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Stepping Lightly on Summer's Last Outdoor Hurrah

Posted by Sylvia Moss at Aug 29, 2016 08:05 PM |

It's time for that one last great adventure outdoors before the kids go back to school. Problem is, everyone else feels the same...

Stepping Lightly on Summer's Last Outdoor Hurrah

Happy eco end of summer.

Our well meaning mad rush to get the family outdoors one last time before summer truly comes to an end can translate to intense crowds and a really intense downtrodden mother earth. So how can we tread lightly and still have a great time?

The goal: Leave the outdoors (and that campsite) better than you left it!

Here's how: Check out our CoolTips below and pass them on...

Start with your stuff:

  • Your gear--rethink it. A good clean, a patch up or a waterproof resealing can save your older camping supplies from the landfill. Or perhaps you can share supplies between friends and neighbors? If you need to restock, search throughout the year at garage sales, second-hand sporting stores or with online classified ads. If you really need to go new, buy items made from recycled materials.

  • Try solar  on for size. To power your campsite, ditch the many toxic batteries for solar powered alternatives, such as a solar inflatable light and a solar charger.

  • Cook and clean with reusable gear. Pack server-ware (BPA free prefered), towels/ napkins and cooking gear. If you must go disposable try fully compostable server-ware. Pack biodegradable soap, a travel water basin, a sponge, and plenty of bags for waste and recyclables.

Reduce, reuse, compost what you can:

  • Consolidate and reduce food supplies. Plan one-pot meals with dried ingredients to reduce trash, dirty dishes and water for clean up. Pack bulk water to refill your water bottles or bring a water purifier for back country.

  • Be mindful of cleanup. Biodegradable soaps aren't intended to be to directly dumped into rivers or streams. Stay 200 feet from natural running water to wash dishes and allow soil and vegetation to filter the soap first. Reuse your dish water to douse your campfire or toss it on rocks away from your site (food particles in the soil could attract scavengers so a rocky surface makes it harder for them to dig and destroy the native terrain in search of the food.)

  • Reuse your shopping bags. Bring plenty of bags and designate for recycle, compost and track. Pack out trash and pet/ human waste.Be prepared to cart all the waste home if there aren't compostable/ recyclable options near your campground.

Pack out the rest:

  • Leave your campsite cleaner than you found it. Pack rubber gloves to pick up trash bits left by you or previous tenants including pet waste and anything left in the fire ring.

  • Get the scoop on how to number two ... Keep toilet seats and outhouse doors closed so scavengers can't get in and pull toxic waste into their habitat. If there are no amenities, plan to pack it all out (both waste and toilet paper, using sealable bags and proper disposal) or commit to correctly burying it. The bury method includes: 1) going 200 feet from water, trail or camping areas; 2) digging a 6 inch hole, about the length of a dollar bill and; 3) fully covering the hole and packing out or burning your toilet paper.

  • Be a role model, pass it on... show your family and friends that it's possible to leave outdoor areas better than you found them, with barely a footprint behind.

For more info on reducing your camping footprint, check out seven principles for leaving no trace.

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