Leave No Trace: The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Camping for a Sustainable Adventure
Updated: Nov 27
Summer is around the corner and you look forward to your holiday but you are unsure how you can make your camping trip as eco-friendly as possible. Does this sound like you? Then you are in the right place. Read here about my 10+ tips to make your camping trip as eco-friendly as possible.
Making your camping trip more eco-friendly might take a little bit more effort but our dear planet would be so grateful for it.
Don't feel like reading? Watch it instead!
Going zero waste camping might require a little bit extra effort and discipline but the planet will love you for it and you feel awesome afterward.
Not only you are making an effort in making the world a little greener, lots of campsites are making an effort as well. You just need to look for them. Look for the campground's efforts to reduce waste and conserve resources, such as using solar power and recycling programs and the availability of eco-friendly amenities such as composting toilets and low-flow showers also make a great impact. Also take a look at what they do with the surrounding environment, such as preserving natural habitats and protecting wildlife.
Look for a campsites that promote responsible and sustainable tourism practices, such as leaving no trace principles, reducing single-use plastic usage and promoting community-based conservation efforts. An eco-friendly camping experience not only helps protect the environment but also offers a unique and rewarding outdoor adventure.
Choose a tent that is durable, lightweight, and easy to set up (no leaving the tent behind!). Last year we were in the market for a new tent as there were multiple leaks in our previous tent. Both the roof and ground cloth were leaking and the tent has been used frequently over the past 10 years old meaning the tent has served its purpose and was used up completely. So we purchased a new tent. Our new tent was quite pricy as we choose a tent that was made with cotton instead of a type of polyester. The latter usually being cheaper. We choose cotton because it has a natural recourse and it lasts much longer compared to polyester. This not only saves us money in the long run and it also prevents unnecessary waste.
We also purchased a repairing set with our new tent so we can fix small leaks that might occur when we use the tent. During our first trip, we, unfortunately, had to use it already. Although there were no leaks in the tent, there was a leak in one of the pipes. We purchased an inflatable tent that has pipes instead of tent poles. From the first day on one of these pipes wasn’t completely airtight and we needed to fix it so we could use the tent on this trip.
Convenience food is so nice when camping but it is not very eco-friendly. Luckily, there are more and more alternatives nowadays. Start by packing bulk foods in containers or reusable bags before the trip. This way go have a nice start and you can reuse these containers/bags along the way saving you from using single-use plastic. Bring your own utensils, plates, and cups. Even though there are nowadays more paper alternative to plastic disposables, using decent plates and cups is much more eco-friendly. Not only that, but it also saves you from a lot of hassle as eating with plastic or paper utensils is just annoying. Bring a stainless steel or bamboo straw if you want to use a straw. Bringing a reusable water bottle when you go on a hike should go without saying. There are so many nice options for water bottles nowadays that using bottled water packed in plastic should not even be an option anymore. Try to use up all the food you have prepared but if you end up with biodegradable food waste, but all of those in a container and compost at a compost site when possible. I know some camping site have their own compost places but if they don’t, bring everything with you so you can compost it at home at the end of your trip.
Bring solid soap, shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant. Compared to their bottled counterparts, these save you lots of space (and weight) in your bag as the solid versions have removed all the water. Tampons and pads can be replaced by either a menstrual cup or reusable pads. Bring a wet bag for the used reusable pads so you have a convenient place to store them. Using reusables for your period is not only eco-friendly for your camping trip but also in everyday life, these are great. Make sure you have used these before your trip as you don’t want to feel uncomfortable using these for the first time along your trip.
I don’t know about you but when I go camping I just don’t bother bringing makeup. Putting on makeup and removing it at the end of the day is just a little too much of a hassle for me but if you really want to bring some, create a very minimal makeup routine for your camping trip.
Don’t forget to bring sunscreen! Protecting your skin against the damaging effect of the sun is very important for your health so don’t forget to apply a healthy dose of sunscreen every day.
I love to read but bringing physical books is quite heavy. An e-reader is a great alternative that not only saves you a lot of weight in your pack but also saves lots of paper. Another benefit of an e-reader is that it often has a built-in light so when the sun goes down, you are still able to read your book. A tablet can provide you with a movie in your tent if you desire so.
Bring a solar-powered power bank so you can charge your phone and other electronic devices if you are camping in the wild with no electricity.
A deck of cards is a great addition to every suitcase as it can provide you with games you can play on your own but can also be used as a group. We also have a few travel versions of physical games. These can be packed very small and are lightweight. They provide entertainment when the weather doesn’t allow for us to go outside and we don’t feel like reading.
Bringing cloth diapers on a camping trip is a challenge but some campsites will allow you to wash your diapers. So, if you have a little one in diapers and you would like to go camping, contact the campsite before your trip about the possibilities. If you don’t want to bring cloth diapers on your camping trip (which I understand as mommy wants a holiday too), choose biodegradable diapers. Make sure to purchase a pack or 2 prior to the trip as you often don’t know what is available in stores near the campsite.
Kids don’t need a lot of things while camping. As most kids love the outdoors and playing in nature is often all the entertainment they require. My daughter can have hours of fun just playing with a stick.
Teaching kids about eco-conscious camping is a great way to teach future generations about how to make a difference in this world. Making them aware of their own waste will help them be responsible adults in the future.
The Leave No Trace Principle
The Leave No Trace principle is a set of guidelines that promote responsible and sustainable outdoor recreation. The main goal of the Leave No Trace principle is to minimize impact caused by humans on the environment and protect the earths natural resources. The seven Leave No Trace principles are:
Plan ahead and prepare - this includes researching regulations and weather conditions and bringing appropriate gear.
Travel and camp on durable surfaces - avoid damaging vegetation and stick to the trails and campgrounds.
Dispose of waste properly - pack out all trash and leftover food, and bury human waste at least 200 feet from water sources.
Leave what you find - do not disturb natural and cultural features and leave historical artifacts alone.
Minimize campfire impact - use portable stoves for cooking and avoid building new fires.
Respect wildlife - observe wildlife from a distance and store food securely to avoid attracting animals.
Be considerate of other visitors - keep noise levels down, yield the trail to other hikers, and follow posted rules and regulations.
Adhering to the Leave No Trace principles helps to preserve the natural beauty of our public lands for future generations to enjoy.