Whether in a car or in a tent, camping is becoming increasingly popular. No wonder, after all, balmy summer evenings with friends on sagging fishing chairs are pure freedom in the third generation. A cool drink, the smell of grilled food and the summer season has begun. And even at breakfast on your own pitch, no one has to worry about contagion or minimum distance.
Car full, map out and off you go on your journey to your own home - disposable barbecue, dry shampoo from a can and plenty of water bottles in your luggage. Sustainable? That's not what it looks like. And that's despite the fact that spending the night in the open air is virtually predestined for an ecologically valuable trip.
With the following tricks you will not only save unnecessary waste on your next adventure in the wilderness or at the campsite, but also save your wallet.
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1. pack only what is necessary
Sustainable travel is also called "soft tourism" in professional circles. Gentle because protecting nature and being mindful in it are on the agenda. Meanwhile, not only travelers but also restaurants and hotels have started a small green revolution. Which ideas to the lasting tourism still belong, you canread here.
So why not make your own backpack a little lighter? After all, every extra kilo in your car increases your fuel consumption. The keyword here is definitely: preparation. So, check the weather forecast and take one (!) item with you for all indicated eventualities. Less is more here again, after all, you're going into nature and it forgives even three days in a row the same T-shirt. And also, if you have decided for the safe camping site, you can confidently switch down a glamour stage and leave unnecessary ballast at home.
If the classic travel map takes up too much space (and travel budget), just turn to your smartphone and download an offline map for the route. It's not as stylish, but it will still take you to your destination. If you're a real bookworm, buying an e-book reader can also be worthwhile in the long term, although of course there's nothing wrong with second-hand books from old phone booths or exchanged with friends.
2. take and store food without plastic
In any case, there is an absolute potential for waste when it comes to camping. Nature as a destination should not suffer from the trip, but should be respected and protected. This is difficult to reconcile with careless consumption. Fortunately, you can save quite a bit of waste when it comes to food: Fresh cooking, preferably in stainless steel pots, is not only good for the environment, but also clearly the healthier alternative to canned ravioli and boxed pasta. Tips on how to avoid unnecessary packaging for food and drink can befound here: .
So, as with packing a suitcase (room), the same applies here: Preparation is the key to lasting success! Buy dry basics like noodles, rice, quinoa or couscous beforehand, they are half the battle when it comes to food. If you've been to the unpackaged store, you can take the products right away in the cans or bags from your shopping. And you can also put muesli and small snacks back in the good old canning jar. Plus, when the containers are empty, you can refill them on the go.
For everything else and for hiking trips, you can use stainless steel or wheat straw cans. In some markets and restaurants, you can even have products filled directly into them, so just ask when you visit the cheese or meat counter. A space-saving alternative to cans is oilcloth and bread bags instead of aluminum foil. Speaking of aluminum: Unfortunately, disposable grills made of aluminum are anything but sustainable. For outdoor barbecues, it's better to look for public places - leaving them in an appropriate condition goes without saying. Try to pay attention also on the way to the correct garbage separation . Especially for barbecue charcoal and glass there are special garbage cans at many campsites for proper disposal.
Also take enough of your own cutlery and crockery with you or equip yourself with light alternatives, for example made of bamboo. Cloth napkins avoid cluttered kitchen roll consumption. Also a good cutting board should not be missing on trips of course, after all, the vegetables also want to be chopped. Cork or wood are good and environmentally friendly solutions.
3. plastic-free drinking when camping
Drinks don't have to fall victim to the waste spirit either. Stainless steel thermos bottles are a sturdy and sustainable option for environmentally friendly drinking, and reusable cups not only keep coffee and tea warm, but also significantly reduce your plastic consumption. You can enjoy virtually any drink from the cups in an uncomplicated and sustainable way, and the bottles are also happy to keep cool spritzers cold for some time on a hiking trip. When it comes to coffee, the most environmentally friendly alternative to the to-go solution is clearly a French press. We can say from our own experience that it not only adds style to your breakfast, but also brings out the aroma of good coffee perfectly.
In Germany, of course, you can safely drink water from the tap. However, if the lime content is too high in certain regions, or if you are traveling abroad, you can use a water filter. To be on the safe side, it's best to go to a specialty store and ask for advice on the strength of the filter. If you plan to spend several days in one place in the wilderness, then buy your water for drinking in canisters that can be recycled. This way you can forget about plastic bottles.
For some years now, the volunteer-run "Refill" system has also been established in Germany: Restaurants, stores or other businesses provide their tap water free of charge to help combat high plastic consumption. Maybe one of the many stations is on your route? You can recognize them by a blue sticker on the door.
