Maximum camping fun with minimal environmental impact.
School’s out for summer, and with big question marks still hanging over international travel, families around the UK are opting to get away staycation style. For some that might mean visiting another city for a weekend jaunt, while others might give house-swapping a go for a longer break. Many, meanwhile, will opt for the great British institution of camping.
Camping doesn’t have to mean roughing it in the elements (unless you want it to!). The rise of glamping and an endless variety of outdoorsy gadgets means your adventure under canvas can be as luxe as you like. But at its heart camping is about one thing: getting back to nature. So whether you’re venturing boldly forth into the great outdoors or snuggling up in a soft blanket in a yurt down the road, it’s important to treat the environment with the respect it deserves. Here are our top tips for happy (eco-friendly) camping.
- Choose your campsite with care
There’s a huge choice of campsites in the UK, some of them with greener credentials than others. Check out greenercamping.org for the best options – every campsite featured has been carefully assessed for their sustainability, impact on the environment and opportunities for wildlife.
- Don’t go overboard buying new kit
Unless you’re planning on making camping a regular event, there’s no point forking out loads of money for brand new equipment that’ll only be used once or twice before it’s banished to the back of a cupboard forever – that’s just a waste of money and materials. Instead, see if you can borrow what you need from friends, or pick up some good quality second-hand gear on Gumtree or preloved.co.uk
- Make some meals in advance
Depending on where you’re camping you might find decent food options tricky to come by, or have to rely on overly-packaged (and overly-priced) items from small campsite stores. Make a hearty stew or casserole before you leave to have as a tasty first-night dinner. You’ll be glad of it once you’ve finished setting up camp!
- Stay on marked trails and paths
Woodland walks and scenic hikes will probably feature during your camping trip at some point, and they’re a wonderful way to really appreciate the beauty of the natural world. But stick to marked paths and avoid trampling areas where you’ll damage plants and wildlife habitats. Not sure where to walk? Check out the Ramblers Association website for hundreds of trails around the UK.
- Use eco-friendly gadgets
Unless you’re really roughing it you’ll probably want to bring some small home comforts with you, but make sure they’re not going to put unnecessary strain on the environment. Choose solar-powered gadgets instead of ones that rely on batteries, and reusable cook stoves instead of cheap disposable ones that can’t be recycled. A portable water filter is also a good idea – it’ll save you from having to buy bottled water. Check out our rundown of top eco gadgets for your next outdoor adventure for some inspiration.
- Avoid using chemicals
Some campsites will have designated shower blocks and wash stations, but if you’re going slightly more off-grid you’ll likely end up washing your plates and utensils (and yourself) in nearby waterways or in a tub which then gets dumped out onto the ground. As such, be mindful of the chemicals in any soaps and cleaning products you use. Go for natural cleaning products (or make your own) and dispose of soapy water away from water sources such as rivers and lakes.
- Light fires responsibly
First of all, check that fires are even permitted in the area where you’re camping. If they are, use your common sense – wildfires are more of a risk due to the hot dry conditions caused by climate change. If there are no rules about bringing your own firewood (or purchasing it onsite) use only branches and twigs that are already on the ground – never chop down trees or snap off branches. Position the fire away from tents and preferably in an already-established fire pit. Better yet, use a reusable barbecue trough (on legs) to hold the fire to avoid burning grass and scorching the earth.
- Leave no trace
This one is pretty self-explanatory but it always bears repeating. Leave nothing when you pack away that wasn’t there when you arrived. Rubbish, food, toys… Either make sure it’s properly disposed of at the correct facilities on-site, or take it with you and sort it at home.
The bottom line
Camping is a great way to escape the daily grind and enjoy some time in nature. Take steps to camp responsibly and you’ll be helping to keep the great outdoors happy and healthy, and ready to be appreciated by everyone for generations to come.
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