Zero Waste Camping (16 Environmentally Friendly Tips)

Whenever we go camping it’s our goal to “leave no trace” behind. Not only is zero waste camping achievable, but it can also enhance your overall experience.

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, “In Canada, nearly 90 percent of single-use plastics end up in landfills, incinerators, lakes, parks and oceans.”

In the spirit of promoting mindfulness and sustainability, we’ll cover all your needs without generating unnecessary trash.

zero waste camping featured image piles of garbage

How to Pack a Zero Waste Camping Kit

Make Mother Nature proud! Here’s what you need to keep in mind when packing a zero waste camping kit.

Prioritize Reusable Items

By swapping out disposable items with their reusable counterparts, we can make camping a whole lot greener.

Here are a few items to swap out:

  • Cutlery, cups and dishware
  • Napkins
  • Straws
  • Plastic bags

Opt for Multi-Functional Gear

Next up: multi-functional gear. You know what they say – the more functions your gear has, the less waste you’ll produce (okay, maybe I just made that up).

Ditch Plastic Bags and Wraps

Say goodbye to plastic bags and wraps – opt for sustainable alternatives like beeswax wraps or silicone bags instead.

Create Your Own Toiletry Kit

  • Toothpaste: Use toothpaste tablets or make your own DIY paste.
  • Cleansers: Opt for solid soap bars or shampoo bars rather than liquid options in plastic bottles.
  • Towels: Choose quick-drying microfiber towels which are lightweight and take up minimal space in your bag.
zero waste toiletries

Choose Reusable Food Containers and Utensils

As mentioned above, reusable containers and utensils are your best friends.

TreeHugger has a great list of the best reusable food storage containers, so you can pack your meals without creating waste.

Bring Your Own Biodegradable Trash Bag

To maintain the pristine environment you found at the campsite, bring a biodegradable trash bag to dispose of any waste generated during your trip.

Reducing Food Waste: A Comprehensive Guide

Let’s talk about a crucial aspect of zero waste camping – reducing food waste. These are some super actionable tips to help you minimize your impact on the environment while enjoying delicious meals.

Meal Planning: The Key to Success

Planning meals strategically can help you conserve food and save space in your backpack or cooler. To do this, pick recipes and camping food that:

  1. Share ingredients.
  2. Have minimal packaging.

Portion Control & Repurposing Leftovers

Taking what you need helps avoid excess leftovers that will end up being thrown away (and attract unwanted critters).

Some people don’t like leftovers and I’ll never understand those people! Using food scraps to make a different meal is one of my favourite things to do.

At the very least, put your food scraps to good use by composting them and feeding them to your plants.

meal planning

Choosing Eco-Friendly Camping Gear

Let’s look at some eco-friendly camping essentials to use on your next adventure in the great outdoors!

Solar Powered Lights

You know what they say: “Let there be light.” With solar-powered lights, we can harness the power of the sun all night long!

No more disposable batteries or fuel-based lanterns – just pure, renewable energy from our favourite star!

Reusable Water Bottles & Containers

Bid farewell to single-use plastics (and reduce waste) by investing in a trusty reusable water bottle.

And don’t forget about food storage; opt for reusable containers and beeswax wraps to keep your meals fresh and plastic-free.

Eco-Conscious Sleeping Bags & Tents

A cozy night under the stars starts with an eco-friendly sleeping bag and tent.

Look for options made from recycled materials or those that use sustainable manufacturing processes.

reduce, reuse, recycle

Biodegradable Hygiene Products

Pack biodegradable soaps and toiletries, which break down naturally in the environment without harming plants or wildlife.

Eco-Friendly Cooking Gear & Utensils

Incorporate reusable utensils, plates, and cups into your kit instead of disposable alternatives.

When it comes to cooking camping food, you can even find eco-friendly cookware sets made from recycled materials or sustainably sourced wood.

Making the Most of Natural Resources

Mother Nature is a generous provider so why not make the most of her offerings?

Let’s explore some clever ways to utilize natural resources for a more sustainable and zero waste camping trip.

Harnessing Renewable Energy Sources

Like the sun. Portable solar chargers can keep your devices juiced up without relying on disposable batteries or fossil fuels.

Bonus: You’ll never fear power loss when in the middle of nowhere!

Collecting Rainwater for Various Uses

Rainwater collection might sound like an advanced survival skill, but it’s actually quite simple with some basic equipment.

A tarp and some containers can help you collect rainwater for drinking (after purification), cooking, or washing dishes and clothes. Look at you thriving in the great outdoors!

collecting rainwater

Cooking with Campfire Heat Instead of Fuel Stoves

There’s something magical about cooking over an open fire. Plus, using fallen branches and twigs as fuel is a more sustainable option than relying on gas stoves.

Utilizing Natural Cleaning Solutions

Cleaning up after meals doesn’t have to involve harsh chemicals or plastic packaging.

You can use natural alternatives like sand, leaves, or even soap nuts for scrubbing dishes and clothes during your camping trip.

Embracing the Art of Foraging (Responsibly)

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try your hand at foraging? Finding edible plants in the wild can add some excitement to your meals while reducing food waste from pre-packaged snacks.

However, it’s crucial to educate yourself about local flora before consuming anything – check out this handy guide on foraging basics.

Key Takeaway: 


Make the most of natural resources while camping (and in everyday life) by utilizing rainwater, cooking over a campfire, and using natural cleaning solutions. 

Harness renewable energy sources with portable solar chargers to keep devices charged without relying on disposable batteries or fossil fuels. 

Forage responsibly for edible plants in the wild to add excitement to meals and reduce food waste from pre-packaged snacks.


Minimizing Your Impact on the Environment

If we want to continue enjoying nature’s beauty, we have to start being more conscious of our impact on the environment.

Leave No Trace Principles

I live and breathe by these principles when both camping and in my everyday life. I highly recommend checking out the Leave No Trace website for more information.

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impact.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of other visitors.
Key Takeaway: 


In this article I talked about tips and tricks to reduce waste while camping, such as ditching single-use plastics and packing out all trash. 

I also emphasized the importance of following Leave No Trace principles to preserve nature’s beauty for future generations. 

So, by using reusable containers, and biodegradable products, sticking to established trails and campsites, and respecting wildlife and other visitors’ rights can help enjoy a waste-free camping trip.


FAQs in Relation to Zero Waste Camping

How to Be Environmentally Friendly When Camping

Follow the Leave No Trace principles. Plan ahead, camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave nature undisturbed, minimize campfire impact and respect wildlife and others for environmentally friendly camping.

What Are the 5 Principles of Zero Waste?

The five key principles of zero waste are:

1. Refuse unnecessary items or single-use products.
2. Reduce consumption by choosing long-lasting goods.
3. Reuse materials whenever possible to extend their life cycle.
4. Recycle responsibly by separating recyclable materials from non-recyclables.
5. Rot organic matter through composting processes.

How Does Zero Waste Help the Environment?

Achieving a zero-waste lifestyle helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with landfill decomposition processes while conserving valuable resources. It also minimizes plastic pollution affecting marine ecosystems globally.

To Sum It All Up…

Zero waste camping requires some planning and effort, but it’s worth it for both our planet and ourselves. We trust this guide has given you helpful information to make your next camping journey more eco-friendly.

Check out my next article and learn how to keep bees away from your campsite with 21 (mostly) “bee-friendly” ways.

How To Have A Bee-Free Campsite