Experience nature without harming it! Camping can be a special experience. It brings an opportunity to enjoy the living landscape surrounded by trees, water, and natural life. As we enjoy these things, we must also remember to care for them. Keep reading for tips on how to enjoy camping while protecting the living landscape.
There seems to always be this debate around washing while camping. How we rinse our grime and soap down our drains at home is not the same as washing it right into waterways. While biodegradable soaps are preferred, all soaps can contaminate freshwater sources. Using a biodegradable soap doesn't reduce its immediate environmental impact; it just means it will biodegrade in time. Biodegradable soaps should be used at least 200 feet from any lakes or rivers. Washing anything in the lake, no matter what product you use, is never a good idea! No matter how gentle they claim to be, the detergents in soaps can impact the oxygen level in water impacting aquatic life. They can also contain ingredients that foster algae blooms, further impacting the health of the water and its inhabitants.
Waste is also a major contributor to camping green. Avoid bringing disposable cutlery and dishes. Pack reusables that you can wash. Limit dishes and prepare meals at home and freeze them to take with you. This will help with easier cleanup! Collect all waste and recyclables and use the facilities provided to you at the park or pack it and carry it home. Bring garbage/recycle bags with you or pack a dry bag for reusable spill-proof storage that is easy to clean. NEVER burn garbage in your campfire. Burning garbage releases dioxins and other toxic pollutants into the environment. While some items may seem easy to burn and disappear from your sight, the chemicals released will linger in your airspace.
Be eco-friendly with your water choices as well! Most campgrounds have access to potable water. Bring reusable water jugs and canteens to fill up. To conserve water, use a basin to wash hands and then to wash dishes. Solar showers are also convenient for camping. They use solar energy to heat the water in only a few hours and can be hung up for a quick rinse or full shower. Remember to situate yourself at least 200m from a waterway!
While you care for the items you bring and pack away, also think of what is on your body, especially if swimming. Bug sprays can be bad for you and the environment. DEET has been classified by the USFDA as a Group D carcinogen (cancer-causing agent), is believed to be an endocrine disruptor and a neuro-toxin associated with kidney and liver damage. DEET has been detected in groundwater and is also a serious environmental contaminant. Consider purchasing all-natural bug repellent, make your own, or wear screened bug-proof clothing. Sunscreen is also important to consider. The best sunscreen is a long-sleeved shirt and hat. According to the Environmental Working Group, some sunscreen ingredients absorb into the blood and are linked to toxic effects, release skin-damaging free radicals in sunlight, could disrupt hormone systems, cause allergic reactions, and may build up in the body or environment. To rate your sunscreen, visit www.ewg.org/sunscreen
Try this DIY bug repellant recipe for your next trip!
Combine 10-25 drops of eucalyptus, geranium, peppermint, clove, or citronella, essential oil, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, and 1 tbsp aloe vera gel. Shake in a jar and apply drops on your skin or clothing.