By Dawna Matthews
It’s summer and many of us are outside hiking, swimming, biking and camping. Camping is always something romantic to me — the idea of getting away from all the buzz of home, sleeping under the stars, listening to the outdoors singing around me as I connect to nature. Whether you are camping in the woods or on the beach, you can experience a major nature buzz-kill if you arrive to see broken bottles, trash, and food refuse left from the camper before you. Whether you are camping or glamping (glamorous camping), you can still be environmentally responsible and have a green outdoor experience.
Leave nothing behind: Pack up any litter found at your campsite, whether it is yours or not, and leave the campsite cleaner than the way you found it. This includes gear, trash, recyclables and all other materials; then dispose of it properly. Pack as many biodegradable products as possible; use reusable dishes, cookware and flatware; and use earth friendly dish soap. “Leave no trace” so other campers can enjoy the space and the earth is protected.
Buy or borrow used gear: If you don’t camp often or are unsure about whether this will be a regular activity, borrow gear from friends, or buy at resale shops or online. You can find tents, backpacks and more at local used sports gear stores or on websites such as swapitgreen.com.
Minimize impact: Stay on the trail. Wear soft soled shoes. And leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects as you found them in order to minimize disturbance of the land, soil erosion and destruction of the environment. Wandering off the trail can cause damage to the local flora and fauna, and can be dangerous. Pick a well established campsite and use designated areas for campfires. You should never burn plastics or other toxic materials in campfires or leave campfires to burn out unattended.
Camp locally: Reduce emissions and travel time by camping in a local state park, by a lake, a beach, mountains, or a campground. Search http://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm for locations near you.
Build a Safe Campfire: Build a small campfire in designated rings only, away from flammable items such as tents. To ensure that the coals and flames are extinguished, allow 30-45 minutes before leaving the site or going to bed. There are many bans and fire restrictions, so be sure to check with a ranger or park website. When in doubt, err on the side of caution. Having a safe fire means you can enjoy the fun of roasting marshmallows and telling stories or singing around the campfire without worrying about an unintentional fire hazard.
Camping is a simple way to enjoy the outdoors as well as to create memories with your family and friends. When you camp in a green way, you can extend your commitment to living green while leaving a place for future campers to enjoy.
Do you have any camping tips to share??
For more information on camping, visit your state park’s website. Additional information on leaving no trace can be found on