Tiptoe through the gum trees: ideas for camping sustainably

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Camping! The chance to escape the busyness of daily life and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, connect with the natural world and appreciate the delicate balance of our ecosystems. This holiday period, camping is an affordable and fun option, but it’s crucial to make sure we do it sustainably with minimal impact on the environment.

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Here’s how:

1. Know the rules

Before setting out, find out the camping regulations and guidelines the area you’re heading to. These rules are in place to protect the environment and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all campers. Obtain any necessary permits, and be aware of any restrictions—like fire bans—or closures in the area. Respect local customs and traditions, and avoid disturbing cultural or historical sites.

2. Go with less

Opt for lightweight, durable, compact and multi-functional gear that minimises your impact on the environment. Consider sharing tents, cooking equipment etc. with fellow campers to further reduce your load. Choose products made from recycled or sustainable materials whenever possible. And don’t forget your first aid kit.

A view of Wine-Glass Bay Tasmania—a blue ocean bay with white sand and surrounded by hills of bushland.
Adopting eco-friendly practices helps ensure that the natural wonders we enjoy today will remain pristine for generations to come. Canva.

3. Leave no trace

The core principle of sustainable camping is to minimise your footprint. Leave no trace of your presence behind—as if you were never there.

– Choose durable campsites like gravel or rock and avoid camping under trees. 

– Pack all your rubbish including food scraps, packaging, and personal hygiene products. 

– Use a  portable camp toilet and dispose of waste at a designated waste dump point. Or bury human waste in a hole dug at least 20cm deep and well away from water sources, campsites and trails. 

– Hot water and grit like sand or gravel work well for cleaning. But, if you really have to use detergent, go for natural cleaning alternatives like baking soda, vinegar, or biodegradable soaps, and dispose of the wastewater well away from water sources.

5. Respect your hosts and their place

Meeting wildlife is such an amazing experience of any camping trip. But if you want to see them up close, take a pair of binoculars; always maintain a respectful distance, allowing the animals to continue their natural behaviours undisturbed.

Never feed wildlife, as this can alter their natural foraging patterns and make them dependent on human handouts. Store food in airtight containers and keep a safe distance between your campsite and food storage areas to prevent attracting animals. Respect their habitat, just as you would expect it from visitors to your home.

A wombat mother with baby close behind walking together up a grassy incline.
Meeting wildlife can be an amazing experience of any camping trip. Image supplied by author.

Additional Tips for Sustainable Camping

⛺️ Plan your meals carefully to minimise food waste. Take back out any unused food and avoid bringing excessive packaging.

⛺️ Use reusable water bottles and containers to reduce waste from disposable items.

⛺️ Choose campsites that are already disturbed, rather than creating new ones.

⛺️ Be mindful of noise levels to avoid disturbing wildlife and other campers.

⛺️ Leave the campsite as you found it, or even better.

Sustainable camping is about enhancing your outdoor experience while minimising your impact on the environment. Adopting these eco-friendly practices helps ensure that the natural wonders we enjoy today will remain pristine for generations to come.

Remember, every step we take towards sustainability is a step towards preserving the delicate balance of our ecosystems and safeguarding the natural beauty that surrounds us.

Looking for ways to reduce your environmental impact? Try these Glimmer articles.

Join the Glimmer community—people who care about helping each other to live more sustainably. Because together we can make a difference.


Do You Know the 7 Leave No Trace Principles? https://www.snowys.com.au/blog/7-leave-no-trace-principles/

‘It requires planning and commitment’: how to camp sustainably. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/nov/18/leave-only-footprints-how-to-enjoy-the-great-outdoors-in-an-environmentally-friendly-way

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