Camp Green: How To Experience Nature Without Affecting It
One of Canada’s favourite past times is camping. Spending the night under the stars without the Internet, video games, or television to distract you and reconnecting with the wilderness can be appealing in our fast-paced, high-tech lives. But when we try to get away from it all, sometimes we can’t help but bring some of our lives along with us – plastic-wrapped food, disposable cutlery, fuel containers, and other supplies can poison the environment with their use and left over waste. Here’s how you can keep your camping trip from turning into an environmental disaster.
What to Take
Accommodations: RVs may make your camping trip more convenient, but they leave a large eco-footprint, and it’s hard to call staying in a house with wheels “experiencing nature”. Using a tent is a much better option, both for the environment and for the experience.
Bugs: Many bug sprays are bad for you and the environment, and for you as well. DEET has also been linked to neurological disorders in children, such as seizures, and can be toxic when mixed with sunscreen. You may want to consider using a natural option, such as oil of lemon eucalyptus (not recommended for children under 3), or products made with soybean oil. You should also bring a long-sleeved shirt and pair of pants to help keep the bugs off.
Electronics: Use electronics that can be powered with a hand crank (radios and flashlights are the most common items), which can be found at most stores that sell electronics or camping equipment. You should also replace the disposable batteries you have with rechargeable ones. Stay as low-tech as possible, but make sure you bring a cell phone or satellite phone in case of an emergency.
Fire: Make sure any fire you build is small and contained in a pit.
Food: Don’t bring disposable dishes and cutlery; instead, bring dishes that you can wash, or even better, foods that you don’t need a lot utensils or plates to prepare and serve. You can also pre-prepare meals and freeze them to serve later and buy food in bulk instead of individually-packaged meals. And if you’re making s’mores, don’t strip branches from a living tree. There will be many suitable branches on the ground, or you could purchase metal roasting sticks from your favourite camping supplies store.
Washing: Camping is called “roughing it” for a reason. Leave your salon products at home, and wash only the essential areas with non-toxic, biodegradable, phosphate-free soap. Deodorant will be your best friend on a short camping trip.
Waste: Bring separate garbage bags and sort your garbage between what you can recycle and what you can’t. Don’t leave anything behind, including scraps of food or items labelled biodegradable. Do not burn any of your garbage , as this can release a lot of toxins into the air .
Water: Disposable water bottles just add to the amount of trash you’ll have to carry back home with you. Many campsites now have potable water that you can fill your canteens and reusable bottles from. If there is no potable water available, you can purify it using a variety of techniques .
Escaping from our regular lives means we have to leave as much of it as home as possible, which means abandoning many of the conveniences we’re accustomed to. Following these steps will not only make your camping experience more environmental, it might also make it more enjoyable!
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