“Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints!” ~ Chief Si’ ahl
Camping is a favorite summer pastime, whether it’s backcountry, car, or backyard. Most likely, most, if not all, of your outdoor recreational gear is made with some kind of plastic. Plastic is indeed a wunderkind of materials. Its lightness, strength, and ability to be molded into any form makes it ideal for many uses. The material makes our tents lightweight yet structurally sound, our coats water- and windproof, our sleeping bags warm and light, and our clothing wicking and quick drying. As a backcountry hiker and camper, I not only want these qualities, but I also need them to cover ground easily and quickly. Plastic therefore provides a valuable attribute.
So how can one become more environmentally friendly in outdoor recreation? Consider renting outdoor equipment first, and especially when you’re trying a new activity. If you are in the market to buy recreation equipment or clothing, search second-hand sites like Patagonia’s Worn Wear or REI’s Good & Used. Finally, when you are ready to purchase recreational gear, buy products made with recycled materials, provide a lifetime guarantee, and from companies with high ethical standards. Most outdoor companies focus on producing goods that are environmentally friendly since their economic prosperity relies on the health of natural ecosystems. Large outdoor companies such as Patagonia, The North Face, and Black Diamond, as well as smaller brands like Big Agnes, Vaude, and Marmot, are consistently rated the most eco-friendly.
I have all the recreational gear that I need right now, but when my outdoor toys do need replacing, I’m keeping an eye out on these enticing eco-friendly items:
Daypacks by Cotopaxi. A Certified B Corporation, Cotopaxi uses recycled scraps as material and donates to various charities.
Origin Headlamp by Eukarya. I have a headlamp already, but if I didn’t, I would immediately jump on this gem! Made with a wooden housing and a recycled aluminum frame, the Origin Headlamp is a rechargeable high-quality lamp that is an essential camping tool.
Tents and sleeping mattresses by Vaude. Vaude is one of the leading brands in eco-friendly camping gear and clothing. Vaude follows stringent ethical and environmental guidelines under its Green Shape label to rate the entire lifecycle of its equipment.
Backpacks by REI Co-op. I’ve been a fan of Osprey backpacks for now over two decades, but I’m intrigued with REI’s Traverse line of backpacking packs. They feature certified-recycled, Bluesign-approved ripstop nylon. Osprey and several other brands are also coming out with packs made with recycled materials and environmentally friendly coatings. In the end, the purchase boils down to fit and durability, which lends itself to a lifelong possession.
Bamboo dishware by Bamboo Land. Breakable dishware on a camping trip is not an option! Bamboo dishware is thus great for car or backyard camping, including picnics. Bamboo Land dishware is non-toxic and can be composted if damaged.
Travel Coffee Grinder by Blue Pine Specialty Cofee. Compact and portable, this stylish manual grinder is perfect for those coffee connoisseurs away from home.
More and more eco-friendly outdoor gear is coming onto the market. I highly recommend these two articles for a little eco-inspiration and lots of great research:
And remember, a good eco-friendly purchase is repairable, made to last, and ready to resale even after years of enjoyment.