With a bit of forward planning and reusable swaps, it’s easy for hikers to practice eco-friendly camping. Using the tips below, you can ditch that guilty feeling when emptying your rucksack of rubbish from the weekend camping trip and start having greener trips in the mountains.
1.Swap traditional menstrual products for a MoonCup – Tampons take six months to decompose, and it’s worse for pads – up to 800 years! Not only are they bad for the environment, but tampons and pads can take up a lot of space in a bag. Plus, you’ve got to store all those used products in a plastic bag and carry it out of the park at the end of your camping trip.
Reduce waste and free up space in your rucksack with a MoonCup. All you need is water and some soap or sanitiser, and you’re ready to go. You can also go in the water with it in, meaning more wild swimming opportunities for you!
2.Ditch pre-packaged snacks for homemade treats – Forward planning is needed for this switch, not to mention some go-to snack bar recipes. However, the benefits are worth it. Each granola or snack wrapper takes an average of 75-80 years to decompose. This is because many wrappers are constructed of ‘metallised’ plastic film. Count how many you eat on an average camping trip, and that momentary snack actually sticks around for decades after you finished eating it.
There are hundreds of granola bar recipes available online, and you can wrap them in beeswax napkins. Alternatively, you can create your own trail mix by combining your favourite dried fruits, nuts and bits of chocolate into a tupperware container or reusable bag.
3.Prepare your own camping meals – This step requires the most forward planning and an arsenal of campfire recipes to boot, but it also makes the biggest contribution to eco-friendly camping. Like granola wrappers, portable camping meals in a bag are stored in thick, sturdy plastic and metallic wrapping, and can take decades to decompose.
When creating your own meals, the key is to choose items that are lightweight, full of energy, and can be rehydrated quickly. Couscous and dried pasta mixed with dehydrated foods like mushrooms or tomatoes are good, as is porridge with chopped dried fruits and nuts. Just remember, your body burns a lot of energy when you’re outdoors, and the camping meals in a bag add loads of carbohydrates to compensate for this. Make sure you’re adding enough high-energy ingredients to your homemade meals too.
4.Replace single-use plastic bottles for reusable bottles – Plastic bottles take 450 years to decompose, and over time they also release chemicals into the water. So, bad for the planet and bad for you.
Ditch your single-use plastic bottles for something a water bottle or hydration system that you can reuse. Metal bottles like Sigg are perfect if you’re clumsy like me, and drop stuff all the time.
5.Pre-pack milk powder and tea/coffee – While it can be tempting to steal those individually-wrapped coffees and teas from hotels for your camping trips, the foil wrapping they’re packaged in can take up to 200 years to decompose.
There’s much better brews out there that are more eco-friendly too, so take the time to prepackage your instant coffee granules/tea leaves and milk powder into small tupperware containers, or whatever is most convenient, for more eco-friendly camping. If you don’t like tea leaves, then source plastic-free tea bags, like the ones from Clipper.
6.Ditch soaps. – That’s it. That’s the hack. Many shower gels and soaps in high street stores contain chemicals like parabens, fragrances, etc., that should not enter the natural waterways. This factor is even more important in mountainous environments, which already have a fragile equilibrium.
No one likes to stink, sure, but if you are camping for one night, forgoing a scrub won’t make a huge difference to yourself like it would to the environment. If you’re camping for several nights in the mountains, then it’s unlikely there will be other people around to smell you either.