Australia is Incredibly Beautiful, Let’s Keep It That WayClean Your Sh*t Up (literally)
Being an Environmentally Friendly Camper
My favourite thing to do in the world is go camping and be out in nature. Australia is such an incredible country with so much natural beauty and diversity it is impossible to describe, you need to see it for yourself. I have gone camping all my life and just recently returned from a 12 month trip around Australia living in a tent and it made me really sad on lots of occasions to see how some people treat our amazing country. A number of campsites we arrived at we found rubbish strewn everywhere. Toilet paper is another major problem; do people think it will just disappear if they leave it in the bush?? I wanted to write a post on how to be environmentally friendly when camping and minimise our footprint. We need to respect nature and think about the future. I know that probably 95% of people do the right thing, it is that 5% that ruin it for everyone. Maybe they don’t care but maybe they just don’t know the effect they are having. Every little thing makes a difference.
Here are some tips on how you can minimise your impact on the environment:
Taking Care of ‘Business’…
Please please please don’t leave toilet paper in the bush. I beg you! Just because you go behind that one big tree at the rest stop and there is toilet paper everywhere, doesn’t mean it is ok to add to it. Every bit counts!! Toilet paper takes 2 – 5 months to break down, so every time someone adds to it, it will be months before it is decomposed.
Tip: Keep a paper bag inside your car in an easily accessible place and put any used toilet paper in here. Either put it in the bin at the next stop or burn it on the campfire (who doesn’t love a good campfire!?). A small effort goes a long way.
If you don’t have a toilet with your camp set up and there are no facilities such as drop toilets in the area (ohhh don’t we all love drop toilets…) then you will need to make sure you have a little shovel in your car. If you need to go into the bush to ‘take care of business’ make sure you go at least 100 m from campsites and watercourses and dig a hole 15 – 20 cm deep (the deeper the better). Once you have done what you came to do, back fill the hole with the earth you dug out. It is OK to bury your toilet paper here also.
Dispose of Your Rubbish Correctly
Way to many times I have seen rubbish littered throughout campsites and people putting their rubbish bags in bins that are overfull. There is not much I can say about leaving rubbish on the ground, this is a personal choice and it is sad to know there are people in the world that don’t care about the mess they make or impact they have. What I can say is that even though you might think you are doing the right thing by putting your rubbish in an overfull bin, this will most likely just end up on the ground anyway because the birds and other animals will get into it looking for an easy meal and strew it everywhere. I admit that I myself am guilty of throwing organic matter such as orange peels into the bush, after doing some research I am feeling a bit guilty about this! Check out the table below….
|How Long Does It Take To Degrade?|
|Newspaper and toilet paper||2 – 5 months|
|Apple core||8 weeks|
|Orange peel and banana skins||2 years|
|Cigarette end||18 months to 500 years|
|Plastic bag||10 to 20 years|
|Aluminium can||80 – 200 years|
|Plastic bottle||450 years|
|Chewing gum||1 million years|
|Glass bottle||1 million years|
Recycling: It always helps to separate the rubbish you can recycle. You can take it home and put it in your own recycling bin or find one in the next town. Way better than going to landfill!
Camp Fire Etiquette
Now campfires are the best! I think that camping is just that much better when you can sit by a fire and drink a cold beer or have a wine. It relaxes me and makes me smile just thinking about it. As great as campfires are, they can be bad for the environment if you are careless with them. A few tips on campsite etiquette:
Make sure the fire is complexly extinguished before you leave – there is a possibility of starting a bush fire if you leave hot coals behind, it is also really dangerous if someone steps on them. Coals can stay hot for hours, even days. The best thing to do would be to bury your coals and douse them with water. You would be surprised how long these guys last, even with water poured over them, make sure they are completely out before leaving.
Please only make a fire in existing fire places – If you rock up to a camp spot and you see someone has had a fire previously, use the same fire pit. The most environmentally friendly camps have their own fire rings which are usually made from concrete. Please use these so you don’t leave another fire scar on the ground. Another option is to take your own fire pit. There are lots of good, relatively cheap ones out there (I have seen them at Bunnings) or you can even take a keg that has been cut in half.
Only use fallen dead wood – if you haven’t bought a bag of firewood and are collecting it yourself, only use fallen dead wood that can be collected away from your campsite. We found the best place to collect wood was in dried out river beds along the road. Too many times I have witnessed fellow campers break branches off alive trees and shrubs to throw in their fire. This makes me sad, the poor tree! Also it makes pretty useless firewood because these branches are ‘green’ and usually just smoke the place out. Plan ahead and collect wood before you arrive.
Washing Dishes or Clothes
Water is precious when out camping, especially if there is no tap around. Some of the most amazing places I have been camping there are zero facilities (half the reason why it is so good!). If you have an ocean or creek nearby it is really handy to use this water for your camping and hygiene needs, but please try and do it in an environmentally friendly way. Basically you should never be putting any soaps or detergents into waterways. Something I do when it comes to dishes is lick my plate as clean as possible (yep you are allowed to do this out bush!) and then use sand or grit in the creek to clean the rest. If I need to use detergent I use a bucket which I tip out well away from any water source. The best solution is to have a grey water tank but I know not everyone has this. When it comes to ‘showering’, a few baby wipes and a bit of extra deodorant can do the trick for a couple of days!
Do an Emu Bob at Your Campsite
Unfortunately, there will always be people out there that will do the wrong thing and leave rubbish around. Take 10 minutes to do a quick clean-up of the area. If you have kids and can get them involved that is even better. Make a game out of it to see who can collect the most rubbish. If we all do this it really will help over time because it is less likely for people to leave rubbish or toilet paper on the ground if the area is clean to start with. If there is lots of rubbish around the mentality of others is ‘oh it’s already messy, what is one more thing going to do?’ We can all make a difference!
Thank you to those of you (most of you) that really care about the environment and want to do the right thing. We only have one world and we need to protect it for ourselves and future generations. It is scientifically proven that being out in nature makes you happier, so let’s keep Australia beautiful.
PS. Please share this post! It would be awesome if as many people as possible can read it, especially people travelling to Australia from other countries. Also if you have any other tips or ideas on how to protect our environment please leave a comment below.
Win a BF Goodrich Pack
OK so I want to run a little competition, and this is mainly for those of you who are out camping right now or plan on a camping trip soon. Go to the AUS Camping Adventures Facebook Page, find this post and put a picture of you or your family picking up rubbish in a camping area, the bush or a roadside stop in the comments. I will check out the photos and pick a winner. The winner will get a BF Goodrich Pack which has an awesome cooler bag, a trucker hat, towel, beanie and a key ring. We used BF Goodrich All Terrain Tyres for our trip around Australia and didn’t have one flat!