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Ask Outdoors: How Can I Plan a Zero-Waste Camping Trip?

Camping is an inexpensive and environmentally friendly way of traveling. In recent years, it has become even better for the planet thanks to the rising popularity of reusable water bottles, portable bonfires, and so much more. If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at a zero-waste camping trip, now is the time to dive in. Here are some tips.

Know Your Campsite

If you’re using an official campground, research it before leaving for your trip. You’ll want to know what each individual campground’s rules are surrounding waste management, composting, and recycling. Following these rules is an important way you can minimize your environmental impact while camping.

What to Pack

Once you’ve figured out what amenities your campground already has, it’s time to pack. We’ve provided tips for waste reduction in different areas of your campsite.

Camp Kitchen

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This is probably the most important part of packing for a zero-waste camping trip. Building a sustainable camp kitchen includes your favorite camping stove and cast-iron skillets, along with reusable serveware, like plates, bowls, forks, spoons, and mugs. Stay away from anything single-use, and invest in a set you can wash and reuse time and time again.

Don’t Forget – 

  • You’ll need some sort of reusable napkin, whether you use dish towels or cloth napkins, you’re going to want to wipe your hands and clean your face after a meal. 
  • Look for more sustainable options to fuel your fire from companies like Enviro-log.

Food and Water

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This is about to get complicated. It’s super easy to pack your favorite snack-sized items like chips and popcorn in plastic bags, but you must refrain (we believe in you). When it comes to packing food for a zero-waste trip, try packing fruits and vegetables and food that comes in bulk in reusable bags or other reusable containers.

Meal prep your food at home as much as you can. Bringing foods that just need to be reheated will mean less waste at the campsite. If there are foods that you need to bring that come in plastics from the store, remove the plastic before leaving and put the food into tupperware instead. 

Rather than buying single-use water bottles, bring your reusable water bottles and make sure they’re all filled. If you’re heading to an established campsite, there’s a good chance that they’ll have water-filling stations for refills. Bring a large reusable water jug to make sure you have enough.

Camp Shelter

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Tents are perfect reusable camping shelters. Bring a high-quality tarp to put under your tent to make sure you and all your gear inside the tent stay dry. Make sure your tent poles are sturdy in case it gets windy.

You’ll also want to pack blankets, pillows, and other sleeping gear, like an air mattress and sleeping pad to make the tent even more comfortable.

Camp Shower and Toiletries

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Towels are reusable, so you can easily check those off the list. But for a truly waste-free trip, buy some solid shampoo/conditioner bars and get a good biodegradable soap that isn’t harmful to the environment. 

Don’t Forget – 

  • Make sure you have your toothbrush and toothpaste—extra points if it’s a bamboo brush and chewable toothpaste tablet to ensure you’re not using plastic. If you’re looking for a biodegradable floss option, try bamboo floss or compostable flossers.
  • Ladies, if you’re going camping during that time of the month, bring along your favorite period underwear and/or diva cup for a zero-waste experience.
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