With the ever-growing popularity of camping, it just makes sense to get in the habit of practicing the “leave no trace” principle. After all, with so many people getting out to see Mother Nature, we must do our best to protect her! The 94.5 million households that have explored the great outdoors over the last couple of years have the potential to do damage to our gorgeous natural resources. Having said that, there is room for everyone if we leave the outdoors better than we found it. Here’s how.
Leave No Trace
Most of us have heard of this, and it really is the Golden Rule of exploring the outdoors. There’s nothing fancy about it, it simply means to leave things exactly as you found them as if you were never even there. Well, that’s not exactly true. Your footsteps on the well-tread trail are all you should leave.
Leave no trace means picking up all of your waste, and even picking up any that was left behind by others. Leave no trace means not moving any natural items you find on your adventures, whether that’s at the campsite, on the trail, or visiting a natural attraction. It also means not introducing any sort of invasive species.
As much as we love a good road trip, the more time you spend in your car, the greater your carbon footprint. If and when you can, opt for enjoying the outdoors as close to home as possible. Of course, we’d love for you to stay with us at Mystic Quarry in Canyon Lake, TX and cannot wait to have you, but there’s also something to be said about exploring your own backyard.
What’s more, the less time you spend driving, the more time you get to be outside breathing the fresh air.
Aim for Making as Little Waste as Possible
As much as zero waste is the goal, most times it’s just not possible, but we can greatly minimize it. For starters, divide garbage into three separate piles:
- Regular trash
- Compost (natural items such as orange peels, egg shells, and coffee grounds)
- Recycling (aluminum cans, paper products, plastic containers)
Cook your own meals as much as possible. On-the-go snacks such as protein bars are convenient, but the wrappers do create more garbage. Opt for taking snacks like trail mix in a reusable, sealed bag. Plan your meals before your trip and only bring what you need. Use reusable containers and bags whenever possible. The big thing here is water bottles. If you haven’t already, get in the habit of always carrying a sturdy, reusable water bottle.
There are great ones out there in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Stainless steel bottles keep your hot drinks hot and your cold drinks cold – and last for many many camping trips. Don’t buy water in single-use plastic bottles! You really don’t need to.
Batteries are another area where you can reuse and recycle. You’ll likely use batteries for lots of things, such as flashlights, headlamps, lanterns, radios, and more. Buy rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones.
Rent or Borrow Your Gear
If you are not a frequent camper, save some money and consider renting your gear or borrow from a friend. Tents, sleeping bags, coolers, propane grills, hiking poles, and even hiking boots are all rentable. Not only does this save you money, it follows the principle of “reuse, recycle.”
Seek out Biodegradable Products
No doubt you have heard how harmful sunscreens are to our water supply and oceans. Choose biodegradable sunscreen – not the type with harmful chemicals that take years to break down. Biodegradable soap is also readily available, as well as toothpaste and bug repellent. Get them all!
We’ve all seen those unfortunate headlines and even videos of people getting too close to wildlife and paying the price. It’s one of the worst things you can do when out in nature. By getting too close and/or trying to interact with or feed wildlife, you are messing with the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Remember that we are merely guests in Mother Nature’s realm. Leave them alone. You can take photos, but from far away. Use that zoom lens!
Also, protect your food at the campsite. Here are some quick tips:
- Don’t leave food scraps on the ground or on the picnic table, clean up everything after you eat
- Use bear-resistant containers or leave the food in your car or RV, locked
- Store your trash in a locked container or use the appropriate receptacle at the campground
- If there is no place to store your food or trash, use a tree and rope to hoist your goods at least 10 feet above the ground