For some people, camping is a way to get back to nature while for others it means bringing out the big toys and having some fun. For the people who bring out the big motor home equipped with satellite television, cook tops, refrigerators and other neat gadgets, camping can leave a negative impact on the environment. For the people who wish to camp and do so while leaving the smallest ecological footprint possible, there are some clever tricks to keeping your camping "green" and safe.
LED Flashlights and Lanterns
LED lights are the most energy efficient light source currently available for flashlights and lanterns. They produce a brighter sustained light while still using less battery power than a traditional flashlight. In fact quality LED flashlight can provide over 600 hours of light from one set of regular AA or AAA batteries. The combination of battery savings and bulb efficiency results in up to 90% less energy consumption than any other flashlight. LED lanterns use the same bulb technology making them a good idea for having around the campsite as well.
Wind-up LED flashlights are an even more environmentally-conscious light source. These are fairly easy to use. All you have to do is wind them up to create power creating friction and turn it on. These lights don't put out as strong of a light as a regular LED but they are an excellent option for short hiking excursions.
Don't use styrofoam cups while camping, no matter how convenient they may seem. The same goes for paper plates and disposable plastic forks. Instead, camp with reusable dishes and utensils and wash them after each use. This will drastically decrease the amount of trash you burn (bad for the enviro-gases pollute the air) or throw away (plastics don't biodegrade quickly, overfilling our landfills).
Think about what you do at home to be ecologically friendly and institute it on your camping trip. Keep paper bags or bins around for recycling. You can then easily take this stuff back with you and recycle it appropriately when you get home. Also, consider composting your trash in a bucket if you can.
Go Low -Tech
A tent and sleeping bag is far more environmentally friendly than a motor home or camper trailer. Motor homes require large amounts of fuel and energy to keep in operation every day. With the cost of energy and fuel where it is right now, your camping trip could cost you a lot less if you consider more green camping alternatives.
You can enjoy a true outdoor camping excursion more if you do it electricity free. Leave the games, portable TVs, and computers at home. Pack a cell phone or PDA in case of emergencies but turn it off or just plain leave it alone. Every little bit helps when it comes to reducing how much energy we consumer every year.
Unless you're allergic to smoke or have strong asthma symptoms, the campfire is still the most ecologically friendly way to cook food. Fueled grills require propane or electricity to operate. Campfire requires wood that can be easily picked-up off the forest floor and a light source. It may not be practical to cook everything you want on a fire but you can use it for some things to help reduce the amount of time you cook on a fueled cook stove.
Going on a green camping trip can actually be one of the more fun vacations you take this summer. Look into ways you can help make less of an impact on the environment the next time you venture out into your home state's mountain country or forested parks.
~Ben Anton, 2008
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