We all enjoy a good trip to the bush, have a favourite national park or hidden spot that we love to visit to escape the concrete jungle.
In today’s fast-paced world it is more important than ever to allow for these retreats. But with a greater need for escape comes an increased impact on our wild places. If we don’t consider how we affect our natural environment, we will soon find that our richness of flora and fauna will diminish. So the next time you swap bustling streets for the bush track, leave no trace!
What can you do to make a difference?
Food and rubbish
Food scraps attract animals and can lead to unsightly campsites, but also cause harm to wildlife as parts of packaging might be consumed or caught up. When you prepare food ensure you collect any scraps that may have fallen to the ground and store the garbage above ground.
TIP: Using a shopping or small garbage bag to line a drysack will ensure there is no leakage, will keep odours in and prevent animals feasting on your rubbish while you sleep.
If your campsite provides toilet facilities be sure to use them. If none are available, bury your waste and any toilet paper in a hole 12–20cm deep and well (well!) away from campsites, tracks and water (at least 100m). Pocket trowels are easy to carry, affordable and do not take up much space. If any other sanitary items are used be sure to take them when you leave so as not to draw wildlife to the campsite.
TIP: You don’t need to pass on all luxuries when no toilets are available. Most toilet paper is biodegradable and can be kept dry with a nifty toilet roll holder. If you’re really shy, a toilet tent is also a great idea.
Some campsites may offer facilities for washing, but in most cases you will need to set up your own personal and dish washing stations. When washing yourself or your dishes, make sure you carry water 100 meters from the water source and use a small amount of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater and pop small scraps into the rubbish.
TIP: Only use biodegradable soap and dispose of any food scraps in a plastic bag before washing up.
Bonus washing tip
The label “biodegradable” on soaps does not mean you can use it in streams, lakes or rivers! The used water will need to naturally filter through the soil. This happens best if you spread it over a wide area at least 100 metres away from the water source.
TIP: Use a foldable bucket or kitchen sink to carry water into your wash site.
Campfires can add to the enjoyment and experience of camping, however they can have a lasting and sometimes dramatic impact on the environment. Check if fires are allowed in the area you’re camping in and, if permitted, only use well established fire rings. Avoid creating new fire-pits.
Keep fires small as wood is a natural habitat for animals, bugs and birds, a simple rule is if you can’t break the stick using your hands don’t burn it. Make sure you fully burn the fire down to ash and that it is extinguished before you leave the fire for the night or when breaking camp. It’s best practice to use a stove for cooking instead of an open fire and a lamp or headlight for illumination (or the stars).
Dave has worked as an International Expedition Leader and in Outdoor Education for over 15 years. He has extensive travel and guiding experience in Australia, NZ, Asia, South/North America and Europe.
In his spare time, Dave is a keen bushwalker, mountain biker and climber who also enjoys dabbling in some mountaineering and sea kayaking.
Currently, he is the National Account Manager at Paddy Pallin (to fund all of the above).
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