If you are planning to go camping with your family and friends this year, read the following tips on how you can pack for a more eco-friendly trip.
1. Pack Eco-friendly snacks: Newman's Own Organic offers a great line of organic and nutritional snacks. They range from chocolate chip cookies to dried plums. You can also pack organic fruits bought from your supermarket or local farmers' market. If you plan to camp overnight, make sure you buy dehydrated foods because they do not spoil as easily.
2. Pack a water bottle for each camper: Nalgene bottles are BPA free and are great for camping trips. You can also refill any existing plastic water bottle with filtered water. Also, research the campsite in advance to ensure that they have a reliable water source. Otherwise, you will need to bring a portable water purification system.
3. Pack a flashlight: You can bring the flashlight that you have at home or purchase a used one online.
4. Borrow sleeping bags: Before you go out and buy sleeping bags, ask yourself how often do you plan to go camping? If this is your first experience, you should first borrow sleeping bags from friends. If you and your family enjoy the camping trip, then you can invest in new sleeping bags for future trips. There are a lot of people who think they would enjoy camping and wind up storing their camping gear in their attic or garage, after using their gear just once or twice. Down-filled bags are very warm but may be a bit expensive. The other option is a synthetic bag, which is quite durable but not as environmentally friendly.
5. Borrow a tent: Again, if you are new to camping, borrow a tent from your family or friends. Once you have gone camping at least twice and know that you will be camping more frequently, then purchase a tent. (You can also rent camping gear.)
6. Pack a first aid kit: A kit should contain at a minimum: bandages, gauze, medical tape, small scissors, disinfectant, antibiotic cream, antihistamine and insect repellent.
7. Pack a GPS or map: To make sure you don't get lost, research the camping site beforehand and bring a GPS or trail map with you on your camping trip (and know how to use it!).
8. Bring some extra paper bags: Use these to carry your trash so you don't wind up littering at the campsite. Some campsites do have their own waste baskets, but this keeps you prepared just in case.
9. Pack enough clothes: Dress in layers and remember to bring an extra set of clothes for each camping day.
10. Pack simple games: Bring one or two board games for night time gatherings with the kids. A deck of cards is small and easy to bring as well. For older kids, have each one of them pack one of their favorite books to read at night.
11. Bring a camera: To capture those special memories, remember to bring your camera.
12. Use the camping trip as an opportunity to educate your kids on how important it is to protect and respect nature. Remember to clean up after yourself and respect nature (do not take natural souvenirs with you, instead, leave nature alone and take photos of whatever you encounter). Enjoy the fresh air. It is an eye-opening experience.
-Judy Liu, Masters in Public Health eco-friendlyliving.com
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