9 Easy Ways to Make Your Camping More Eco-Friendly


Make your camping more eco-friendly with these tips.

The concept of “leave no trace” is becoming increasingly popular and important in today’s world.

There are over 100 million visitors embarking on over 10 billion trips into the outdoors in the United States alone every year.

We are beyond thrilled there are so many people adventuring in the outdoors. However, numbers like this really make you think about the toll all these visitors are having on the environment.

The great outdoors suffer from visitors at this volume that bring with them litter, trail erosion, invasive species, and more.

Are you doing your part to keep nature in its beautiful, original state and possibly leaving it better than when you found it?

It does not take much effort to respect Mother Nature and keep her looking and feeling fabulous.

So, keep reading on how you can do your part to make your camping more eco-friendly. This way, you ensure you’ll be able to enjoy the outdoors for years to come.

How to Greenify Your Camping Trip

1. Buy Organic Food

You can start your eco-friendly efforts before you even embark on your adventure into the great outdoors.

By buying food for your trip that is organic, you are already giving the environment a break.

How is that?

Well, the way organic foods are farmed is far more eco-friendly than traditional agriculture. While the traditional way opts for pesticides and fertilizers that are synthetic and anything but natural, organic farmed food always takes the au natural route.


2. DIY Your Snack and Meals

While we are on the subject of food, let’s talk about the food you are going to bring with you on your camping trip.

When at the grocery store deciding on what sustenance to take camping, be mindful of waste.

Rather than getting individual packets of almond butter, get one recycled jar of it you can use again once you’ve scraped the last scoop of almond butter out.

Rather than buying pre-made, packaged energy or protein bars, get the ingredients in bulk to make your own at home and store them in a container to bring with you.

Another reason DIY protein and energy bars are so great is because most of the store-bought ones are filled with junk you don’t want. By choosing to make your own at home, not only are you being more eco-friendly, you are also being more health-conscious and putting only good ingredients into your body.

Rather than buying things such as burritos that are individually wrapped in plastic, make your own at home with some tasty ingredients and put them in a recyclable container to pack with you.

There are an endless number of options when it comes to making your own food for your camping trip that will not only be lighter on your wallet, but will be lighter on the environment.

To get some inspiration for things you can visit, be sure to visit our KOA recipes page. From simple recipes you can cook over the fire with minimal supplies, to more extravagant make-ahead-of-time dinners, we have more recipes for fabulous camping food than you’ll know what to do with.

3. Say “No” To Plastic Water Bottles

Though it seems simple to grab a case of bottled water for your camping trip, think about how much you are hurting the environment.

According to a study done by the Pacific Institute, it takes three times as much water to make one single bottle of water than it does to fill one bottle of water.

To make matters worse, the chemicals used in the production of that one bottle of water are so toxic that it renders that water unusable, and thus it goes to waste.

That same study found that it takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce all the water bottles in the United States every year.

And how many water bottles is that?

50 billion per year. That boils down to 1,500 water bottles being consumed every second in the United States alone.

These statistics are enough to get us off the water bottle trend.

And you should do the same.

Trade in those plastic water bottles for some reusable bottles or bladders to take with you on your camping trip, and anywhere else you’ll want water.

4. Opt for Natural Body Products

When camping, you’ll be taking with you sunscreen, bug repellent, lotions, and makeup.

And, chances are good you’ve thought about how these products affect your body, but not about how using them affects the environment.

Water-soluble products such as sunscreen have the power to pollute lakes, rivers, and any other bodies of water you come across in your adventures.

Thus, you want to avoid products that contain permethrin, because this is deadly to the life that exists in that water.

To keep it simple, if the product is water-soluble, don’t bring it with you. Find ones that will still keep you safe from the sun and bugs, but which won’t hurt the environment in the process.

You’ll also want to get toothpaste and soap that is biodegradable.

It is the accumulation of small things like this that can, over time and with enough people, cause Mother Nature some serious damage.

Non-biodegradable toothpaste and soap can take a very long time to break down, so instead bring ones that will be easier on the environment.

Something else to note: stay at least 200 feet away from any water when using the soap or toothpaste.

This ensures the water is kept as clean as possible.

5. Bring Reusable Dishes

The idea of throwing away your paper plates after dinner rather than doing the dishes sounds so nice — especially when you’re on vacation.

