- Camp nearby. You can cut driving time and expenses, not to mention going easy on the earth, by taking your camping trip close to home. Here in northern California, we live in one of the most beautiful and diverse environments in the country, with coastline and beaches, mountains and lakes, redwoods and hidden valleys. Check out sites like www.reserveamerica.com to find what California has to offer. There you can find “hidden camping gems”, beach camping spots and trip planning help, including apps for your phone with hiking trails, survival guides and packing tips.
- Buy used gear. Or borrow what you need, if you’re not an avid camper. Backpacks, tents, camping stoves and other equipment can often be found at second hand stores for a fraction of the cost of new gear. You can also check into Craigslist, EBay, GearTrade.com, and Swap.com for online dealers of second-hand gear. Freecycle.org is a local and free online service where members offer what they aren’t using and asking for what they need; see if there is one in your area. Be sure to ask lots of questions about the equipment you’re interested in, too, if you’re buying online since sellers often don’t allow returns. If you are an REI member, look for their “garage sales” where they periodically sell gear that has been returned, rented or for other reasons cannot be sold as new.
- Be respectful of wildlife. It’s wonderful to see animals in their natural habitat; for your safety and theirs, keep a safe distance and be aware especially of your food and trash storage. Becoming friendly with humans can often be a death sentence for wild animals, due to their loss of crucial caution instincts, developing a taste for inappropriate food, and becoming labelled as a “problem” animal. For example, did you know a bear’s sense of smell is 100 time more powerful than a dog’s and even the most innocuous items can draw their attention? So remember, you are a guest in their home.
- Take your kids. Camping can instill in us a renewed sense of the beauty of nature and our place as its stewards; what a great lesson for children! Having a connection with nature dramatically increases their desire to protect and care for it. So, involve your kids with the preparations for the trip, leave the electronic devices at home, give them meaningful work and let them make mistakes, teach them about the plants, animals and habitats they are experiencing and encourage them to read a map, lead a hike or cook the evening meal. You can help create life-long environmentalists by getting children into their beautiful surroundings, so they can truly appreciate the value of nature.
- “Take only pictures and leave only footprints.” By now you know that we humans are creating mountains of trash, some of which will eventually degrade and some that won’t (like plastic bottles, utensils, diapers, etc.). For a more sustainable camping experience be sure to take any trash home with you (if trash cans are not provided). You can reduce the total trash by not bringing bottled water, using reusable plates, bowls, cups and utensils, and eco-friendly toiletries. For your clean drinking water needs, consider the Lifestraw, a 2 oz. water purifier that Time Magazine called the “Best Invention of the Year” in 2005. Check it out: http://eartheasy.com/lifestraw .
We love the outdoors and now is the time for a camping trip! While you’re enjoying your favorite camp ground or exploring a new park, beach or mountain, you can have fun, enjoy nature and be more environmentally sensitive all at the same time. Here are some tips to green up your camping trip:
SBS believes in the value of collaboration. Our post come from ideas and issues our team feels passionate about. We offer a combination of topical sustainability issues and applicable tips for every month of the year.