Tips to Reduce Waste on Car Camping Trips

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One of the most common things you will see car campers carrying away after their trip is a bag full of trash. Most of the camping sites require that one leaves the place as clean as they found it but do you need to have all that trash? Carrying the garbage might not be a problem, but having a trip with less waste is ideal, especially if you do not want to spend a lot of time cleaning up before you leave. In this piece, we are going to expound on some essential tips to avoid waste during your next car camping trip. The tips revolve around what you should bring, what you should leave, and some things you need to do differently to reduce your waste. Read on;

Why is it Important to Manage Waste on Your Camping Trip?

It is easy to argue that as long as you will carry the waste away, there is no harm. Well, we produce a lot of trash while camping, and as much as we might take everything away, it is impossible to clean up everything. For instance, you will need to wash your utensils with water and maybe pour it out, affecting the environment. We share this environment with wildlife, and they can easily be attracted to this waste and feed on them unintentionally.

Some camping sites have designated disposal areas, and even if we dispose our trash here, it is not ideal. Camp trash can take a toll on parks and protected areas as these places might not be well equipped to handle a large amount of litter deposited there if the site receives many visitors. Carrying trash bags home when we leave camping seems like the easy way out, but it’s better to solve the root problem and learn how to avoid waste during camping.

Camping Gear

Here, we are going to list tips that are connected to the items we bring to the camping site. If you are meticulous when picking your camping gear, you should reduce waste significantly.

Carry Reusable Water Bottles

Most of the car camping parks have designated sources of water spread around the whole area. If there is no specific source, you must get it from somewhere, even if you must bring your own. Store this water in reusable bottles that can be refilled once they are depleted. If possible, carry a single huge water container where everybody will get their water from to avoid instances where everyone has their disposable water bottle. You will be less tempted to dispose of your huge water container since you will need it in the future, reducing the waste associated with disposable water bottles.

Avoid Single-Use Batteries

Today, we have a wide variety of rechargeable batteries available in stores. When camping, carry these batteries and leave the single-use ones at home. If you need it for your flashlight, consider buying one that can either be recharged using your car, a solar panel, or any other form. The idea here is to avoid dumping these batteries after using them. Rechargeable batteries will save you a lot of money in the long run since you will keep on using them even after the camping expedition.

Buy Big

It is hard to find a straightforward way to avoid waste when it comes to essential products such as bug spray and sunscreen lotion. However, you can find options out there that are made with components that are safe for the environment. The most logical way here is to buy in bulk. Avoid buying small portions of these essential supplies since you might only use them a few times and be forced to dispose their containers while on camp. Buy buying big; you will have to carry it home and probably use it several times before you have to dispose the container.

Go for Quality

If you are going camping for the first time or do it sporadically, the chances are high that you won’t want to invest much in camping gear. If you go to any car camping park dumping site, you will find broken chairs, cookware, and all sorts of camping gear ending up in the dumpsite. It does not make sense to save a few bucks only to end up dumping the camping gear after two trips. Lean towards the quality camping gear, even if they cost a little more, and you will use them for a long time. This way, you will reduce waste during your camping trip since all your gear will remain intact, and all you will have to do is tuck them away in a safe place and wait for the next trip.

Rent Camping Gear

If you do not anticipate using camping gear frequently, rent, borrow, or lease for the expedition. Here, you will be more obliged to take care of this gear and return them to the leasing entity once you are done.


Prepare Your Meals in Advance

Most of the waste produced in a car camping expedition is as a result of meal preparation. If you get this right, the chances are high that you will cut down on many waste products. Prepare your food ahead of time and pack them in reusable containers so that you what is stored where. If you have to carry things such as corn, flour, or any other food sold in a disposable package, do it before hand and repack them into reusable containers. Plan what you will eat throughout the trip and carry what you need to avoid any wastage.

Make Your Food Over Campfire

Avoid carrying propane gas cylinders and learn to make your food over a campfire. This is the essence of camping, and a good iron skillet can do the job correctly for you.

Wash Dishes Promptly

Do not procrastinate over the dishes and wash them as soon as they are dirty. The idea here is to keep your camping gear clean. Avoid carrying single-use plastics and bring cookware that can be reused. Today, you can get a camping gear set containing almost everything you will need to prepare and serve your meals.

Waste Cleaning

Here, you will need to embrace innovative ways to clean your waste. It is impossible to have zero waste, but if the little your produce is not cleaned up, it could still have the same damaging effects on the environment.

For your dirty kitchenware, you will have to embrace a smart way to clean them without generating too much waste product. Bring your scrub brushes from home and wash them with water in a tub rather than doing it with flowing water.

If you bring waste bags, be sure to have several of them to separate your waste for easier management. This will help you to dispose them appropriately. Carry one for recyclable materials, organic waste, and inorganic waste. Most car camping parks have recycling stations where you can leave some of the materials that can be recycled, but you will need to do the sorting out for them.

Get Back to Basics

This applies mostly to kids or any other person you might come with on your car camping expedition. It beats logic to follow all these tips religiously when someone in your delegation does not understand what you are trying to do and still accumulates waste during the trip. Ensure that you set the ground rules for these people when they get to the camping site so that they can help you reduce waste.

If you have your kids around, give them a little and healthy amount of boredom. Let them explore ways to get out of their boredom, such as play games using the natural features available in the park. The idea is to carry as little clutter as possible as they can easily dump them and harm the environment. Teach them to clean their dishes as soon as they finish eating and store their water bottles and other things safely throughout the trip. Once your camping delegation understands that you are trying to reduce wastage, they will help whenever they can and make it easy for you to achieve your goal.

Leave No Trace

Once your camping expedition is over, leave no trace, and carry everything you brought to the site. It does not hurt to go an extra step and pick up what you find, even if you did not bring it. Not everyone will follow the tips mentioned above, and you need to take responsibility and help keep the environment clean. If some other people used your spot and left some waste there, clear it up and keep the environment around it spotless.


We all love our environment, and it does not hurt to go an extra step to keep it clean. Some of these tweaks might force you to be extra careful during your car camping expedition, but it is for the greater good. You will be better off leaving the site with less trash, and the park will remain naturally clean for you when you decide to visit next time out.