Recently I had the pleasure of spending a beautiful fall day at the Quebec Girl Guides’ Camp Wa-Thik-Ane in Morin Heights just north of Montreal. I was able to support my daughter’s Guide Unit and do a little “green camping”* research for this blog post. I surveyed some girls that day to see what they thought could be done to help make Girl Guides camp a little greener. I knew for sure that girl greatness starts here.
Getting there – Campsites are often remote so driving 300+ vehicles up to the great outdoors is not an option. Instead, moving 400 people by bus to fall camp is a great way to tread lightly on Mother Earth.
Gearing up – Eco-friendly windproof and waterproof gear is hard to find because most waterproof sprays and fabrics are toxic to both people and the planet. Wearing nylon and polyester rain gear and rubber boots are a safer bet. Some woollen fabrics and most synthetic fleece blends repel water naturally.
What you definitely want to limit your exposure to, or avoid altogether, are: PTFE, PFOA, PFC, and most importantly PVC.
Eating green – Before you hit the trail be sure that you have planned, cooked, and packed your meals and snacks in well sealed reusable containers. Stainless steel is the best for the great outdoors. Individually wrapped treats means a lot of unnecessary packaging and probably more preservatives than your natural self needs. Eating local and organic food is also better for you and the earth, planning is a must.
Heart of your hearth: – Campfires also need to be green (and hopefully glowing with hot embers and flames).
- Never use lighter fluids, plastics, or treated wood in your fires. These are all toxic and pollutants.
- Don’t bring your own firewood. Insects can migrate and infest other regions in this manner.
- Spread out your search for wood and kindling so as to not deplete the resources of just one small area.
Clean and green – Even though you’re camping and happily getting your fingers into the dirt there is still a good chance that you’ll need to wash something at some point. What is important to remember is that all your soaps need to be 100% biodegradable. For your own well-being as well you will also want to make sure that there are no phthalates or parabens in your body care products.
Bug Off – bzzzzzzz Ahhh the great outdoors. Okay, sometimes ‘great’ is a little bit of an exaggeration especially when there are too many mosquitoes. What’s a Girl Guide to do? The solution? There are oodles of non toxic bug repellents out there on the market or you can make your own, here is some good information I found on homemade bug repellents. Be very wary of the commercial bug repellents that contain chemicals that are highly toxic!
Getting crafty – If you are a crafty camper, try to put a more natural spin on your arts and crafts to commemorate your getaway. Using twigs, leaves, and rocks to create something adds more meaning to your outdoor projects. Take a picture of your work and return it to the earth and bring home only a photograph and your memories!
Take only a picture, leave only a footprint: – This is the golden rule of the great outdoors. It’s hard sometimes to not want to take a little souvenir home from our visit, but remember what gets packed in with you needs to get packed out.
Camping green is really about getting deeply connected with our beautiful earth and remembering that everything we do has an impact on the world around us. In the Girl Guide promise we vow to take action for a better world, camping green empowers us to keep true to our word!
By guest blogger Joyce Shanks. Joyce is a certified holistic practitioner and President of eCause Canada Inc., whose mission is to provide simple, profitable, green fundraising for healthy profits and a healthy world. She can also be reached by email.
*”Green Camping” is about making little or no impact on our natural environment, by considering not only your campsite, but supplies, food and activities that can help you be carbon neutral as possible.
Got a minute? Answer WAGGGS‘ environmental questionnaire about the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal #7: Environmental Sustainability.