In honor of Earth Day and the month of April, we’re launching a new Conscious Camper Series. Every week this April we’ll publish a new article that focuses on camping responsibly and how you can help protect nature while enjoying it.
What Does it Mean to Be a Conscious Camper?
Being a conscious camper means finding ways to make your camping trips more sustainable, responsible, and eco friendly. From picking up any litter you find in your campsite to saving water on the road, a conscious camper does what they can to protect the planet.
Leave No Trace Principles
A great way to start becoming a responsible camper is to follow the Leave No Trace principles. Leave No Trace is a set of steps that both backcountry campers and RVers can do to help protect the environment. These small but effect steps can help keep the earth beautiful for everyone to enjoy. The 7 Leave No Trace Principles are:
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
Researching where you’re going ahead of time helps avoid problems. Pack appropriately for where you’re visiting, familiarize yourself with any regulations, and when possible schedule your trip to avoid high seasons where overcrowding could cause damage to nature.
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Ground
Keep natural areas healthy and undamaged by using existing trails and campsites or camping on durable types of terrain like gravel, rocks, and hard packed dirt. Keep your campsites small and aim to make the least amount of impact on nearby vegetation.
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
This is where the phrase “pack it in, pack it out” is important. Don’t leave waste behind at your campsite. Take all trash with you to dispose of when you get back to town. Leave your campsite cleaner than you found it. If you’re rig isn’t self-contained, burry all human waste in holes that are 6-8 inches deep and at least 200 feet from water. Cover and disguise the cathole when you’re done.
4. Minimize the Effects of Fire
Especially in dry places, fires can be very dangerous. To reduce the risk of wildfires when camping use established fire rings and keep fires small. For fuel, only use sticks you can find on the ground or purchase firewood from a local source. Make sure that fires are fully out before leaving. For more tips on fire safety, take a look at our article on camping during wildfire season.
5. Leave What You Find
We know nature is cool, but don’t take things with you. Don’t touch any cultural or historic structures or artifacts, and leave rocks and plants where they are so others can also enjoy them.
6. Respect Farm Animals and Wildlife
Watch animals from a distance and don’t follow or try to approach them. Store your food and trash securely and don’t feed the wildlife. Make sure your pets don’t run off chasing the animals, and be especially careful during seasons of nesting, mating, or raising young.
7. Be Considerate of Others
Finally, be kind to other visitors who are out enjoying nature. Yield to people on trails, don’t camp right next to others, keep pets in check, and don’t blast your music while hiking or camping.
Helping the Planet Earth Day and Every Day
While Earth Day is celebrated on April 22, you can help the planet all year round. How do you do that? By learning, sharing, and doing.
Learn about Earth Day and ways you can help the environment. Share the tips you find and help others protect nature as well. Teach your kids to be a conscious camper and take care of the earth. And even if it’s just a tiny bit, do what you can to reduce your carbon footprint and support organizations that conserve nature. We have a great article with all sorts of things you can do and places you can support. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Adopt an animal (symbolically) through a protection and conservation organization like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
- Donate money to organizations, or even just paying the entry fees to nature preserves and national/state parks.
- Volunteer at a national park, animal rescue, or conservation-based organization. You can even just pick up the litter you find while out camping.
- Recycle what you can. Sometimes it’s hard to find a recycling bin or center while on the road, but the extra effort taken to not throw things in the trash can help the planet.
There are plenty of ways you can become a conscious camper while you’re RVing. Below are some of a few easy ways to bring these themes into your travels. And check out our articles on eco travel and ways to leave the earth better for more tips.
Explore close to home and stay longer at your destination. RVing and driving sort of come as a package deal, but by not driving as much and staying longer at campgrounds you can cut down on your emissions and won’t use as much fuel. As a bonus, you’ll have more chances to learn about the local area!
Don’t use disposable items whenever possible. We know plastic utensils and paper plates are easy, but save those for times when you need to conserve water (like boondocking). When you’re set up in a campground, use reusable dishes and utensils to save space in landfills. When you do use disposable items, look for eco friendly and biodegradable versions.
Respect nature when camping. As we talked about earlier, follow Leave No Trace principles and clean up after your campsite, especially when boondocking.
Don’t waste water. Once you start RVing you quickly learn just how small those tanks are. Make an effort to save water by taking shorter showers and turning off the tap when brushing your teeth. Not only will you help save the planet, but it’s also fewer trips to the dump station. For more tips on how to save water while camping check out our article on water saving hacks.
Consider solar power on your rig. If you do a lot of boondocking, think about adding a solar setup to your rig so you don’t have to use a generator. We have tons of articles to help you figure out if solar is right for your rig including how much it costs, installing it, and everything you need to know about solar.
Help us celebrate Earth Day this month by putting some of these tips into practice. And check back every week for a new article on conscious camping!