What is eco camping?

Written by Grant Ellis on 24th June 2021

Our holidays and weekend getaways shouldn’t cost the Earth, and an increasing number of us are keen to make greener choices when it comes to trips away. Fortunately, with an emphasis on self-sufficiency, smart use of space and leaving no trace, camping and caravanning tend to go naturally with the idea of eco-friendly, holidaying.

So how do you camp in an environmentally friendly way? From your choice of tent through to streamlining your ‘what to take camping’ list, here are our practical tips for making the idea of eco camping a reality. 

How do you camp environmentally friendly?

For responsible, eco camping, these principles are a useful starting point:

Travel planning: think local 

The freedom to explore is one of the best things about camping and caravanning. However, a memorable break doesn’t have to involve an epic car journey. Start by researching local options when planning your trip. It can massively reduce your carbon footprint, and it’s also an excellent way to uncover hidden gems on your doorstep. 

Leave unnecessary items at home

This is especially true of technology. A family-sized load of laptops, tablets and portable consoles calls for lots of associated paraphernalia (e.g. wires and charging packs). It might not go down well at first, but if you can swap all of those power-hungry devices for a deck of cards and boardgame, it can be a much more fun (and sustainable) experience.

Follow the campsite rules

The list of do’s and don’ts at sites are usually as much about environmental responsibility as it is about ensuring a pleasant stay for everyone. Examples include waste disposal, use of recycling facilities, cleaning up before you leave, and rules on where to light fires and BBQs to avoid vegetation damage.   

What can you bring?

Are tents eco-friendly?

Unless you opt for a canvas tent or teepee, most tents are made from synthetic material. However, so long as you choose a tent that’s likely to meet your needs for years to come, it’s easy to make an environmentally responsible choice. Tip: brands such as Vaude, Big Agnes and The North Face specialise in responsible sourcing and the use of recycled materials in their tent production. 

A huge tent that’s difficult to put up can easily put you off future trips. Opt for one that’s roomy enough to move around in but not too big for the number of people camping. To deal with accidental tears, a tent and groundsheet repair kit costs around £10, and can significantly increase your tent’s lifespan. 

Avoid single-use items 

Unless the site advises otherwise, mains supplied water on UK campsites is perfectly drinkable. So instead of buying plastic bottles of water, use refillable flasks. For storing and transporting food, opt for air-tight tubs instead of cling film. For pans, plates and cutlery, the starting point should be to see what you have at home already rather than automatically going out to buy ‘camping friendly’ items. 

Eco-friendly fuel 

Increasingly, sites are offering sustainably sourced logs to guests as a greener alternative to gas canisters. If you’re interested in a burner, take a look at the BioLite CampStove 2. As well as a cooking stove, this product also converts excess energy into power for charging. 

Go for solar options 

For clean, renewable energy, solar power is pretty much unbeatable, and you don’t need Mediterranean levels of sunshine for it to work. Solar shower bags, torches, power banks and even cool boxes can all help you to cover the camping essentials while keeping your carbon footprint as small as possible. 

Borrow or rent equipment 

Especially if you’re new to camping or only get out and about occasionally, borrowing equipment is an eco-friendly (and cheaper!) alternative to buying. Also, some sites offer pre-pitched tents, teepees, and yurts: another convenient way to camp without acquiring lots of extra ‘stuff. 

Whilst you’re there…

Whether you’re on-site or out and about, it’s important to follow the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles. This includes planning ahead of your trip, disposing of waste properly, leaving what you find, keeping to marked paths, respecting wildlife and being considerate of other visitors. 

Is caravanning environmentally friendly?

One German study showed that hotel accommodation releases up to ten times more CO2 per person per night compared to a campsite or motor caravan pitch. So if you are committed to eco-friendly holidaying, caravanning is up there as one of the most responsible options.

But what about the argument that a caravan demands a petrol-guzzling vehicle? With the arrival of highly capable hybrid SUVs, things are changing massively for the better. And as our recent electric towing guide highlighted, it’s only a matter of time until fully electric tow-friendly cars reach the mainstream. 

Now that restrictions have lifted, we hope you’re all set for a relaxing, green getaway. However, for complete peace of mind before you go, don’t forget to check out Shield’s camping insurance and caravan insurance, to make sure you secure the essential protection before your trip.

Contact our Shield Total Insurance expert helpline today at 0800 393 966 for all your questions and queries, or connect with us online to find out more about camping insurance quotes.

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