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Reducing single-use Plastic & Waste when Camping & Hiking

Camping is possibly the best way of getting back to nature yet seems to encourage the use of single use throwaway items for convenience which doesn’t sit right at all! This year has thankfully seen the world’s population seemingly wake up to the madness of single-use plastic so I thought it time to offer a few pointers to help you release the choke-hold it has over us, especially during our nature time away from home conveniences.

See below for the three main areas you might want to improve regarding plastic and single-use in your camping (and day to day) lives:

 

Cooking:

If a recipe calls for a zip-lock bag to help you mix things mess free, remember that the same can be achieved by shaking a click-top tub but at least the tub can be rinsed out for the next omelette etc.

 

For ways to reduce your reliance on aluminium foil check out our page on Convenient Foil-Packet recipes (and how to make them WITHOUT foil). It turns out foil is not only wasteful but incredibly bad for your health too so worth ditching either way!

 

Repurpose some existing waste like TicTac pots for bringing spices, use empty lip-balm or mint tins to store things, old hand cream/sanitiser bottles for bringing a little of your favourite shampoo from the big bottle at home, and whatever else tiny pots and packets you can think of that would otherwise just go in your bin...

 

Cleaning:

Set up a hand washing/washing up station using a collapsible bowl like this one from Terra Hiker and castile soap instead of using a billion wet wipes.

A solar shower is a great way to have warm water on tap in the wilds, on a sunny day of course! (if not sunny fill with warm water instead to still make use of the shower head arrangement...)

Before we had the plumbing sorted in Waki when we first bought her we made use of a Camelbak hung above the sink for the closest thing to running water.

 

TIP: Clean the food off of your bowls and eating utensils BEFORE IT DRIES for a much easier time washing them up: a quick rinse in a stream/with a squirt of water or a wipe down with a bundle of grass generally does the trick until you’re ready to do a proper job later. Pre-cleaning this way also helps you to make the most of a finite water supply by not having a bowl full of greasy food debris to deal with, just rinse your almost clean plates in suds to finish!

 

Inevitably you're going to create some waste that needs bringing home so why not make the switch to biodegradable bin bags the help it all break down properly when it goes to landfill?

Ethical Superstore have plenty of choice so you can find the bags that work for you>

 

Eating & drinking:

I'll assume you already see the insanity of using throwaway plastic and paper plates and cups for camping (and parties for that matter!), please don’t do that anymore. 

Nobody actually enjoys using a plastic fork, and hearing the inevitable snap of one of the tines as you attempt to skewer that bit of meat for the umpteenth time – better to opt for a reliable stainless eating set to start with.

 

Enamel plates are hard wearing, survive a good bashing and are also relatively lightweight. When your plastic set will have cracked or melted in some unfortunate campfire/hot utensil related incident an enamel set will still be performing well.

 

The same goes for cups – an enamel mug can be used to heat a single portion of water if that’s all you need, or to reheat a forgotten coffee (when camping ultra lightweight on the bike we tend to forego the bulky kettle since the mugs serve the same purpose).

I also find that metal mugs keep drinks cooler (if kept in the shade) so they work equally well for enjoying a portion of cider or the like.

Have a reusable water bottle that can be topped up from larger water carriers instead of bringing several multi-packs of annoying single-use plastic bottles that will have you drowning in empty containers by the end of the first day.

The Bobble water bottle boasts an in-built filter for turning the funkiest tap or tablet-purified water into delicious spring freshness. Ryan's loving his and that's coming from someone who would only drink tap water if it had squash mixed in!

The Surviva-Pure water canteen by Webtex goes a step further and can even make standing water safe to drink without boiling or purifying - capable of removing dangerous chemicals and organisms like Cryptosporidium!

 

You’ll save money!

If the moral aspect isn’t convincing, the money side should be - even if not single-use, plastic items generally need replacing more often than their harder wearing counterparts. Bottled water also costs a surprising amount compared to simply filling up a single large container on site or from home.

 

What do you think? Leave us a comment or any tips of your own in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you!

 

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Sarah is a UK artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more


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