Written By: AnnaMai McDermott
Summer is a time for getting outdoors, exploring, realigning ourselves with nature, and taking time to be totally present. Whether you’re planning a #vanlife tour around the country or taking only what you can carry on your back, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind to minimize our impact and maximize the beauty.
Eco-camping is a concept that encourages environmentally friendly, mindful practices when staying the night in the great outdoors. As with all outdoor recreation, the golden rule is to Leave No Trace, and in many cases leaving the place better than you found it, by removing trash left behind by others.
When I think of eco or mindful camping, the first things that spring to mind are related to trash and location, being responsible with your waste and packing out any litter you generate. Choosing a spot that isn’t overcrowded is also key. Yes, there are some well-known camps out there that have gained quite the Instagram following, but even better yet, why not venture that bit further to find somewhere new that can sustainably support your stay.
Delving further into what it means to be an eco-friendly camper, we ought to turn our attention to the products we use. This one is a little trickier to keep track of, and can be easily overlooked. Often product labels use complex language, or even misleading marketing claims, that make it hard to recognize potential environmental harm. This issue affects our choices for sunscreens, bug sprays, and toothpastes, all of which are essential for a successful vacation in the outdoors!
Just think of the sparkling lakes and rivers that call out to us on a hot day, the last thing on our minds will be the chemical sunscreen we applied that morning. Harsh chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene often sneak their way into the fine print, hidden on the back of the bottle. When we dive into the lake, river or ocean, these toxic ingredients are released into our precious water sources, leaving a nasty oil slick in our wake.
So remember, when you’re planning out your gear list for the next backpacking, road trip, or micro-adventure, double check that only all-natural sunscreen and non-toxic products make their way into your pack!