Category

Overnight Breaks

Overnight Breaks, Travel

The Best Sustainable Camping Gear & Tips For Eco-Friendly Campers

Got a camping trip planned for 2021? Let’s chat about eco-friendly sustainable camping gear and tips to help minimise your impact on the environment.

With restrictions in travel still expected to be in place this summer, and the advice continuing to be not to go abroad this year, it’s likely that the boom that we saw in camping last year will continue into 2021 and beyond.

The problem is that 2020 saw a rapid increase in environmental problems related to camping. So, as well as having a look at the best sustainable camping gear out there, as well as some tips for minimising your impact on the environment when you do camp.

In order to help support the running costs of Moral Fibres, this post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. Moral Fibres may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items that have been purchased through those links. In the interests of disclosure, some brands have also paid to be featured in this article. This is denoted by **. This income helps keep this site running.

The Best Sustainable Camping Gear

The most sustainable camping gear is always the stuff you already own or can borrow from a friend, or can buy secondhand. Ask your friends if you can borrow their gear, and if not, try Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, or Ebay. You might come across some real bargains.

If you can’t find what you want secondhand, then here are some suggestions of sustainable camping gear that you may want to invest in. I’ll try not to make it too in-tents…! :)

The Most Sustainable Tents

Vango recycled tent - part of my guide to sustainable camping gear

No camping trip is complete without a tent, as each trip starts and ends with a good-quality tent that can protect you from the elements. That’s why finding the right tent is a must before you head off on any adventure, be it wild camping, glamping, or a campsite holiday. Here are the most sustainable tent options for your camping trip:

Rent A Tent

If you can’t borrow a tent, or find one secondhand, then another super sustainable option is to rent a tent. Many companies allow you to hire one of their tents. Simply tell them when you are going camping, and how long your trip will be for, and they sent out a tent to you. They will even arrange collection when you get home. Other companies may allow you to pick up and drop off their tent.

Organisations to try include:

Refurbished Tents

If you’d rather buy your own tent, then try Camping Recycled. This is an initiative set up by Vango to sell tents and caravan and vehicle awnings that function as intended but can’t be sold through their retail partners. These include samples, demo kits, and refurbished products. This helps divert stock from landfills and has the added bonus of being a bit kinder on your pocket too. Your consumer rights aren’t affected – unless otherwise stated, Vango accepts returns within 28 days of delivery.

Tents Made From Recycled Materials

Vango has also introduced a National Trust Collection, which is a collaboration between Vango and the National Trust. Their collection of tents in this range is made from Sentinel Eco™ fabric – a fabric made from recycled plastic bottles which come from waterways, streets, and landfills.  I’d like to see all of Vango’s tents being made from this material, as a single eco range does not make for a sustainable brand, but it’s a solid start.

Plastic-Free Tents

The investment eco option is a canvas bell tent. Plastic-free, 100% cotton canvas bell tents have better breathability than conventional tents, and, being stronger, have a longer lifespan.  However, you have to be very careful with canvas bell tents. You should never put the tent away damp as mould and mildew can take hold and damage and rot the tent. I’ve never bought a bell tent so don’t have any recommendations for suppliers, so it’s best to ask around, as these can be pricey investments.

The Best Eco-Friendly Sleeping Bags

eco-friendly sleeping bags for camping

There are a few sustainable sleeping bags on the market to add to your sustainable camping gear kit bag. I’ve specifically looked for sleeping bags made from recycled materials that are PFC-free. PFC stands for per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals, that are used to weatherproof outdoor gear. This sounds innocuous, however, these chemicals accumulate in the environment, and for some PFCs there is evidence that they cause harm to both the hormonal and reproductive systems in both humans and animals, as well as being carcinogenic. Greenpeace has written more on the issues of PCFs if you wish to find out more.

Exped Litesyn Sleeping Bag

The LiteSyn sleeping bag from Exped* (£177.56), pictured above, is perfect for camping trips from late spring to early autumn, with iits -2°C comfort rating. This one is a good sustainable choice for any camper. Here’s why

  • Its synthetic fibre filling is made from recycled polyester.
  • The fabric is certified as bluesign approved. This is an independent verification that certifies that in each step in the textile supply chain only approved chemicals, processes, materials, and products are used. This means these products are safe for the environment, workers and customers.
  • It carries the STANDARD 100 Oeko Tex label. This means you can be certain that every component of this product, i.e. every thread and zipper has been independently tested for harmful substances. This assure you that the sleeping bag is non-toxic.
  • It’s PFC-free.

Marmot Idlewild Sleeping Bag

The Marmot Idlewild Sleeping Bag* (£129.95) is made from recycled polyester and is filled with a recycled synthetic fibre filling. Reassuringly, it’s also PFC-free. This one is suitable for summer camping trips, so has a shorter usage window than others.

