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Green Tips for Every Season

CoolMom provides seasonal tips, ideas and actions you can take to live sustainably and help reduce your carbon footprint throughout the year. Try any or all--even the smallest acts can add up to a tipping point of change.

Summer - It's Camping Time! Can You Really Leave Only Footprints Behind?



Summer's warmer months and longer days make camping the perfect eco pastime (eco friendly and economical). The challenge is so many of us agree!  So how can we ALL enjoy great forests, mountains and seashores without treading so heavy on the earth? We can begin with a challenge to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as we can when camping.

See how low you can go to a waste-free camping experience. Try these tips to get you on your way:

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, start your search 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 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.

  • For cooking and clean-up, pack reusable 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.

  • Careful with 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.)

  • Second use 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 go... 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.

Comments (1)

Terri Glabberson Feb 09, 2011 11:31 PM
Great article out of Seattle Times Editorial Pages http://seattletimes.nwsourc[…]mid=related_stories_section

sent by Kirsten McCaa, Magnolia CoolMom, Co-Founder & Board Member