Take only memories, leave only footprints (not plastic waste!)
What better time to get outdoors and enjoy nature?
We humans benefit so much from experiencing our wild environment, but does our wild environment benefit from us?
Camping, glamping, or just getting outdoors for the day
Whether you’re a camper, a “glamper,” or a day-user, nothing beats a trip to one of our many national parks, forests, or monuments to enjoy the most spectacular displays of nature the US has to offer.
Can’t get away to a national park? Visiting a local state or regional park, or a nature preserve can also offer a great way to get outside, reconnect with nature, and enjoy a re-balancing retreat in the wilderness.
While we are hungry to get outdoors to use nature to balance ourselves, how we impact nature and the fragile ecological balance with our actions is often overlooked. Oftentimes, we don’t want to waste time with complex cooking or cleaning, so we unconsciously reach for the stack of disposable cups, single-use plastic utensils, and flats of water bottles in our provisioning.
If this describes you… you’re clearly not alone.
Convenience vs. positive action
Actually, six out of ten park visitors are unaware of the waste issues facing our parks. When surveyed, 84% of visitors said they would like to be part of the change to reduce trash, but many are not sure how to help.
Over 100 million pounds of trash is disposed of annually within the national parks. That’s enough garbage to fill the statue of liberty 1,800 times EACH YEAR.
Plastic bottles, paper cups, plastic bags, food, and food wrappers are among the most common items found in trash bins throughout the parks. All of these things could be swapped for re-usable, if nature-loving guests are willing to make the change.
There are a whole lot of people still opting for disposable options over re-usable.
Remember, there is power in numbers, and it takes all of us doing our part.
See this infographic prepared by Subaru for the NCAP.
How can we continue in this way? The answer is: We can’t. This is not sustainable.
No more excuses
There is really no room for excuses anymore for continuing to use single-use plastic items when there are a plethora of high-quality, reasonably-priced, readily-available reusable products on the market today.
The solution is at our fingertips. It’s not difficult to adjust to using reusable products, it simply takes awareness, desire, and creating new habits that are in line with sustainability and a long-term view of natural resources.
With a bit of planning and consciousness, it’s easy to prepare for, and execute, a low impact camping or outdoors trip. And, doesn’t it make sense to pay the utmost respect to nature when you are in nature, enjoying it?
John Muir, the father of our national parks, wrote “Man must be made conscious of his origin as a child of Nature. Brought into the right relationship with the wilderness he would see that he was not a separate entity endowed with a divine right to subdue his fellow creatures and destroy the common heritage, but rather an integral part of a harmonious whole. He would see that his appropriation of earth's resources beyond his personal needs would only bring imbalance and beget ultimate loss and poverty for all.”
We are not separate from nature.
Everything we do impacts nature and its creatures.
We can either exploit nature, opting for our own needs for ease and convenience, which is unsustainable and brings imbalance and “poverty for all,” or we can use our resources wisely, seeing ourselves as part of the delicate balance of nature and acting accordingly, ensuring the health and longevity of our parks for the enjoyment of generations to come.
Remember: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, - we borrow it from our children.” –Ancient Proverb
Reducing your eco-impact is not complicated. It requires a small investment up front but actually saves money in the long run.
These suggestions apply to camping and outdoor adventure, as well as day-to-day actions that you can take to reduce your footprint everywhere you go.
Here are 8 items that you can replace for single-use plastic to reduce your environmental footprint in the outdoors.
A stack of reusable cups takes up very little space, and can be as easily packed as a stack of disposable cups… perhaps even less since you only need to pack one per person.
HaloVino takes this use-of-space to the next level with its two-part nesting design. Cut your space use in half when it comes to packing cups, and make it easy, convenient, and lightweight for each camper to always carry their own reusable cup in their day pack, or even a hip fanny pack.
HaloVino tumblers are shaped perfectly for wine so you can enjoy your favorite bottle around the campfire without sacrificing flavor, but it also works great for beer, juice, water, and other beverages.
When camping, multi-use everything is a must, and HaloVino tumblers save space while offering everyone what they need in a reusable cup.
