Camping can be one of the most immersive nature experiences you can have. It allows you to interact with nature, see its beauty, and understand the importance of adopting more sustainable practices.
However, identifying the harm of common camping practices can be challenging. It’s not always as simple as cleaning as you go and leaving the campsite as you found it.
This article will discuss the essence of sustainable camping and offer tips to help make your camping experiences more sustainable.
What is sustainable camping?
Sustainable camping involves making conscious choices that minimise environmental impact. There are ways to adopt more sustainable practices, whether you camp with a recreational vehicle (RV) or set up a campsite under the stars.
For example, you can use solar power for RV air conditioner. Renewable energy is an eco-friendly way to generate power while reducing vehicle running costs.
Sustainability can be a personal journey—regardless of if you’re a beginner or a seasoned camper. If you realise you’ve been engaging in unsustainable camping practices, use it as a lesson to improve your eco-camping lifestyle.
How to develop sustainable camping practices
Below are some tips to help you achieve sustainable camping:
- Do your research
Due to the rise of camping’s popularity, certain areas are overwhelmed, causing their sustainability strain. You can promote sustainable camping by looking up less visited campsites that are equally, if not more, beautiful.
As a bonus, you may have a more relaxing experience due to the lack of crowds. However, to hit a popular destination, consider going on a weekday or in the off-season.
- Choose an eco-friendlier mode of transport
Whenever possible, opt for a transport mode with as little carbon footprint as possible, such as carpooling or public transportation. These are eco-friendly options and are ideal for various reasons, including:
- It increases your time for socialisation, interaction, or building connections.
- It’s more cost-effective than fuelling your vehicle.
- It contributes to cleaner air in urban areas.
- It helps reduce traffic congestion compared to individual vehicles.
While most national parks in areas like New South Wales require a vehicle, those closer to major cities, such as Sydney, are accessible by public transport and hiking. Of course, the options above won’t always be possible. For such cases, striving to strike a balance is your next best course of action, which could mean making up for it on your next trip.
- Borrow or rent gear
If you’re not yet an avid outdoors enthusiast, you might not need to buy all the necessary gear. Instead, you can start by borrowing gear from friends or renting them.
This allows you to save money while understanding which equipment you need. If you fall in love with the sustainable camping lifestyle, you’ll also better understand which ones you like.
Alternatively, you can buy used gear from brands like Patagonia at discounted rates. These items usually come from campers who have levelled up their gear requirements. They might be pre-loved, but they’re still fully functional.
- Pack eco-friendly essentials
The sustainable camping lifestyle extends from gear like sleeping bags, clothing, and tents to essentials like toiletries, utensils, and reusable containers.
Here are some things to consider for your next camping trip:
- Biodegradable soap: Made from eco-friendly ingredients like lavender, citronella, and natural oils, you can use this soap for bathing, washing dishes, and laundry.
- All-natural sunscreens and bug sprays: While they may seem harmless, many of these products usually contain toxic chemicals that can harm fragile environments, such as lakes and wetlands.
- Wag bags: These go-anywhere toilet kits allow you to bring human waste out of the wilderness. While they may seem unsightly, these bags are filled with ‘poo powder,’ that gels, solidifies, and breaks down waste using natural enzymes to neutralise bacteria and odour.
With the global push for increased sustainability, there’s an entire catalogue of products for eco-camping, making it more convenient than ever to embrace an environmentally friendlier lifestyle.
- Respect the wildlife
Camping in the wilderness can bring fantastic wildlife-spotting opportunities. However, as enticing as it is to come close to the animals, it’s crucial to always keep a safe space from them for your and their safety. Much like you wouldn’t disturb the worms in your carefully manicured garden, it’s crucial not to disturb the native wildlife during your camping adventure.
Moreover, avoid attracting wildlife with food by feeding the animals and leaving food around your campsite. It’s a potential safety issue and introduces unnatural food into the animals’ diets.
- Use fire responsibly
Campfires are one of the most romanticised aspects of camping, conjuring images of friends gathered around the fire sharing stories, laughter, and beverages. However, while they can be essential to the camping experience, they can also cause devastating wildfires. This is why checking local regulations before heading off for a camping trip is critical.
For example, while campfires are allowed in some Queensland parks and forests, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service can impose a fire ban when there is no fire and rescue service in the area or when conditions indicate potential fires would be difficult to control. As such, avoid lighting or maintaining campfires on dry, windy days, as even a few glowing embers can start a wildfire.
Here are a few more considerations:
- Whenever allowed, use the fireplaces and fire rings provided by the campsites.
- In Queensland, all the wood within the parks is protected, so bring your own clean-milled firewood. Again, check camp regulations before going on your trip.
- Many Australian parks and forests provide on-site barbecues in camping and day-use areas. However, bringing your own fuel stove for cooking and heating is still a good idea.
If you plan to camp in Australia’s parks, local government websites will have comprehensive information to help you have a safe and enjoyable camping trip.
- Practice proper waste disposal
Of course, cleaning as you go and leaving no trace is at the heart of sustainable camping. This means taking everything you bring to the campsite when you leave. Before leaving, give your camp a clean sweep-through to ensure nothing gets left behind. If you can, leave the grounds even better than you found it.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Dispose of dishwater by pouring it into a six-inch hole away from your campsite is a generally accepted practice. However, ensure not to let any food particles in the hole, which can cause erosion and attract animals.
- Some food can have a lot of chemicals that can upset the ecosystem. As such, always use the provided toilets or wag bags when the former isn’t available.
You wouldn’t want to come to a campsite that hasn’t been adequately cleaned. So do your part in paying the practice forward.
While there are guidelines for sustainable camping, ultimately, it’s about making intentional choices when enjoying the outdoors. By following the tips above, you can enjoy the best of Australia’s breathtaking landscapes while helping ensure they remain vibrant and healthy for generations to come.