“Toasted marshmallows”, says my 8-year old. “A sleepover” says the 4 year old and “making a fire” adds the 11 year old when I ask them for their favourite things about camping. For me, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of coffee and breakfast, outside in the fresh air, following a fantastic sleep.
Camping and getting back to nature is good for the soul. It can also be an eco-friendly way to holiday. With a bit of preparation and creativity, you can make sure your camping trip creates as little an impact as possible. Here are some tips for turning your camping trip into an ethical, sustainable stay in the outdoors.
Your first consideration for an eco-camping trip is destination. If you are travelling far, the petrol and emissions can offset any potentially sustainable habits once you reach your destination. Consider exploring somewhere closer to home if you are only going for a few days. As well as helping the environment it's also a great way of exploring the hidden gems on your doorstep.
If you are going further afield do some research and opt for a sustainable, ethical or eco-campsite. These sites aim for carbon neutrality or offset. They are growing in popularity and becoming easier to find.
Plan Your Meals
Make at loose meal-plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the duration of your stay. Then take what you can from home. Try to remove as much recyclable packaging as you can before you leave; take a recycling container with you for the rest.
Don’t forget to take your own reusable bags to carry any necessary shopping when you are away Remember your containers (and beeswax wraps if you have them) for storage and to take any leftovers home.
Pack extra ice packs for the coolbox. You can then alternate between re-freezing and cooling. Do check what facilities your campsite has, but even the more basic ones will often have facilities to re-freeze your ice packs for you. Just remember to label them before you go!
Don’t forget your reusable water bottles to fill up from the campsite - there is bound to be a drinking water tap on site. Not only does it help to ditch the single use plastic, it’s also a huge penny saver!
Take reusable cutlery, cooking utensils and plates rather than single-use ones. If you already have plastic reusable plates at home use those. Ceramic plates can be too heavy, so if you don’t want to use them and don’t have anything else, search secondhand stores for lighter reusable plates or picnic sets, which are usually perfect. Check ahead, the campsite may even have a stock of kitchen utensils you can borrow whilst you are there.
Don’t forget those tea towels and when they get too dirty to reuse, store them in a wet bag out of the way until you can wash them at home.
They say it all starts with the big buys. And they are right! Start with the tent.
Make sure it is durable and will last so that you will be able to reuse it. Keep it clean and make sure to reapply treatment to maintain weatherproof. Nikwax make a range of products that are ideal for this.
If you are not a seasoned camper, opt for a tent that is easy to disassemble after use. Many people just leave their tents behind at festivals because they are hard to fold and repack.
Pack light for the children
If you have little ones that are in cloth nappies remember to bring a few wet bags to store the dirty ones in. If you are worried about having enough to last your trip, check to see if the campsite has washing facilities you can use. Then just hang them outside in the sunshine to dry.
Ditch the wet wipes and instead go prepared with your own cloth wipes. You don’t need to buy anything special, old T-shirts and clothing can be cut up into smaller pieces and stored in a bag. Just wet them as and when you use them, throwing all the dirty ones in the wet-bags.
Nature can provide ample distraction without the need for any screens. Explore the campsite and the surrounding area, opting for car free sites if you want them to run wild and free.
Bring a few of their favourite toys, some crafty activities like water-colour paints, a selection of books and some outdoor toys. A football, frisbee and boules are usually in our car boot.
Those all-important toiletries
Toiletries can be a simple way to up your sustainability. Shampoo and soap bars reduce your plastic usage and it's quick and easy to pack enough for the whole family. Just remember to have something to store them in, a cotton bag or tin works well.
If you have larger bottles of products at home, decant what you can so that there is no need to buy special plastic mini travel items. Use cloth wipes and reusable make up remover pads instead of single-use wipes for your face.
You can also try to pack reef safe sun lotion and chemical free bug repellants. A citronella candle outside in the evening is a lovely smelling alternative to DEET. Light it with matches rather than a plastic lighter.
Recharge those batteries
Although in an ideal world we would get ditch our technology for the duration of a camping trip, this isn’t always feasible or practical.
If you are camping off grid or without an electric hookup you will need to think about having a reusable charger, either a power pack or a solar powered device. BioLite's innovative FirePit can burn natural fuel and turn it into electricity, so your evening campfire can recharge your phone or batteries. Read here for a review of BioLite's other sustainable power systems.
We all love the Great Outdoors. Let's do our best to try and look after them when we're out there enjoying ourselves.