Aug 18, 2011

Camp like a (green) champ

Ah, camping. That coveted chance to head to the woods and get away from it all - to get off the computer, enjoy being with nature and drink a few cold ones on a lake. Unfortunately, sometimes "getting away from it all" also means buying a pile of unnecessary stuff, creating a bunch of garbage, and, in a few select cases, burning entire trees on a fiery inferno started with gasoline (guys on the east side of Harrison Lake, I'm looking at you).

But, that doesn't always have to be the case. Here are some tips on how to enjoy staying in the great outdoors without being a jerk to the earth:

Photo by Thruhike98 on Flickr

Plan your meals
Something about not having access to a grocery store makes people shop like they're preparing for the apocalypse. Planning your camping meals doesn't only cut down on food waste, it also saves you money. Think about it - if you're going for two nights, you're going to need two breakfasts, one (maybe two) lunches and two dinners. Plus some snacks. Not a cooler full of hot dogs, two dozen eggs, a 2 lb bag of apples and 5 varieties of chips. Things like pasta salad take about 20 minutes to make before you go, and are great to snack on over the weekend. If you're going with a group, try meal-sharing - it means everyone has to buy less food and you won't have to cook every meal. A blog I just discovered, Dirty Gourmet, has some great camping recipes.

Make your own ice
Paying for ice is like paying for bottled water - just not that smart. Bags of ice always drove me nuts - not only was I paying for frozen water, but we'd end up with about 5 of those plastic bags to throw out after each trip. My partner in crime suggested this idea and I thought it was genius: fill empty 2 litre bottles with water, freeze them and voila - instant ice blocks that you can re-use. And then when they melt, you've got 2 litre bottles of ice-cold water to drink!

Use a refillable water jug  
See first sentence from the point above. Not only is it dumb to pay for water (especially when Vancouver has some of the best tap water ever), it's even dumber to create a pile of empty plastic bottles. Buy a big water jug - or even better, look for one on Craigslist - and fill it up before you go. So. Easy.

Buy reusable dishes and cutlery
I know this seems like a huge pain, but it's really not. True, you can just throw paper plates on the fire so it's not really garbage... but do you really need to use all that paper for every meal? You can get sturdy plastic dishes at any dollar store. All you need is a dishcloth and some soap. And a coin to flip for dish duty. Which brings me to my next point...

Use biodegradable soap
There's this handy little product called Coghlans Camp Soap. It's biodegradable, comes in a tiny bottle - and check the price. Genius. You can get it at Army and Navy or anywhere else that sells camping equipment.

Plant trees while you drink
You knew there was at least one more mention of beer coming. If you're anything like my friends and I, you like your camping trip with a side of beer. And by a side, I mean a lot. As much as I'd like to lug dozens of bottles of my usual craft choices into the woods, the wallet and transportation logistics don't really allow for it. This is where the flat of beer comes in. Instead of going for PBR *shudder* or some other swill, go for Cariboo. For the price, it's pretty tasty. And for every case sold, they plant a tree in BC. Not a bad excuse to buy beer in bulk.

Pack out your empties
The inevitable side effect of all those lake-side libations is a big ol' bag of empties. If you're at a provincial or private site, there may be a recycling bin. But if you're at a rec site or off in the woods, the rule of "pack it in, pack it out" applies. There is no little old man with a cane and a cart full of bottles coming by to pick up your party remnants. Take them with you! And no, leaving them by the garbage can doesn't count.

If you keep a couple of these in mind on your next camping trip, you'll be able to enjoy your excursion to the woods guilt-free. Well, other than the regrettable things you might do after drinking a flat of beer. Those I can't help you with. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. 2L frozen water bottle = such a good idea! That will definitely be incorporated into my camping planning routine.