Easy ways to have a low waste camping trip with your family
Use what you have
With COVID, camping was going to be the main opportunity to get out and explore this summer but we haven't actually camped in decades. We were looking forward to it but also worried about what we would need to go camping with kids and dogs. Going low waste has really taught us to be mindful about what we purchase and ask for things we need! Here are some of the items we used and borrowed to make this trip amazing:
- Cutlery, plates and cups from home.
- Tea Towels - we used these for napkins, towels, cleaning up messes.
- Tarps, canopy tents, sleeping bags and coolers we borrowed.
- Wood for the fire came from our neighbor.
- Old plastic ziplock bags that we have had forever helped to pack and store items.
Bring plastic free meals and snacks.
This is where we feel like we had the most success although it was a lot of planning before we left to prepare. It felt good to eat well and not fill up bags of garbage. Here are some of the ways we made mealtimes low waste:
- We each took different meals to plan.
- Everyone got a plate and cutlery for the duration and we took turns on dish wash duty.
- For dishes we had a tupperware container we filled and used a dish block safe for the environment.
- Lots of tea towels were brought to eliminate any paper towels.
- Before we left we cut and prepped fruit and vegetables.
Making it to the lake in one piece, package free.
Getting all of us to the lake with all our stuff is a win all on its own. Doing it with as little plastic and packaging is another level. I won’t lie it took a lot of planning beforehand and the understanding that it might just not work. Here are some of the things we packed for the day to keep things low waste:
- Lots of bulk food! We took bulk food snacks that would stand up to hanging out in a hot sometimes wet wagon.
- We used beeswax wraps, old tupperware, snack bags and wet bags to wrap and carry food and clothing.
- We brought all our half used sunscreens to use. They don’t come in friendly packaging but we wanted to use what we had first before switching to a more sustainable option.
Where we struggled.
I want to say we did a whole camping trip with no plastic but that just isn't realistic and honestly wasn’t our goal. We wanted to enjoy the outdoors with the kiddos and be mindful about the waste we were creating. Here are some of the areas we struggled with but feel we can make some improvements on for our next trip later this month.
- We ran out of firewood (not camping for 19 years really makes it hard to know how much wood to bring) and when we bought more at the store onesite it came wrapped in plastic.
- Food scraps we put in a separate bag to take home and compost but the kids grabbed it on a garbage run and well there it rests.
- We bought one new tent and it came wrapped in a box, in a bag and then another box! So much packaging.
- Our plant based hamburger patties came in a lot of packaging.
Don’t stress it.
Here comes the low waste camping pep talk. Camping is a lot of work and in a pandemic can be challenging to reduce plastic and packaging waste. Again we always want to stress this is not about being perfect but finding ways that work in your life and where you are to make small improvements. Taking this time to connect with your family in nature is the biggest priority.