Camping! What is it really but a big outdoor party? There’s food, and there’s drinks. There’s people, there’s talking; sounds like a party. But what is the aftermath of most parties? The cleanup. After the laughter has died and the music is over, what do we have but a big mess? Chucked beer cans, stains on the rug, broken furniture. Camping is no exception. When people party, destruction often takes priority over preservation. But when the party takes place in the outdoors, a different set of rules must be applied.
Says Carl Van Doren, supervisor at the Great Outdoor Provision Co. in Charlottesburg VA, “Leaving no trace behind” is the main principle behind green camping. Keep this in mind when you choose your site. “Good campsites are not made, they are found.” Try to do as little as possible to alter the environment when you pick your spot. Gravel and dry grass are better than vegetative areas. Also stay on the trail when you hike, so you don’t kill any plants.
Keeping this principle in mind, it would also be a good idea to bring reusable cutlery. Now, obviously we’re not talking about wedding registry grade silverware, but it’s best to leave the plastics at home. It will mean some extra washing, but it saves money and reduces waste.
Use a camp stove instead of a campfire to make meals. “But what is a camping trip without a campfire?” you ask. Well, a green one apparently. Campfires leave mounds of charcoal, make excessive smoke and use a lot of wood. If you must have one, keep it small and try to set it in an area that has already been designated for this purpose.
And what about the bathroom issue? Well, like any waste, human waste must be disposed of properly. The most common procedure is to dig a cat hole six feet deep, 200 feet away from the camp and cover it with dirt. You may insist on hygienic paper, but, drip and dry is always an environmental option.
Plastic water bottles, as you may have guessed, is a no no. Now, if you are something of a “techie” you may have heard about a newly invented water bottle that is capable of using solar cell to generate water from the air and condensing it, but assuming you don’t have the extra $200 dollars to spend,( I mean, why are we camping anyway?) you can stick to refillable bottles and water purification pills.
However, if gadgets are more your speed, you may be interested in my personal favorite: a tent that sleeps three that can be tied to trees, hammock style, to avoid all contact with the land. Just wondering what happens when the kids need to use the bathroom!! Is there a hole in the bottom? But you don’t need these things to have a good time and you don’t need these things to respect the environment and keep your camping trip green. But if you figure out the bathroom thing, let us know!