September 7, 2023
If you are an avid camper, you have probably seen and experienced the footprint humans can leave on the great outdoors. Interested in minimizing your footprint? Check out the tips below.
1. Plan Ahead
Figure out exactly where you are going and do a little research about the area. Are there any special concerns to take into account? Once you know where you will be going, plan your route using a trail map. Straying from pre‐made trails can damage natural areas and plants.
2. Pack Light
The more you take into the woods, the more you have to bring back. Take a moment to think about what gear you really need, and try to avoid dragging along extra items.
There’s a greater chance of leaving something behind if you pack up the whole house.
The smaller the better. If you are traveling with a lot of people, consider splitting up into smaller groups. Big groups of people make a larger physical impact as well as contributing to noise. When you are hiking, walk in a single file line to avoid harming flora and fauna.
Only camp in designated areas. There’s no need to create your own campsite when they already exist. Using previously made sites or flat areas with little plant coverage will help reduce your footprint.
When possible, use a camp stove instead of a campfire to make meals. Open fires can be hazardous, especially during a drought. If you do make a campfire, make a small one using wood that’s already dead, and when you are finished, make sure the fire is completely out and scatter cool ashes. If you are able to utilize previously established fire pans, mound fires, or fire rings, that’s your best option.
6. Reusable Plates and Utensils
Using reusable plates and utensils is a great way to reduce waste. Durable picnic plates and plastic silverware are washable and you can reuse them for every meal. In addition, bring along a few reusable bags and pick up trash around the campsite, even if it’s not yours.
7. Doing Your Business
Yes, the woods are expansive, but that doesn’t mean you should just go wherever you feel like it. If nature calls, make sure you are at least 200 feet from water sources, trails, and camps and bury it when you are finished. If you are washing dishes or yourself, the same 200 foot rule applies and use biodegradable soap. Latrines are a good idea if you will be camping in the same spot for a few days.
8. Leave Nature in Nature
Look all you want but don’t take it home. This applies to plants, rocks, historic artifacts and structures, and any other items you find. The only thing you should be taking with you is your gear and trash.
Enjoy wildlife from afar, it’s never a good or safe idea to approach any wildlife, and it’s definitely not a good idea to feed them as this could be dangerous to both of you.
Camping with pets? Keep them on a leash and at your side throughout the trip.
10. When You Go/Leave no Trace
When you leave your campsite, all signs of your presence should be removed. All of your trash should be picked up, anything you moved should be put back, and your camp should look just as it did when you arrived or better. Minimizing your footprint while camping can be a simple process; clean up after yourself and respect nature. Visit campnative.com to explore new campsites and give green camping a try.