However, the little bit of extra effort you put in by washing the reusable dishes instead of tossing away paper or plastic ones goes a long way with the environment.

You’ll also find that you save money by using the same dishes over and over rather than having to buy new plates and cutlery for every camping trip.

6. Pack Out What You Bring In

One of the best ways you can help the environment and keep your camping areas in good shape is by bringing out what you brought in.

You can easily do this by sorting your waste into trash and recycling.

If you really want to feel good about being eco-friendly, you can even bring a bag for compost.

Whatever you do, do not leave anything at your campsite that wasn’t there before. This means even toilet paper and hygiene products.

Speaking of toilet paper, you need to be sure you are putting any human waste in holes that are 6-8 inches deep, and at least 200 feet from water.

“Carry in, carry out” is a rule that all campers should follow.

There are too many people that break this rule and massively disrespect the beauty of nature.

Don’t be one of them — treat the environment right and bring your trash with you when you leave.

7. Get Used Gear, or Rent

Do you really need to buy a brand new tent, or can you get by with one that is used, or by repairing the one that you’ve got?

There is a great deal of money invested in the camping gear industry, but that doesn’t make it eco-friendly.

The way for you to have the lowest amount of impact on the environment with your camping is not to get the newest gear, but instead to use the gear that already exists.

You can look for gear in second-hand stores, on Craigslist, or even get it from friends.

You’ll love not only how eco-friendly opting for used equipment is, but you’ll also love how much money it saves you.

We are no strangers to the high costs of camping gear, and know the money you spend there can be spent instead on taking more trips and getting into those beautiful outdoors more often.

8. Only Camp In Designated Areas

While “off-roading” with your camping sounds adventurous, you are likely causing the environment a lot of harm by doing so.

Designated camping spots are chosen based on their durability, their safety for you, and their safety for the environment. Staying in areas that will have the least impact on the land is what you should be searching for.

And KOA makes that easy.

With nearly 500 locations across the United States and Canada, we have the best campsites and amenities you can possibly find.

Whether you’re in the mood for tent camping, RV camping, or spending your trip in a Deluxe Cabin, KOA has everything you need to make sure your camping experience is top-notch, and eco-friendly.

9. Practice Fire Safety

Camping just isn’t really camping without a stomach full of s’mores and sleepless nights thanks to spooky ghost stories around the fire.

In other words, the campfire is an integral piece of the camping experience.

However, if done wrong, fires can be a big problem for both you and the environment.

Here are some things to keep in mind when building a campfire:

  1. Research ahead of time any fire bans in place
  2. Only build a fire in a fire pit
  3. Build the fire away from anything flammable such as your tent or sleeping bags
  4. Keep the fire a manageable size
  5. Do not burn food — that will attract creatures
  6. Do not put the fire out and immediately leave the site. Instead, pour water and wait 45 minutes to ensure all the flames are out


Here are some of the eco-friendly happenings around KOA locations:

  • Durango KOA Holiday®: This campground has created a raised-bed herb and vegetable garden which is available for campers to take from. In addition, they’ve found a way to collect rainwater that is used to water the crops, and allows campers to leave their compost to power the soil.
  • Carlsbad KOA Holiday®: You’ll find a wind turbine here that works to power the campground’s offices, its restaurants, and its bathrooms. On top of that, this location’s swimming pool uses a passive solar heater, and the owners use LED lights throughout the grounds.
  • Tucson / Lazydays KOA Resort®: State-of-the-art solar shade structures have been built here to provide shade for an entire acre of campsites, and to also produce clean solar energy.
  • Cape Hatteras KOA Resort®: Post-Hurricane Irene, the owners of this campsite have decided to go very eco-friendly. Not only have they banned the sales of any plastics on site (including bottled water), they have also added solar heating to the new main building which provides hot water for that building, laundry, and the cafe.

Though the concept of being “eco-friendly” sounds quite daunting and like it will take a lot of effort on your part, it is anything but. With this article, you can see how, with the slightest adjustments, you can make your camping so eco-friendly you’ll feel like a superhero.

Taking care of nature ensures it will remain there for you to enjoy. So do your small part and adopt these easy eco-friendly practices into your outdoor adventures.

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.

Camp green with these eco-friendly camping tips.Camp green with these eco-friendly camping tips.