Bringing travel coffee cups is also a great idea for hot chocolate, coffee, and tea since HaloVino is perfect for almost anything besides serving hot drinks.
Everyone loves a good hot drink upon waking to the cooler morning air, especially when camping, and travel mugs help keep those drinks warm while reducing waste.
By this time, everyone should really have a personal water bottle that goes everywhere with them.
Single-use plastic water bottles should be used as the exception, not the daily norm.
Insulated water bottles are key, especially when camping and exploring the great outdoors, as these will keep water chilled all day.
Utensils may be the easiest of all dishes to store and clean. They take up virtually no space and require minutes to wash.
Each camper should have their own set to use at every meal. Campers can also carry this on-the-go elsewhere to reduce the need for plastic cutlery at fast food restaurants, in airports, and eating on the road.
These are a few great options to choose from:
- Metal with a plastic carrying case
- Bamboo with a case
- Two sets of metal silverware in a zippered nylon case
- This one even comes with a metal straw, and is very colorful!
Packaging and zip locks
Single serving bags of snacks might be convenient but produce more garbage to dispose of. Plus, it’s not economical. Buy large bags, value size packs, and bulk items to reduce waste.
If you use zip lock bags to pack out your snacks and lunches, label campers’ names on them and re-use them throughout your trip. Zip locks can easily be turned inside out to rinse and dry to be used the following day.
Even better, invest in reusable zip-locks that can be used for years! These are perfect for taking snacks on the go and packing lunches throughout the year.
HaloVino totes work great as re-useable zip locks, as well as leak-proof bags for your used HaloVino (COMING SOON).
Plates and bowls are easy enough to pack and wash after meals. Try something like this. They look like paper plates but are actually washable and reusable.
If you do need to pack any disposable items, paper is always preferable to plastic. Paper plates that have no coating on them can even be re-used as fire kindling for the evening’s campfire.
Styrofoam is not acceptable anywhere, especially out in nature. Don’t be swayed by the cost savings of Styrofoam.
Green-mom tells us: "Styrofoam is non-biodegradable and appears to last forever. It’s resistant to photolysis, or the breaking down of materials by photons originating from light. This, combined with the fact that Styrofoam floats, means that large amounts of polystyrene have accumulated along coastlines and waterways around the world. It is considered a major component of marine debris."
Coolers can last a lifetime if taken care of. Invest in a high-quality cooler that keeps food cold for days.
If you have used Styrofoam coolers in the past to transport your refrigerated food, consider that a thing of the past.
Repeat after me. No. More. Styrofoam.
Even Igloo has ditched the unfriendly material and turned to make biodegradable coolers. Check it out!
Did you know that you can even purchase biodegradable, earth-friendly garbage bags?
If you plan ahead for your camping trip with respect to the environment in mind, you will likely not have much garbage to throw away. Perhaps you only fill a garbage bag or two during your entire trip.
If you can take your trash out with you, rather than leaving it for the Rangers to deal with, you are really taking responsibility for your impact.
Good job, you!
If you must leave it behind, at least you can feel good about producing the minimal amount possible.
And, (obviously) recycle
Reducing waste by using reusable products is always the first and best step to reducing your environmental impact.
If you do need to use any recyclable plastic, aluminum, or glass (ahem, wine bottles?) be sure to keep it separate from your garbage, and put it in the appropriate receptacle… even if that means taking it out with you.
Used propane and butane canisters always need to be recycled.
Be one with nature, and do your part to reduce the footprint you leave behind
HaloVino is one item that can help you and your group of campers be more green this summer. There are so many simple ways to reduce your environmental impact, all it takes is the commitment to actually do it.
Awareness is the first step. Now you know.
Next, use this checklist and go purchase items for your summer outdoors travel adventures.
Don’t even purchase those single-use plastics this year.
Lastly, use those reusable items in nature, and give yourself a pat on the back (and an extra glass of wine in your HaloVino) for truly respecting nature, and giving back to it what it gives to you!
Cheers to that!