Camping is a great way to reconnect with nature and the outdoors. But it should also be every camper’s goal to leave little evidence behind of their presence. We all have to do our parts to make sure that the wild areas that we all enjoy will still be just as beautiful for the next generation of campers.
We’ve all seen the Smokey the Bear commercials where Smokey hugs campers when they use proper fire safety techniques. Who wouldn’t want a hug from Smokey the Bear?
These techniques are of the utmost importance for every camper to understand, and are the first step towards having a green camping experience. It only takes one little spark to ignite a wildfire that could damage acres of pristine wilderness and hurt people in the process.
Fire safety is one of the most important things to keep in mind while camping. Smokey the Bear has all kind of tips that you can find here.
In fact, if you want to keep things green while camping, it turns out that the most green camping fire method of all is to avoid fires all together. Never build one on the ground except for areas where it’s allowed such as fire pits or rings present at your campground. Taking along a small portable stove for cooking and some lanterns for light is a much greener alternative.
Choosing your campsite is another important step towards green camping. A good campsite shouldn’t require any sort of damage or alteration to the environment. You should choose an already existing campsite or find a location that has durable and clear ground. Try to avoid any areas where plants may be growing or in areas where your camping activities may cause erosion or any other damage to the area.
The old camping adage of “pack it in, pack it out” is also a very green way to camp. Simply put, don’t leave anything behind, including trash, paper, or the last few bites of those scrambled eggs you couldn’t quite finish. Even if you think something is degradable or harmless, your goal should be to leave with everything you went camping with. Trying to leave with even more than you took is another great goal. Pick up any litter that you see that may have been left by a previous camper with much less regard for the environment than you.
It can also be very tempting to wash dishes in a stream or lake that you may be camping near. This is a big no-no for green camping. Polluting natural water with any sort of foreign substances can have massively harmful effects on the ecosystems present in them.
Green camping also means observing nature with respect and refraining from moving or taking any natural items with you. It sound like something you’d tell a little kid (“You can look but don’t touch”), but it’s a great tip for any camper. That pinecone you walked by on your morning hike might look like a great memento to remember your trip by, but a picture is a much better idea. Remember that you are a visitor in the forest. Treat nature in that way and you will be doing it a huge favor. (No limit on the amount of pictures you snap though!)
Green camping also has a lot to do with simply using common sense. For example, instead of firing up your vehicle to charge your cell phone, consider one of the many affordable solar charging units that are available these days or The BioLite CampStove. Hopefully you won’t be using your cell phone much anyways while enjoying the outdoors, but if it’s your primary camera than your battery may get low.
The best green camping tenants that I hope you take away from this article are to respect nature and the wilderness while you are visiting them, and to make it an active goal to leave no trace behind that you were ever there. If you are camping with youngsters, I also highly recommend passing these ideas on to them as well.
Keep these green camping tips in mind the next time you head out into the woods to pitch a tent and enjoy the fresh air!