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Pack it in, Pack it out: Leave no trace & create less trash

Over the years that my husband and I have been camping we have seen some immaculately kept campgrounds, and others that have been trashed. When you pay for a reservation and at campground, you are usually paying because they have trash, water, and bathroom facilities that need to be cleaned and kept up. There are, however, a lot of campgrounds that don’t have these facilities and are relied on by the people using them to keep the grounds clean. Whatever you bring in, you are responsible for bringing out. The wrapper from energy bars and other snacks, napkins, toilet paper, and tissues all need to come out when you leave. Litter can pollute waterways, injure birds and wildlife, and can even lead to closures of the grounds. Have a plan for carrying waste items until you reach a trash receptacle. Always bring trash bags with you while camping and hiking to help alleviate some of these problems; plan ahead and be prepared. As hard and unappealing it may seem, you should always try to leave trails and campgrounds better than when you arrived, and pick up any trash you see while you’re enjoying the out doors.

Here is a helpful list of ways to leave less trash at Camp:

  1. Swap a case of plastic water bottles or a plastic jug of water for a refillable water container and reusable bottle
  2. Switch from plastic straws to reusable straws
  3. Instead of paper plates and plastic utensils, use a set of camp dishes or bring dishes from home
  4. Ditch plastic table cloths, paper towels, and paper napkins for reusable and washable versions
  5. Reuse containers for trash bins – Ice bags and snack containers make great trash cans when emptied
  6. Repackage food into reusable containers before you head out
  7. Avoid buying and bringing food with unnecessary packaging 
  8. Use a smaller trash receptacle – By using a smaller trash bag, we can be more aware of the amount of trash we create
  9. Rather than discardable single use propane tanks, use a larger refillable tank for stove fuel
  10. Keep a separate bag for recyclables and pack it out if not available where camping

In addition to keeping our parks clean and free of debris, you should also “leave only footprints and take only photos”. Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects where you find them. You should also always try to stay on designated trails and only start campfires where they are permitted. When you have a campfire also try to keep fires small, use fire wood from the area you are visiting as to not introduce non-native species, and be sure to put out the campfires completely by saturating with water and then scattering the coals.

Lastly, respect wildlife and be considerate of other visitors. We are all in this together and our public lands need to be protected now more than ever. If we all do our part, we can have these lands available for generations to come.

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