One of the great Canadian things to do during the summer is escaping the city and heading out into our beautiful country for a much-needed connection with nature. Camping is a great way to enjoy fresh air, sunshine and a break from the hustle and bustle, but it can have significant damage to the local environment if proper care is not taken. Here are some tips to make sure you are practising environmentally friendly camping.
1. Bring reusable kitchen tools
Although it might be tempting to purchase disposable cutlery, plates and cups, single-use plastics are wasteful and tend to end up in landfills. Pack reusable kitchen items to reduce the amount of garbage you accumulate during your camping trip. It's also a good idea to pre-plan your meals and bring them ready to heat up in containers- not only are you cutting down on waste but also the number of dishes you will have to do!
2. Buy used equipment or borrow from friends
Rather than going on a full-on shopping spree at Walmart, check to see if any of your friends have camping gear first, especially if you don't plan on camping numerous times a year! Anything you can't borrow, try to buy from a second hand or army surplus store. Something you should also consider is that tents made out of plastic will head straight to the landfill once they are no longer usable. Look for tents made out of cotton, hemp or recycled materials.
3. Limit the use of gadgets, especially those needing batteries
Heading into nature is the perfect chance to unplug and get off the grid, which is kind of the point, right? For must bring items like flashlights, and lanterns, look for solar-powered versions. And while we don't recommend spending your foray into the wildness glued to your cell phone, it is a good idea to bring one along for emergencies, so be sure to pack a solar powered charger too.
4. Use eco-friendly personal hygiene products
Camping is the perfect excuse to get dirty, but it is understandable if you want to freshen up, especially if you are gone for more than a few days. Look for biodegradable products and use a solar shower away from rivers and lakes to minimize contaminating the water source.
5. Wash your clothes with biodegradable detergents
If you must wash your clothes, once again look for a product that is nontoxic and biodegradable, like Charlie's Soap.
6. Choose nontoxic sunscreen and bug sprays
While it's important to protect yourself, if sunscreen washes off in oceans, lakes and rivers, it can leave chemical residues behind. Chose a non-toxic sunscreen and make sure you do the same for your bug sprays, as the jury is still out on how bad DEET actually is for humans.
7. Buy water jugs, not individual plastic bottles
Instead of picking up a giant case of water bottles, grab a few jugs and fill up your reusable water bottles as you go. Not only is it better for the environment, but you'll cut down on trash to bring back.
8. Practice proper toileting
While many campsites have toilets, the further off the beaten track you go, the more likely it is that you'll have to do your business in the bushes. Make sure you are 200 feet away from the campsite and water sources, dig a hole and cover it when you're done. As for the toilet paper? Place it in a paper bag and dispose of it when you return to civilization.
9. Leave nothing behind
Return your campsite the way you found it. Take all of your trash and items home and don't damage or pollute any of the nature around you.
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