In the first article of the Sustainable Camper series, we spoke about the ways that choosing eco-friendly products, managing all kinds of waste while camping, picking the right location and re-using gear can help us camp sustainably. Seeing as how there are far too many sustainability factors to consider while camping, we decided to curate another list of things to keep in mind to further reduce your footprint! With that being said, here are a few practices you can implement into your camping trip that can help you preserve the land.
Campsite Etiquette and Safety
Campsite etiquette is one practice that keeps other campers happy and, most importantly, protects the surrounding environment. For example, keeping the music volume low at night is a way to show respect to other campers. However, it also protects diurnal animals from disturbances to their sleep cycles. If everyone played loud music while camping at night, the noise pollution would negatively impact wildlife.
Sealing your food at night or tying it up in a tree is another crucial element of campsite etiquette. This will keep unwanted critters out of your bags and prevent them from eating something that could harm them. Being mindful of where we wash our dishes is also very important. We must remember to not wash our dishes under water taps or in comfort stations (if the campgrounds have one). Not only would this be unhygienic, but washing them under the water taps could contaminate the soil.
Building responsible campfires is a non-negotiable etiquette and safety rule. First and foremost, if the park or region you’re in does not permit campfires, this must be respected. Oftentimes, this is because it has been assessed that a fire at this particular site runs the risk of spreading and starting a forest fire.
If building a fire is allowed, it is crucial to only use dead and fallen leaves, branches and wood. Only use the designated fire pit, keep flames contained, and completely extinguish them at night.
Pitching Your Tent
When choosing a campsite, we need to be reasonable and respectful of the impact we have. When hiking into a site or hiking along a backcountry trail, it’s important to stay on the trail and minimize venturing off. This will help preserve the surrounding wildlife as it minimizes our presence and the amount of space we occupy. Similarly, we must also carry this mentality when picking a campsite. In other words… only set up camp on clearly designated campsites whenever possible. While it can be tempting to find our own little slice of heaven, doing what we can to minimize human impact should be our top priority.
While camping is a great way to reduce carbon emissions on vacation, getting to the campsites can produce more emissions than necessary. Especially for larger groups, the best way to get to a campsite is to carpool and take as few cars as possible. This will also encourage everyone to pack minimally which means less laundry and waste! When possible, public transit is also a great option. Camping locally can also help reduce our emissions. For those who are extra adventurous, there are many campsites you can kayak or canoe to, allowing you to take in nature along the way.
Interacting with Wildlife
Lastly, respecting wildlife and prioritizing their needs over our desires is imperative. In other words, no matter how badly we may want a cool photo, we must not feed any animals or do anything to intentionally attract them. Always remember to give creatures enough space and to keep food and waste packed in cars or secure bags.
As always, we cannot claim to be camping sustainably without respecting the land and every living thing that inhabits it! Encouraging our friends to come along and practice sustainable camping methods can also help. Above all else, we must do everything we can to leave the land better than we found it!
Written by: Briahna McTigue