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4. sustainable shopping while camping
If you can't avoid shopping during your trip, then again you should not miss a fresh net and a cloth bag. With them you can easily make your shopping plastic-free. If possible, buy regional and seasonal products in stores, on the weekly market or on the camping site, then your food will be even more sustainable (and also tastier), because the cultivation of the products saves some amounts of CO2.
Tip: Before you go shopping, think about what you really need. We tend to dispose of food that no longer makes the perfect impression on the outside. Grilling stale bread, a smoothie made from that overripe banana, or a delicious white wine sauce made from that stale drippings? Camping is perfect for getting creative with leftovers! Also, when cooking, always consider whether it really has to be the elaborate sauce with the long list of ingredients, or whether a simpler version won't do (planned in advance, it also saves space in the car).
5. wash dishes and laundry plastic-free
Liquids are not exactly light luggage. Reason enough to think about alternatives for washing dishes and laundry. In any case, you don't have to buy everything you take with you when you're on the road. So once again, you can use jars or other containers that save space. If you want to do it sustainably, you can make your own washing-up liquid and washing powder. Biodegradable alternatives can also be a solution for those who don't want to rely on the vinegar-baking powder combination. In addition, you should go for organic certified detergents that don't put toxic substances or microplastics into the environment.
Sink brushes made of wood or bamboo are not only suitablein your own kitchen, but are also super practical when traveling. Cloth rags for washing up (can also be easily sewn yourself!) simply replace sponges that go into the trash can after a while. Take one or two dish towels with you and you won't be tempted to use disposable items for cleaning and washing up.
6. ecological personal hygiene and sustainable toilet use
Personal care products probably take up some of the most space in your luggage. Sustainable alternatives such as curd soap, solid shampoo or hair soap from drugstores and non-packaging stores come in handy here, preferably packaged in stainless steel or wood. If you're not quite as eager to try, you can also refill the travel sizes from your last trip, so you don't have to buy new bottles. And dry shampoo can also be easily replaced in a sustainable way - with flour, for example.
Today, there are several alternatives to conventional spray deodorants: Especially deodorant from a jar can be found more and more on store shelves and also in drugstores. If you want, you can also make your own solution against body odor before your trip. For dental care, brushes made of bamboo and tooth powder or tablets are a good choice, which can also save on ballast at the same time.
As already mentioned, styling can be left out when camping. If you still don't want to do without make-up removal in the evening or face cleansing with a cloth, you can use pads made of microfiber. They can be quickly cleaned with soap and water while on the road and then washed in the machine at home. If you do have conventional care products with you, make sure that they are environmentally friendly and do not contain any microplastics, for example, which you introduce into the cycle when washing or showering. Here, too, the range in drugstores is large and not much more expensive than comparable products.
When using the toilet in your own camping vehicle, proper disposal of waste and gray water should be a matter of course. If you are completely out in nature, then you should also do your business sustainably. So, dig a hole and close it again afterwards. Please take toilet paper with you and dispose of it later.
7. correct waste separation when camping
Again, it is important to distinguish between camping alone in the wilderness and camping on a campground. If you have preferred the wilderness, then the waste is of course 100% your business. Proper waste separation is therefore the be-all and end-all - at least residual waste and packaging should have their own bag. You can then dispose of it at a rest area or campsite along the route. If the place of arrival is not yet properly equipped (yes, there are unfortunately also some of these), then dispose of your waste properly at home.
On campsites, the separation of waste is not necessarily made easy for vacationers, as already indicated. Separate garbage cans or containers are not self-evident and the waste separation becomes so gladly times the unnecessary annoyance. Here, too, your own bags can work wonders: At the very least, you can dispose of recyclable packaging in nearby containers during a walk, at best. You absolutely want to camp on a site, but at the same time attach great importance to environmental protection? Then look for sustainable campsites! They are committed to conserving resources and combining a vacation with the balance of nature, so separating waste is a top priority at these sites. By the way, fresh organic goods in the store are available on top, without paying more for the place!
How easy is it to reduce waste while camping?
With the right preparation, easier than you might think. If you give some thought to how you want to spend the next few days before your trip, you can save quite a bit of (plastic) waste. Restricting doesn't have to be, of course, so again look individually at what alternatives suit you - every little step makes your vacation more sustainable!
The place of clothes, food packaging and tubes from the bathroom could then be well reserved for your bike, by the way, with which you explore the surroundings of your place even more environmentally friendly. So: try, study and make your camping trip this year a soft (and regional) dream vacation.