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How Green is Camping?

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 7 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Camping Green Carbon Footprint

Camping seems like a very green way to spend your holidays, and it can be, if it’s done right. Of course, some camping is greener than others – a tent more than a caravan, and hiking and camping trip more than driving, for example. But just how green is it really?

More than that, what steps can you take to ensure your own camping trip is as green as possible? It’s not as complex as you might imagine – most of it is a matter of simple common sense, much the same as in all other areas of life.

How Green Is A Camping Holiday?

If you go camping in the UK, even if you travel by car, your carbon footprint will be a lot lower than if you go abroad. As an example, a trip to Malaga, including flights and a hotel room using air conditioning, will emit 2.13 tonnes of CO2, which is roughly equivalent to one-quarter of the carbon emitted by the average British family in an entire year – an amount to make you think twice. Going camping can lower that drastically, to an average of 0.17 tonnes – that’s a huge difference.

More than that, you’ll find it’s a lot cheaper, which in these straitened economic times can only be a good thing. You also get to discover your own country, something far too few people actually do.

Other things affect the green quality of your trip – depending on how you reach the campsite (train or hiking will offer a much lower carbon footprint than travelling in a car loaded down with equipment), what type of fuel you use for cooking, what you do with your items and washing-up – these are all factors.

Making Your Camping Greener

Most of the steps to making your camping trip as green as possible are just things you should be doing automatically doing, anyway. For example, you should never leave litter, not even a cigarette butt, when you pack up your camp site. Put it all in a bag and dispose of it properly. It should go without saying that when you’re walking, don’t drop any litter – put it in your pocket and back to the camp site with you.

Recycle Your Camping Litter
Many campgrounds will have recycling bins for cardboard, glass and paper. Use them properly and be as environmentally friendly as possible. It only takes a few seconds, just as it does at home – being on holiday is no reason to stop that.

No Campfires! Use a Camping Stove Instead
Campfires are lovely, and traditionally part of the camping experience. But they’re not environmentally friendly. Better to use a camping gas stove, or even solid fuel, for cooking. If you’re going to make a fire, make sure it’s in a well-contained fire pit, and keep it as small as possible. As tempting as it is, don’t use fallen branches from the woods – they’re part of the local ecosystem; instead, bring your own firewood. Don’t burn plastic, or anything that contains chemicals – that’s simply pollution.

Camping Dishes and Dishwashing
Don’t use paper plates. You should have good camping plates, bowls, and cutlery. When you’re done, you can wash them (using eco-friendly detergent), but make sure you dispose of the water nowhere near rivers or streams – some campgrounds will have specific areas for this. For both dishwashing and showering, be sparing in your water usage.

If possible, don’t use your car to go camping. Obviously, that’s not always possible. But other methods of transport offer a lower carbon footprint, with hiking being the lowest of all, of course.

Even if you can’t manage that, the camping experience is still the most carbon-friendly holiday experience you can enjoy.

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