We love being immersed in the great outdoors, but even camping – as eco as it sounds – can be harmful. However, there are a few simple things you can bear in mind to keep your impact to a minimum…
That means avoiding everything from chopping back boughs and hammering nails into trees to hang lines, to moving fire pits or removing any natural vegetation – including picking wildflowers. Best practice is leave it better than you found it; if you come across other people’s rubbish, take it with you. It’s also important not to disturb wildlife, so always observe from a distance, and make sure any food and medication, as well as personal hygiene products, are safely stored away.
Camping requires a lot of kit, and one way of reducing your impact is by opting for repurposed second-hand gear from outfitters such as Vango, or buying from certified ethical producers such as Patagonia, which also offers a free repair service.
If sitting around a campfire is an integral part of your camping experience, there are a few things to look out for. Firstly, only light fires in existing fire pits/rings or designated areas. Check the local area and make sure it’s safe (ask a local if in doubt), and ensure there is a plentiful supply of local firewood. Finally, never leave a burning fire unsupervised and always thoroughly extinguish it. For the least possible impact, avoid campfires altogether and instead bring along a reusable stove for cooking.
The best advice is to bring waste bags with you and take away any rubbish you might generate, sorting and disposing of it correctly once home. If you’re staying at a well-organised camp site, on-site rubbish disposal may be available, but do be mindful of whether that waste is correctly sorted and recycled or composted. If in doubt, haul it out. If you’re wild camping, be very careful of how you dispose of any human waste. Leave No Trace offers good advice. And cut back on plastic: take reusable water bottles, bulk bags of food, beeswax covers or reusable silicone containers, and soap bars.