Monday, July 20, 2015

Waste-Free Camping

Three years ago, we camped at Bowdish Lake.   It was time to return, to turn off the electronics, and tune into nature.  We wanted to leave with memories and not leave any trash behind.

To pack... A reusable shopping bag for food, for clothing, for outdoor toys, for books and games, for bathroom and medical supplies.  It all got packed haphazardly and got sorted by use after we set up the site.  I don't know how we fit it all in the car!  (PSA: We finally used the air mattress I purchased well over a year ago.  Note to all: put it in the tent BEFORE you inflate it!)

Besides the tent, pillows, sleeping bags, sun block, bug spray, citronella candle, toys, books, games, and guitars, we needed food.  This was our kitchen:

Cloth and reusable plastic.
Cloth-line and Castille!
Seltzer cans block the wind from
our terra cotta citronella candle.

Waste-Free Kitchen:

Mess kit
3 cast-iron pans
metal fire pit grill
oven mitts
wood kept dry in lidded reusable large storage bin
coffee tin of dryer lint to start fires
tin with matches
Collapsible silicon bowls and cups
Steel kettle
French press
coffee scoop
cutting board
reusable utensils
reusable metal grill forks (marshmallows/hot dogs)
plastic to-go containers for eating and storage
cloth napkins
cloth table cloth
folding table
folding chairs
Castille soap
Recommend: paper shopping bags with handles to carry goods and fold up and reuse.
Recommend: scrubbing sponge!!!  We had a hard time cleaning cast iron pans with cloth napkins and I didn't bring salt to scrub with.

Fruit: bananas, peaches, tangerines, apples
Instant oatmeal (burned packaging)
popcorn maker
bell peppers (mesh reusable bag)
eggs (burned cardboard carton)
butter (burned wax paper)

Recyclable Kitchen:

Foil (for potatoes and saving food)
nuts (aluminum and cardboard)
dried fruit mix (reusable plastic)
peanut butter (glass, metal)
safflower oil (plastic container)
free-trade chocolate (paper, foil)
cinnamon graham crackers (burned cardboard)
distilled water (plastic jug)
bread (paper bag)
mini potatoes (plastic netting - saved for crafts and texture rubbings)
cold cans of seltzer (keeping food cold in cooler)

Waste-Generating Kitchen:

turkey bacon (plastic bag)
deli meat and cheese (plastic bags)
hot dogs (plastic bag)
rolls (plastic bag)
marshmallows (plastic bag)
ice (plastic bag)
baby wipes (Cleaned hands of marshmallow; wiped bird droppings off tent.  Used sparingly.)

As you can see, convenient meat-products were our downfall.  This is ironic, because we rarely eat meat but wanted something easy to cook on a fire.  Peanut butter and jelly would have been fine with me, but my 8 year old has decided she no longer likes it.  My partner did come up with a divine concoction: banana slices and mixed nuts cooked with butter in a cast iron skillet.  The tiny mixed potatoes cooked in 40 minutes.  Pierce them all with a fork first, then wrap them in heavy foil and leave them right on the fire.  We cooked the whole bag for dinner and reused the leftovers for home-fries both mornings.

What about second breakfast?

Here's our shameful bag of waste:

I should also mention the glow sticks and their packaging.  So, not totally waste-free, but getting close.  Far from the conveniences of home, we met great people, got close to nature, hiked, made art, swam in the lake, had a pond weed fight, saw a spider spin a web at night, and photographed at least 500 different mushrooms for later identification.  But that will be in a future blog...

Going camping?  NWF wants to know with a #campie (camp + selfie).  More info here.

Our trip in 2012.

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