Nordisk Mummy Sleeping Bag

The Nordisk Mummy Sleeping Bag* (£123.95) is a three-season sleeping bag, with a -5°C comfort rating. It’s PFC-free and made from recycled polyester.

The Ethical Rucksacks

Millican ethical rucksacks for camping

Of course, you need somewhere to transport your clothes and camping gear.

In terms of ethical rucksacks, I really rate Millican rucksacks. The 25L Smith The Roll Pack** is made from 100% recycled polyester yarn made from post-consumer waste, on both the outer and lining fabric. This makes it a great sustainable choice when upgrading your camping gear.

What’s more, even the hardware is made from infinitely recyclable aluminum, rather than plastic. A repair service is also offered. This ensures that your rucksack stays in tip-top condition year after year, camping trip after camping trip.

If you are looking for something smaller to take on hiking trips or other everyday adventures, Millican’s core collection** is worth looking at. Take 10% off at Millican with the discount code MORAL10 – valid until 30th September 2021.

You can also see my post on ethical backpacks for more ideas.

Environmentally Friendly Camping Stoves & Cooking

A sustainable alternative to a gas-powered fossil-fuel camping stove is a wood-fired camping stove. I came across this Biolite Camping Stove (£225) that is powered by wood. What’s more, the heat generated by the stove also charges up your mobile phone. SO handy!

Alternatively, if you want a decidely more budget-friendly wood-burning camping stove for your sustainable camping gear kit bag, then try this Robens Wood Burner Camping Stove (£27). It simply cooks your food without fossil fuels, which is all you could possibly need from a camping stove.

To light your stove, say goodbye to plastic fossil fuel-powered lighters or soggy matches with a Fire Stick, such as this Wildo one. This a fool-proof and fun way of lighting a stove. Simply strike the striker off the flint for sparks to light your stove with. I bought my partner one a few years ago, and he loves it.

Sustainable Camping Tips

Even if your camping gear isn’t sustainable, it’s arguably more important that you act like a sustainable camper. Having an understanding of the Countryside Code is key. However here are a few more environmentally friendly camping tips to consider.

Consider Where You Camp

Official camp grounds are the best places to camp. This is because they are set up to cater for campers, and often have bathroom facilities and facilities for cooking, washing, and refuse collection. Wild camping – where you camp on public or private land without permission – is allowed in most places. However the rise of irresponsible wild campers means wild camping is gaining a bad reputation. And not only that – many remote communities don’t have the infrastructure to deal with an influx of waste caused by tourists. Consider if the area you are camping in can support wild camping before rocking up with your tent.

Food

For short-trips, it’s a great idea to bring your own pre-prepared meals that you can warm up on a camping stove. Food that travels and reheats well includes soup (I’ve got loads of vegetarian soup recipes here) and pasta. Alternatively you can decant shop bought food into reusable containers. This means that should there be no bins where you are camping, or no recycling facilities, then you won’t leave any waste.

If you do need to take food with you, do consider its disposal. If your campsite doesn’t offer composting, then for short trips, try to bring your food waste home with you (in a sealed jar, for example). And if the campsite doesn’t offer recycling, again try to bring that home with you rather than putting it into landfill. And if where you are camping has no bin (if you are wild camping, for example), them be sure to bring all of your waste home.

Cooking

Be mindful of where you are cooking. As well as being not great for the environment, disposable barbeques can cause fires. It’s therefore important to take extra care not to cause a fire when you are cooking.

The best advice is to cook using a stove, rather than lighting an open fire or a disposable barbeque. If you do need to light a fire, then the Scottish Outdoor Access Code offers good advice. They say:

“Keep it small, under control, and supervised – fires that get out of control can cause major damage, for which you might be liable. Never light an open fire during prolonged dry periods or in areas such as forests, woods, farmland or on peaty ground or near to buildings or in cultural heritage sites where damage can be easily caused. Heed all advice at times of high risk. Remove all traces of an open fire before you leave”.

Using designated barbeque areas is also important, as it keeping a bucket of water nearby at all times.

How To Do The Toilet Outdoors Responsibly

If you are wild camping, then it’s important to be a considerate toilet goer. The most sustainable advice is to know in advance the location of public toilets, or establishments that may let you use their bathroom facilities.

However, even the best laid plans can see us caught short. If you’re outdoors with no access to toilets, then there is some general advice that you should follow.

Weeing Outdoors

If you need to urinate, you should do so at least 30 metres from open water or rivers and streams. Always bag and bin toilet roll – never leave it on the ground, as it takes a surprisingly long time to decompose.

Pooping Outdoors

If you need to poo, you have two options. Bag it and bin it, as you would do with dog poo. That means you should be prepared to carry the bag until you find a suitable bin to dispose of it in. Carrying some compostable dog poo bags* in with your sustainable camping gear kit is therefore a really good idea in this circumstance, even if you don’t have dog.

