Green Your Camping Trip: Put Nature First
Camping is one of nature lovers’ favourite activities. What better way to get close to nature than to trek into the jungle, inhale fresh air and hear the chirps of birds before spending a night surrounding by a myriad of flora? If it isn’t the greens that you favour, the beach or by the waterfall make good spots too. Whichever the selected camping spot is, everyone is bound to get a good dose of fun in nature at its best. It is quite ironic that the nature-loving campers sometimes ‘forget’ their passion for the environment during the camping trip and especially as they leave the camp site.
A trip to enjoy nature can sometimes end up leaving more footprints than before on Mother Earth. Green camping isn’t just all about picking up the trash before you leave the campsite but rather, making sure that your expedition leaves as little effect on the environment as possible. The next time you plan to spend a night out under the stars with your buddies, see what you can do to have a green camping trip.
Planning your trip
Choose your campsite carefully
As a responsible camper, don’t just set up your tent at the most picturesque spot without doing some research beforehand. Make sure your selected campsite is at least 100 feet away from sources of water as there is tendency for water to get polluted even if you are really careful. If you know of a campsite which has been used before with permission from the local authorities, that spot would be the best for camping.
How can I help the environment by merely bringing fewer things on the trip? By not bringing unnecessary things, you reduce the weight your vehicle has to carry. The heavier the vehicle is, the more fuel it has to burn to get it moving. Don’t think that those pieces of unnecessary clothing won’t make much of a difference; if four of your friends pack lightly too, you could all easily shed 5kg altogether. Remember that you are going camping after all, not for a holiday in Milan, and you don’t want to lug a lot of weight into the jungle either.
Use rechargeable batteries
Reduce the amount of discarded batteries by using rechargeable ones; you’d save the Earth from being filled with more trash and exposure to leaked acid from the batteries too. Plan and charge several sets of batteries a day or two before your trip. Do bring along some non-chargeable batteries though just in case.
Use a foot pump
If you are bringing an air mattress, use a foot pump to inflate it. It is even better if your mattress comes with a built-in pump. Foot pumps are a more eco-friendly alternative to electrical pumps which need to be hooked up to your vehicle’s battery, draining its power faster.
If there are just three of you going on a trip, you don’t need to drive a truck to your destination. The larger the engine capacity, the more fuel it burns and the more greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. Also, driving light can refer to your style of driving. Speeding and constant acceleration and deceleration consumes as much as 20% more fuel. The same goes with driving with your windows down, which causes drag. Camping trips always take place at a place out of town, so you’d save on fuel significantly on that long drive to your campsite.
As you camp…
Take the route most travelled
Contrary to what Robert Frost did in his poem The Road Not Taken (“I took the one less travelled by”), don’t try to be adventurous and take a route that few have hiked at before. Not only you put yourself at risk of getting lost, you could also potentially cause soil erosion and disturb existing vegetation.
“Take nothing but pictures“
That is probably the most popular saying uttered by nature enthusiasts to anyone venturing to Earth’s many lovely places. Just as the saying advocates, don’t be tempted to bring home a blooming flower or a strange-looking plant for the only things that you are allowed to take are… well.. pictures.
Don’t use soap in the river
It is ok if you are just dousing yourself with water but if you plan on using soap and shampoo, avoid the river and waterfall at all costs. There are campers or visitors who bring along their toiletries and bathe in the river just as they would at home. The chemicals in the soap and shampoo contaminate the water and endanger aquatic life and those who rely on rivers for water in the household.
Building eco-friendly campfires
What is camping without a campfire? Although wood smoke can contribute to acid rain and smog, campfires are really necessary for cooking, keeping you warm at night and preventing wild animals from coming near you. Set up a campfire if you need to but avoid building one at restricted areas as the fire could spread easily at these areas. Also, do not use fallen branches or twigs as burning wood as they provide nourishment to the soil when they biodegrade. Instead, purchase firewood from the stores and bring them along with you on your camping trip.
Bidding the campsite goodbye
“Leave nothing but footprints”
This is actually the second part of the “Take nothing but pictures…” saying. Don’t leave a trail of sweet wrappers and plastic bottles behind you as you trek. Save all rubbish into your backpack and dispose of them when you return to the campsite. Make sure the bags are tied up tightly so as not to attract pests. If there isn’t a trash can at the site, you would have to bring your discards back with you in the best interest of the environment.
Recycle and reuse
It is great if there are separate bins for plastic, glass and aluminium at the campsite but if there aren’t, it would be good if you could bring all your recyclables back with you to be sorted out at home. Some people tend to leave extra firewood and other things behind just to avoid the hassle of bringing everything home but you can surely reuse those items on your next camping trip.
Kill the fire!
Don’t leave the campfire with the campfire still burning! The fire could spread even if it looks to be only just a small frame. Make sure that you kill the fire completely and also never bury any remains of a campfire as the fire could continue to burn underground despite appearing to have been put out. Tree roots will be harmed by the heat and worse, a forest fire could start.
Being a green camper is not difficult. Campers most likely already have a love for the environment, so extend that love with the extra tips and knowledge gained to better preserve the camping grounds for future expeditions. Share the tips with fellow adventurists so that Mother Earth can continue to be enjoyed by the many generations to come.
Green camping for pet lovers
With more people being inseparable from their furry (or feathery) friends these days, more and more pawed and feline friends are now tagging along on their owners’ camping trips. Be a responsible owner if you really want to bring your pet along, here’s how:
• Check if the campsite allows pets. This is the first thing you must do before getting all excited over Manja coming along on the trip. If you’ve heard of a particular spot that allows pets, it is the safest bet to choose that spot. You can ask fellow campers with pets for recommendations.
• Only bring your pet along if it behaves well. There is nothing more annoying that having it bark at fellow campers or running around destructing plants and chasing after little animals.
• Keep your pet within the campsite for you wouldn’t want them to wander off and get lost. It is also not a good idea to let the animals roam free as they could damage the vegetation in the forest or even get poison themselves from nibbling on herbs and leaves.
• Screw a post into the ground to secure your dogs and cats but keep the post further from the trees in order to prevent the animals from scratching at the tree trunks and damaging the bark.
• Pick up after your pet, just as you would back at home. Do not throw your pet’s waste into the bushes but rather, scoop up after them, place the waste into a tightly secured bag and throw into the rubbish bin.