As we go out in the nice weather, picnic in parks and hike along trails, let’s remember to be kind to our Earth.
Who else has been on a trail and hiked past plastic bottles, pop cans, beer bottles, plastic cutlery and plastic bags lying on the ground? Although some of these materials are recyclable and even biodegradable, by no means do they do so safely on their own.
We can definitely do better, so here is a simple guide to all things sustainable for the outdoors.
Keeping the pathways clean
On day-hikes, the biggest concern for waste is with food and water. Remember to leave no trace behind during your adventures. Here's a list of tips for your next hike:
- Pack snacks in reusable food containers (plastic Tupperware is still reusable). Go a step further and peel/cut your fruits and veggies, and make your own hiking trail mix/granola bars
- Bring reusable water bottles…anything will do as long as you’re not tempted to throw it out after use.
- Carry reusable cutlery - the bamboo set is our favourite
- Have an extra (ziploc) bag on you to collect all your waste - this includes cigarette butts too.
Special note during COVID times: account for your masks, don’t leave them behind on the trail!
On a campsite
In addition to reusables, you will want to choose unscented and biodegradable products when you're out on a campsite.
There are two main reasons for this: not to attract wildlife (and risk both yourself and the animals), and to not introduce toxic chemicals to the earth. Also note that biodegradable does not mean it's good for waterways. Certain ingredients can still upset aquatic ecosystems.
Here’s a packing list to add on to your day-hike list.
- Unscented, biodegradable dish soap - TUC liquid soap or Pure Glycerin Bar works really well here. Remember to dispose of wash water far from waterways/streams.
- Reusable cotton cloths that doubles as dish washing cloths
- Coconut scrubber for the rough stains. These are wonderful for packing as they dry quickly after use!
- Up-cycle an old coffee can to store food scraps. You may want to bring a second one for garbage.
- These seal tightly to reduce food odour that attracts critters - but still remember to store these where wildlife cannot get at them.
- Pack reusable cups and plates in a tub - doubles as handy reusable wash basin
- Bring a reusable water jug filled with potable water for drinking, cooking and cleaning - you can fill these up nearly anywhere.
- Many stores even have inexpensive refill stations. This was key for us when we had our cross-country trip last summer.
- Bamboo toothbrush, toothpaste tablets and plastic-free dental floss for the committed flossers.
- Fun fact: We discovered Change toothpaste on our camping trip when we stopped in Calgary, AB. Absolutely love this stuff, just bite and brush, no water required.
At the cabin/cottage
If you’re aiming for a longer trip in sheltered quarters, then we would add a few more items to the two lists above.
- Soaps bars for body, hand and other washing
- Shampoo & conditioner bars - smaller overall, great for packing light
- Biodegradable laundry soap
- Bamboo toilet paper thats safe for compost and septic systems - we got you there too!
- Upgrade your coffee can trash can to a DIY Compost Bin:
- Take the coffee can lid and drill small holes to the top - allows the waste to breathe.
- Buy an activated charcoal filter and cut it to the size of the lid.
- Hot glue the piece of activated charcoal film to the inside of the lid - reduces odours.
- Compost away!
Well, there you have it! The bit you can do for mother nature in return for it’s beauty and the serenity it provides you.