12 Tips for Going Green on Your Next Camping Trip


It’s no secret that camping is our favorite activity. There is nothing quite like unplugging from our modern-day reality of a world that revolves around phone, computer, and television screens so that we can reconnect with nature.

Camping is the best way to give your eyes and your mind a break from that blue screen glow and the hustle and bustle of life. But if the idea of “roughing” it has you a bit freaked out, don’t worry: camping today can still have all the comforts of home (though we do suggest leaving behind the computers and minimizing your phone time).

No longer does camping have to be an experience stripped of all the luxuries of life, but you just want to be careful about how far you take it.l about how your camping style is affecting the environment.

That’s why we are making a big effort to ensure that we are doing our best to be as green as possible while camping. We’ve only got one planet Earth, so we need to give our greatest efforts at keeping it happy and beautiful so that we can enjoy all it has to offer.

Here are some of our top tips for incorporating more green practices into your camping trips.

How to Become a Greener (and Thus, Happier) Camper

Prepare to be surprised at how little effort it takes for you to have a more eco-friendly camping trip.

1. Use rechargeable batteries

Think of all the different ways you use batteries when camping. Flashlights, cameras, lanterns, speakers, and headlamps are just a few.

Think of how much waste that creates if you are going through those batteries as quickly as you do when using these electronics. Instead, switch to rechargeable batteries.

Though you may spend more money upfront (as rechargeable batteries are a bit more expensive), in the long run you’ll end up saving money on batteries you’re using and throwing away.

And Mother Nature will thank you for not creating unnecessary waste.

2. Buy non-toxic sunscreen and bug spray

Camping in the warmer months means you’ll be lathering on the sunscreen and bug spray to ward off the sun and flying critters.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are good you’ve seen in the news lots of talk recently about the harmful effects that sunscreen and bug spray can have on the environment. The toxins in this chemical-laden products have massive effects on animal life, as well as air, water, and plants. Not to mention, yourself!

So spend the few extra dollars and swap out that harmful sunscreen for a non-toxic one that will be much more safe for you and for the environment.

3. Invest in reusable water bottles

We get it — it seems so easy to just run to the grocery store and grab a case or two of bottled water to take with you on your camping trip. It’s nearly effortless and is a cheap and easy way to ensure you’ve got clean water.

However, those disposable water bottles are wreaking havoc on our environment. They are filling up our landfills and are also ending up in the oceans where they are doing some serious damage to aquatic life.

In addition to that, these bottles don’t always seem to make their way into the trash, and end up littering the campgrounds and the forests.

So, keep everyone clean and happy by doing a bit more planning on your part and purchasing some water bladders or bottles that you can use over and over again while camping. You can even buy gallon jug of water that you refill throughout your trip if you’re looking to save some money.

This is a great practice to implement even when you aren’t camping. When home, try to make it a habit to use refillable water bottles.

4. Make your own snacks

There are some seriously good camping snacks out there. From protein bars to fruit bars; from chips to yogurt on-the-go, there is no denying that the food industry has really found a great market in delicious camping snacks.

However, think about all the waste that is created by every one of those snacks. How many trails have you been on where you’ve seen wrappers from protein bars? It’s happened at least a handful of times to all of us.

And while the snacks are good, guess what? You can make ones that are just as delicious at home. With the help of KOA’s hundreds of recipes, you’ll find yourself enjoying the DIY snacks far more than the store-bought ones.

An added bonus of this one is the money that you’ll save. Store-bought snacks are not cheap, but the ingredients they use are. You’ll also be able to make the snacks more healthy if you have control of what you’re putting in.

See how this is an all-around bonus? So get online and start searching for some recipes to perfect before your next camping trip!

5. Opt for used or rented gear

Depending on how you do camping, there can be a lot of gear involved in the experience. While we love the feeling of getting some new camping gear, the production of all this gear can have quite a hefty effect on the environment (not to mention your wallet).

So, instead of heading to the store to buy some new camping gear, head first to Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, friends and family, or other venues to see if you can rent, borrow, or purchase used gear.

And if you’re a handy person, then you can even pick up some gear in need of repair and fix it yourself to make it brand new.

