Guest Post: How to Be an Earth-Friendly Summer Camper

Photo by goobiebilly via Flickr (CC)

We’re going camping in a few weeks. When I tell my friends, most of them gasp and recoil in horror. “You are going camping? You? Oh, ha ha, I get it, you’re going ‘camping’. As in … no, I don’t get it. What are you really doing?”

But seriously. I really am, with my husband and three-year-old (we’re leaving our tiara-toting two-year-old with Nana and Papa this year), as well as one of my best friends and her family.

My job for this camping trip, other than not packing too much and staying out of the way and not shrieking over bugs and other wildlife, is to take care of making this outing as eco-friendly as possible. (Part of me suspects they’re just giving me busywork, but won’t they be surprised when I start laying down the law, huh?) Here’s our eco-friendly camping plan:

Waste: Everything’s going in reusable containers, so we don’t have endless, meat-juice laced packaging to throw out each night. We’ll clean and store the containers to reuse again in a sealed container. We’re not going to burn our trash, since this pollutes the air. We have biodegradable bags that we’re going to raise up into the trees at night, which is apparently a good tip for keeping bears at bay. Bears. Heaven help me. (Cue shriek.)

Fires: We’re going to bring our own wood rather than using wood and sticks that we find on the ground—apparently this can mess with the ecosystem. And we’re never going to cut branches from live trees. (Also, obviously, we’re never going to leave our fire unattended or neglect to put it out properly at night.)

Washing Up: I’m bringing my arsenal of biodegradable, natural, sulfate- and preservative-free personal care products, and will share them with everyone. The most important one: Burt’s Bees All-in-One Wash, which we’ll use for almost everything. Also, and this might be the toughest sell, but I’m going to try: we’re not going to spit our toothpaste into the ground. Each person gets a jar, and they have to spit into that. At the end of the camping trip, what they do with their jar is their business. I’m also bringing the most gentle dish soap I can find, and we’ll wash with water only when possible. We’re getting back to basics, after all.

Eco-system Respect: We’ll ascribe to this rule: leave only (very small and gentle) footprints, take only memories. We’re not going to feed the wildlife, but will simply observe them (while trying not to shriek too much). We won’t leave any trash behind, and we won’t cause any damage to the landscape we’re lucky enough to inhabit for a few days. We’ll be communing with mother earth, not damaging her.

Is it wrong that I still wish I could be communing with the Hilton instead? Wish me luck!

—Marissa Stapley of Saving the World in Sensible Shoes

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