’re camping. Consider this: you wouldn't want a pack of wolves howling in your backyard at midnight just for fun, would you?
Stay on the trail
Walking through nature may seem like a pretty low-impact activity overall, but be sure you stay on designated hiking trails. These trails are designed to get you safely from point A to point B and reduce damage to the environment. Going off trail can damage fragile ecosystems and reduce the effectiveness of conservation efforts.
Keep pets under control
Bringing your pets camping with you is a great bonding experience, and they have a lot of fun exploring different places with you! That said, your pets can have an adverse impact on the environment and, if unleashed, can bother other campers. Keep your pets leashed and always be sure you’re cleaning up their waste. Various diseases can be found in dog droppings, including hookworms, parvo, giardiasis, and salmonellosis, all of which can be harmful to wildlife.
Choose non-toxic bug spray
Deterring insects from biting and bothering you can be a big part of camping, depending on where in the world you’ve decided to go. That being said, it’s important to consider that just like bears, deer, and other animals, insects call campsites home too. We don’t want to harm them, just deter them. Unfortunately, many bug sprays contain harmful chemicals, not just to your body, but to the environment as well. Consider seeking out non-toxic ways to deter pesky insects! Here's a great recipe for a homemade essential oil bug spray.
Reduce your waste
We all know the importance of packing in and packing out but wind and curious, hungry animals can spread our waste around and be harmed by our trash too. The best way to prevent trash from accidentally getting away from our camp sites is to simply reduce the amount of waste you pack in to begin with. Do your best to avoid excess packaging and single-use plastics.
Know where to ‘go’
Everybody poops. That doesn’t stop being true just because you’ve gone camping! But like dog droppings, human waste also carries various diseases, so knowing where to go is important! If there are no facilities available, choose a spot at least 200 feet from the closest campsite, dig a hole at least 6 inches deep, and bury it when you’re done. Toilet paper is not designed to break down properly in a campsite setting, so like the rest of your trash, it is best to pack toilet paper out. Seal it in a bag until a proper waste receptacle can be found.
Leave no trace
When your camping experience is over, it should look as good, if not better than you found it. If you brought something with you, be sure it’s leaving with you. All fires should be put out, and definitely consider walking through the campsite a few times before you depart to make sure you aren’t leaving anything behind. Want some extra credit? Visit a few other empty campsites to make sure no trash is left behind!