You’ll feel great about saving the environment AND some serious money while you’re at it.

6. Pick up reusable plates and dishes

Obviously you won’t be bringing your dinner plates from home when you go camping. What most people tend to opt for are plastic or paper plates that they can leave behind without worry.

However, what many people fail to think about is the effect that this single-use plates, cups, and napkins have on the environment and the amount of additional waste they are creating.

Instead, we suggest packing sturdy yet washable plates, cups, cutlery, and napkins that you’ll take with you every time you head out camping. Not only will this cut back on waste for the environment, it will also end up saving you money. If you’re buying plastic or paper versions of these items every time you camp, that will certainly add up.

7. Practice the Leave No Trace principles

Whether you are a seasoned camper or a newbie, leaving no trace behind is something you should absolutely be practicing.

Don’t know what the Leave No Trace principles are? We’ve got you covered:

  • Plan ahead & prepare
  • Travel & camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of other visitors

These principles have been put in place not only to ensure that you are camping safely, but also that you are protecting the environment from damage that could possibly render spots no longer usable.

Simple but crucial, make sure you are implementing these principles every time you head into nature.

8. Know what to do when nature calls

If you are in an area where bathrooms may not be an option, you need to be mindful of how you are ridding your body of its waste.

KOA campgrounds have bathrooms for campers, but you mind find yourself out on a trail with no bathroom around.

If that happens, then here’s what you want to do.

First of all, you’ll want to come prepared with your own toilet paper. Secondly, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing your business in a place that is off the path of where people will be walking, as well as 200 feet away from any water sources. It is also suggested that you dig a hole and cover it up when you’re doing. And lastly, do NOT leave the used toilet paper in the woods. Bring along a bag that you can keep it in until you get to a spot where you can properly dispose of it.

9. Aim for gear that is made of recycled materials

Though this may be difficult for all your camping gear, where it is possible aim to get gear that made with recyclables.

Tents and sleeping bags provide great opportunity for such material that help to lower environmental waste.

10. Keep your food in eco-friendly containers

Since we are assuming you’ll be cooking most of your food when camping and not opting for store-bought options that produce waste, you’re going to want some eco-friendly containers to keep that food in.

Look for something that is free of BPA and phthalates. This is much better for the environment, and much better for you.

Plus, they can double as containers to use while you’re home as well — they don’t have to be exclusively for camping.

11. Stick to the trails

Though the idea of going off the beaten path and exploring the great unknown, you actually can do a great deal of harm to the environment by doing this.

By sticking on the trails that have already been created, you are doing your part to minimize the chances of soil erosion happening as well as keeping from destroying plant life.

12. Pack out all garbage

Whatever you take in to the campground, you need to take out. And the best way to do this is by sorting your waste into two different piles: trash and recycling. If you’re feeling extra eco-friendly, you could even create a pile for composting as well.

Even if your campground does not have the proper means for recycling or composting, bring it with you back home where you can rid of it the right way.

This is one of the key ways to protect the environment while you’re camping, and also to make sure that future campers can enjoy a clean campsite as well. It takes all of us working together to keep Mother Nature in tip-top condition.

We love how easy it is to turn your camping trips into a eco-friendly experience that benefits the great outdoors and you, too.

Ready to put your new green camping skills to the test?

Head over to and pick your next camping spot from our fabulous options.

Leslie K Hughes

Leslie, a.k.a. Copy Girl, is a copywriter who gets butterflies from telling stories through words.

Her voice comes from a place filled with passion, dreams, and lots of sugar. “Cake over steak” is her go-to motto.

With over 10 years of experience in crafting words, and years of embarking on travels that have taken this Montana girl to some incredible places, Leslie love the adventures of both body and mind her writing takes her on.

Everywhere she goes, she takes this advice with her:

“Hold on to your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown.” – Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

To see what Leslie’s up to in the writing world, visit her website here.

If there's anytime to "go green" it's when you're camping. Use our easy tips to ensure your next camping adventure in the great outdoors is as kind to to Mother Nature as possible. Here's how to go green when camping.