Green Camping Tips

green camping

Spending time in our natural environment, specifically camping, is an activity Mrs. SPF and I have enjoyed for a number of years.  We relish the fresh air, natural wonders, wildlife, an open fire, the mosquitoes … okay, not the mosquitoes.  As part of our life philosophy we try to balance life with sustainable living so we practice green camping when we venture into the wilderness to enjoy the tranquillity of nature.

I have been camping for as long as I can remember. I recall camping with my Dad, with the Cub Scouts troop, canoe trips with the camp I attended and with my university pals (in November, in Ontario – brr!).  When I met Mrs. SPF I was delighted to learn that she had spent time every summer camping with her family – just more proof she was the gal for me.  As we were both raised in a similar fashion it was not surprise Mrs. SPF was familiar with green camping practices.  This meant that our camping together was going to be easy as we have similar views on how to leave a minimal impact on the earth while we spend time with it.

This past summer we went camping twice.  First, we went to a provincial park for 2 nights.  This was a test run for an upcoming folk festival I have attended for 26 years (Mrs. SPF’s 7th year).  We love to camp and both truly believe in practising green camping.

We usually write about how we balance personal finance and sustainability in our day-to-day life, in the city. This time I will share some green camping tips that take little effort but can truly make a positive impact on your camping experience and the camping experience of future generations.

Green Camping Tips

1) Use designated fire pits. Fires scar the earth and the places used previously for camp fires have less risk to spread out of control.  Sure, burning wood isn’t the “greenest” activity but really, what is camping without a campfire?

2) Common sense (which evades far too many people) dictates you leave the site as clean, if not cleaner, than you found it.

3) Always bring spare garbage and recycling bags.

4) If you need to buy net new gear, consider buying eco friendly products or products that have been recycled.  Consider freecycling as well.

5) Consider using a citronella based bug repellent instead of using DEET. You will smell much better even if you haven’t bathed!

6) Use camping dishes, or dishes from home – anything but disposable dishes.

7) Bring a bike.  Park your car and leave it in place while using your bike to get more exercise.

8) Try to use a tent, not a camper.  Tents can be produced with less resources than a large trailer, need less gas to haul and weigh less which will do less damage to the ground.

9) If you do intend to use a camper shop for your insurance online! We are big proponents of shopping online instead of driving all over the city comparing prices.

  • If you are looking for insurance quotes in Canada, click here as I highly recommend using Kanetix.ca so you can have their engine compare prices for you.
  • Our friends in the U.S. should check out Liberty Mutual for their RV insurance needs.

10) Don’t bring firewood with you.  Pests can travel in the bark which means you might be spreading an invasive species to a region ill prepared to deal with it.

11) When you do have a camp fire, keep it small.  Burning the forest down will ruin the experience.  And put the fire out each night – with water.  Don’t kill the buzz you got have a few pops in the evening hour by waking groggily to an inferno.

12) Limit showers. Everyone is going to smell at least a bit. Swim to remove dirt and odour. If you must shower (and on longer camping trips this is good hygiene) shower with a partner!

13) If you have a fire going, consider cooking on it with a grill or in it using tin foil or a Dutch oven .  Pressurized propane cylinders are very difficult to recycle.  If you do use a camping stove consider refillable fuel cannisters.

14) Buy and eat local food from the farmers market.  Prep food for your trip a few days in advance to support your local community businesses while eating delicious food.

15) Consider your noise pollution. One persons idea of low volume will not be the same as the camp site next to you.  Be civil, respectful and courteous.  Mrs. SPF and I recently had an on edge camping trip due to some obnoxious tweens who decided to play a radio in a radio free area.  Not cool.

16) Camp in designated areas and try to avoid setting up camp off the beaten path. The plants never did anything to you.

Green camping isn’t hard to do.  It really isn’t. I know there are many more green camping tips out there.

What green camping tips do you know of?


17 thoughts on “Green Camping Tips

  1. This is a great list. We also love to camp and do a fair bit of it in the summers.

    I found this great bug spray made of neem oil. It works really well. We always shower once we get back home. We usually don’t feel too dirty anyway.

    All cooking we do is on the designated fire pit. Grilled corn from the farmers market is delicious.

    1. I have heard mixed reactions to doing all cooking on the fire pit as fire smoke is not the best thing to add to the air (for example, wood burning fireplaces in Montreal have been banned!). But I do love the fire when I camp. I do my best to be “green” most of the time – but out site is about balance of life, finance and sustainability, we do not pretend to be “perfect” nor do we strive to be so.

  2. Wow this list has made me realize just how NOT green my camping practices are!
    My best tip for green camping would be to forget about all paper products (except toilet paper). Napkins, paper towels, plates and plastic forks and knives are completely unnecessary but seem to be the norm around here.

    1. It really isn’t that hard to pack up some plates. We have a whole set of older stainless steel pots and pans, mis-matched unbreakable plates, older cutlery and cooking utensils. It all fits neatly in a single milk crate that I lug out of the basement when we head off to camp.

  3. We go camping every summer on the Mogollon Rim in Arizona, it’s a beautiful place with lakes and ponderosa pine trees. I suppose we are fairly green as we have a tent and try to limit what we bring with us. As far as the showers I have to admit that we cheat on that one as a good friend lets us shower at his nearby cabin and visit for lunch and dinners!

  4. Camping is not something I do a lot and I admit when I do go I’m probably not the greenest person out there, but at least I can check off a few of the items on your list so I know I’m not the worst either!

    I did better than I thought I would actually!

      1. Well, I do use disposables when I find it more convenient. I’ve definitely done some camping when I was younger in the middle of nowhere that wasn’t a designated site (that’s real camping!), I’ve been guilty of a big fire or two, and if there is a shower nearby I’m usually one of the only people to use it. I just hate feeling dirty but I’ve actually mellowed on that in recent years a fair bit.

        It used to be when me and the guys would go up to my father’s camp for duck hunting that I’d be the only one to take a shower. Typically these days I’ll skip the shower too but I still don’t like the dirty feeling very much and I can’t wait to get one as soon as possible.

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