8 Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Footprint While You’re in the Wild
Whelp guys, today is my birthday so I wanted to talk about something I’ve grown increasingly passionate about to celebrate. This past weekend, I went camping out at Francois Lake in British Columbia with a group of people I didn’t really know. What better way to get in touch with nature than to load up the car and cut off communication from the outside world and live off the land? ERR. WRONG.
My realization was that “holy shit, I am the 1%”. Usually I go camping with my tight knit group of friends who are also very conscious so being around a bunch of strangers was an eye opening experience. My rose coloured glasses about this wave of people who care about the planet were ripped off of my face. People had boxes of cookies and pre-packaged Joe Louis snacks and individually wrapped snack bags of Oreo’s and the single use plastic was (literally) flying around. Plastic forks being used for every meal and then thrown into the garbage OR WORSE – thrown into the fire. Some garbage flew into the lake and I actually heard one guy say “fuck the environment”. That’s the moment I knew I would be writing this.
First of all, let’s talk about why we suddenly eat all these things that we don’t usually eat while we’re out camping. (I’m assuming you wouldn’t grab 3 bags of mini Oreo snacks if you were sitting at home.)
BECAUSE IT IS EASIER.
But wait. We’re in the forest with no cell phone reception and no responsibilities and we’re probably not working or doing laundry or cleaning up the house, so why the fuck do we need easy snacks when we have all the time in the god damn world to prepare a proper meal? This is where you have no excuse about TIME.
So now that we know you have all the time in the world and laziness is what’s killing our planet, let’s talk about what you can do to fix it.
1. Mason Jars.
Because I’m someone that has always made time for cooking, it’s a no brainer for me to take the extra hour to make a batch of soup beforehand. Package them into a few jars to have ready made food on hand in case you do want to step away from the camp to go hiking for the day, etc. It’s great for soup because they never leak. I find egg scrambles with lots of chopped up veggies also store very well and taste good cold if it’s raining and you can’t get a fire started. Hand washing is usually a hassle too so if I know I have very messy fruit to cut (mangoes, papaya, pineapple) I will cut them at home first and jar them for snacks.
2. Silicone Bags
I recently stumbled across these reusable silicone bags by Stasher that changed the hiking game for real. Having a mason jar in your backpack while you’re hiking can be dangerous and it seems that the obvious choice is the grab a plastic sandwich bag and fill it with granola or worse, buy a box of granola bars. Why not buy a bag you only have to buy once, that doesn’t leach chemicals or harm the environment?
3. Reusable Utensils
How friggin cool are these? I don’t personally own one because I usually just grab utensils out of the kitchen but if you have a nice silverware set that you don’t want to tote around with you and risk losing, then you need one of these. Also comes with a reusable straw and pipe cleaner and even chop sticks for when you’re at a restaurant that uses disposable chop sticks. Folds up small enough that you could actually keep this on you all the time if you carry a purse or backpack or just leave it in your car. I found this on Amazon, a set of 2 for $10 and they are made of bamboo!
4. Reusable Bowls
Paper and plastic plates are a thing of the past. I brought these camping with me to make cereal in the morning. And I made my own soy milk that was kept in a large mason jar. I got my coconut bowls from coconutbowls.com. In addition to rescuing discarded coconut shells & wasted woods, they provide full-time jobs to dozens of artisans, and donate to environmental, humanitarian and animal welfare charities with every sale.
With every purchase on coconutbowls.com they contribute a percentage of your order to one of three charities. PLANET – Rainforest Alliance, PEOPLE – World Food Programme, ANIMALS – World Animal Protection. I chose the Rainforest Alliance at the check out. Which is the most important for you?
5. Bring your recycling home with you
Burning your garbage doesn’t make it disappear. It releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. While plastic in the ocean is terrible, plastic in the air (carbon dioxide) is heating up the ocean (The Greenhouse Effect) and killing it regardless. There’s no magical way to get rid of plastic aside from just NOT USING IT. Mind you, nobody is perfect. My Kombucha bottles come with a plastic lid which I need to bring home and recycle. Plastic recycling plants have some efforts in reducing the emissions in the air according to National Geographic. While recycling is a good “Plan B”, Plan A should still be to find plastic alternatives. (Happy birthday to me, my boyfriend got me a home Kombucha brewing kit with reusable lids and I feel like the second part of my life has just begun).
6. Easy Snacks
Not to go completely National Geographic on you, but fruits and vegetables are the perfect naturally prepackaged snack and literally the reason human beings were born with opposable thumbs. We are supposed to be able to grab fruits off of trees and pull vegetables off of plants and out of the ground and eat them. When I’m camping I like to cut an avocado in half and eat it with a spoon in its pre-existing bowl. Bananas are also pre-packaged. Not many other animals are able to peel an orange, maybe that’s an idea. Make your own granola by visiting a bulk store and filling jars with dried goods. Get a dehydrator to make your own fruit leather or beef jerky so that it stores better! Make your own crackers. Maybe fruit isn’t your thing. Nothing stopping you from making a good guacamole and finding nachos packaged in a paper bag. Kale chips? Yum. I could go on for days because nothing will fire me up more than laziness at the cost of our planet.
7. Don’t use Chemicals
In a way, it is easier to bring prepackaged things because of the cleanup involved but once you have an arsenal of camping tools and a bin to wash your dishes in, you’re completely set. When you are washing dishes out there, please don’t use chemicals. I use Seventh Generation dish soap. No added perfumes or chemicals, just a natural dish liquid with essential oils. When you dump out your weird artificially scented detergents onto the ground, it not only affects the plants you have dumped it on, but even if you dump it on a pile of rocks, chemicals get carried in ground water and can affect ecosystems miles and miles away.
8. Bring your own water
I feel like I don’t really need to say very much about this. The photo is worth a thousand words. Get yourself a 5 gallon reusable water jug (I haven’t found a silicone one yet) so that you’re never buying a flat of water bottles for a weekend or a portable water filter that you can use to clean creek water for drinking. It’s the easiest and most obvious step in the right direction.
I really hope you took away at least one useful tip from this and comment below if you have any more ideas I may have missed! I’ll be out here brewin’ booch.
xo – Kayla