3 Tips For A Trash-Free Trek Through The Wilderness

Bellesen, Rachel, Zero-Waste Hike Lunch, 2021.

Written by Katie Merikallio | Edited by Carol Coutinho & Pavlina Marek

Summer is the perfect time to explore the outdoors of our beautiful planet, be it through picnics, hikes, beach trips or even a leisurely walk in the park. After having spent so long indoors, enjoying nature is now a truly cherished experience. However, to appreciate it, it’s essential to take care of it. So here are our top three tips to make sure you leave no trace when eating outdoors, whether it’s a day out or a longer camping trip. 


Don’t Litter (Even If It’s Fruit)

It’s easy to dismiss food waste like apple cores and banana peels as “natural” waste—they’re fine in your compost bins, right? But whether you’re in a forest or at a beach, leaving any trash behind harms the environment—and your orange peel is still trash. Your food waste likely isn’t native to the area and will be bad for the wildlife, and stuff like apple cores might be biodegradable, but they can still take close to two months to fully disappear. So keep all your food waste in a trash bag—or, in the case of apples, challenge yourself to eat the whole core! You’ll get more nutrients that way too


Cut Down On Packaging Beforehand

The less packaging you have to deal with while you’re out, the easier it’ll be to make sure none of it gets away from you. If you’re bringing many little individually packaged things, you can remove them from their packaging and carry them all in a sealed ziplock bag, eliminating the wrappers! If you’re cooking when camping, try to choose meals made of simple, low waste ingredients that require only a few pots or pans. 

A zero-waste lunch pack, with individual packaged nuts repacked together, a reusable plate, and recyclable lunch bag.

Bellesen, Rachel, Zero-Waste Lunch Pack, 2021.


Wash Your Dishes the Right Way

If you’re on a full-blown camping trip, make sure you’re cleaning your dishes correctly after you cook. It’s important to be at least 200 feet away from any natural water source when you wash your dishes to avoid getting soap in them. Even biodegradable soap can take a few years to disappear entirely. Scrape all the food you can into your trash bag before scrubbing with a bit of biodegradable soap and a little water, then rinse. Unless you’re with a big group of people, you should only need one water bucket. Then strain the dirty water, throwing the food scraps in the trash and burying the water.

A hiker surveys distant mountains across from her trail. The mountains are made of giant strawberries.

Bellesen, Rachel, Leave No Trace, 2021.

We all love the outdoors, and there’s no better way to make sure that we can keep loving it than by making sure to leave no trace. So follow these three simple tips, and our planet will thank you!

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