If you don’t have a bag to hand, then the Scottish Outdoor Access Code says you should do so as far away as possible from buildings, from open water or rivers and streams, and from any farm animals. Once you are done, you should bury the faeces in a shallow hole and replace the turf. It’s good practice to carry a small trowel with you if you are wild camping for this purpose. I think this is good advice to follow, whether you are camping in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK.

Don’t bury toilet roll, wet wipes or period products. These should be bagged and binned when you find appropriate facilities.

Leave No Trace

Finally, when it’s time to come home, then bring home everything at the end of your trip. Even if your tent breaks, or there are no bins, or the bins are overflowing, it’s no excuse to dump rubbish. Take it all home, and dispose of it in your own bin.

Any more sustainable camping gear recommendations or tips for being a responsible camper? Do share! You can also check out my posts on the best ethical outdoor gear and ethical coats and jackets in case of a rain!

Eco-friendly camping advice
Overnight Breaks, Travel

Why We Need to Stop Saying “It’ll Go Without Me” When It Comes to Air Travel

“It’ll go without me” is a common excuse about air travel that needs to stop if we want to be part of the solution to our climate emergency.

I was in a cafe the other day, the kind of cafe where the tables are squashed together just a little too close to one another for comfort. I had come for peace and quiet, and as I took my seat at the only free table, I immediately regretted my choice of cafe. Two women were sat at the table next to me chatting quite loudly. As I drank my cup of tea and scribbled some notes, I tried to tune out their chatter.

My ears pricked, however, when their conversation turned to holidays. One woman revealed to the other that she and her husband had booked a family holiday abroad. And whilst she was excited about the holiday, she had recently watched David Attenborough’s Climate Change: The Facts. and felt terrible guilt over the flights it would entail and the impact on the environment. Her friend, being the good friend, told her not to worry because that flight would go anyway, whether she was on the flight or not. She told her that this act of her flying on this particular flight wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to the environment.

I bit my tongue because I’m not the kind of person that would butt into the conversation of strangers (though it seems I’m the type of person that would recount the conversation of strangers on the internet!). However I couldn’t help but wish we could stop spreading the false notion of “it’ll go without me” when it comes to transport, particularly air travel.

Profits, Not a Public Service

When it comes to air travel, you have to remember that flight operators are businesses. They don’t just exist to perform a public service. Therefore money is everything. Flights and routes need to be profitable otherwise services get cut. So yes, in the short term that one flight probably will go without you, but in the long term the fewer people that choose to fly, the fewer flights and fewer runways are required, and the less profitable aviation becomes. This means the “it’ll go without me” notion becomes a hollow excuse.

Of course, some air travel can be unavoidable. Work trips, trips to see family and friends abroad, or living on a small island with little alternative, can mean few alternatives to flying. However, 47% of Britons are willing to fly less because of climate change (ignore the doom and gloom right-wing headline, 47% of Britons is HUGE). If almost half the country stopped flying for avoidable trips – e.g. to go on holiday abroad – the number of flights would be cut back drastically to reflect the downturn in demand.

Of course, it’s not just Brits that need to stop flying to be able to reduce flights. The good news is no-fly campaigns are growing in Europe. I would imagine more will catch on more and more as interest and awareness in our climate emergency gathers momentum. Particularly when one transatlantic flight can add as much to your carbon footprint as a typical year’s worth of driving (and that’s just one way).

Be Part of the Solution

So the “it’ll go without me” excuse doesn’t hold weight. Like most environmental actions, while you won’t save the world on your own by not flying, you will certainly be part of the solution by not flying when you don’t need to.

If you want to really be part of the solution when it comes to air travel then consider the value of social proof. This survey on fast fashion, for example, showed that a staggering 90% of respondents would shop secondhand if their friends or family did so first. Therefore, it would hold if more of us holiday in the UK and talk to our friends and family about our holiday,s then the more people that will consider the value of holidaying without flying anywhere.

One of my Scottish friends took a holiday in the north of Scotland over Easter and shared the photos on Facebook. Two Scottish people commented that the photos of the trip had inspired them to holiday in Scotland, which on a micro-scale highlights the value of social proof:

And living in the UK, we really are spoiled for choice when it comes to beautiful spots to holiday in – there’s no shortage of places to go. From city breaks to beach holidays, to forests to mountains, we really do have it all.

It’ll Go Without Me Applies to Public Transport Too

The same “it’ll go without me” mentality when it comes to public transport is another one that needs to stop, because, like with airlines, if people don’t use their local bus and rail networks, they will cease to run too.

Whilst many bus routes are subsidised by local authorities, these routes still have to be profitable. When bus routes get cut, these cuts hit the poorest the most. The more we use public transport, the better for the environment and the better for those on lower incomes too, which is true sustainability.

Over to you: do you holiday in the UK? Have you cut back on your flying because of climate change? Would you cut back on your flying because of climate change? I’d love to hear!