There is no doubt that camping offers countless health benefits. It is good for our well-being as it allows us to be free and relax a little, we can connect with nature again and it even teaches us to be more aware of our surroundings. Since most people go camping with friends or family, it also teaches us to be more present, disconnect from our screens and make lasting memories. At the same time, how much can we really benefit when we simultaneously do damage to our body and environment? It may seem like an impossible task, but it's not too late to leave your adventures without a trace using eco-friendly biodegradable products.
Protect the environment, but how?
Avoiding plastic and waste is of course a major part of protecting the environment and both campsites as well as campers ensure that the space is clean and left without impact to animals and nature. Many do forget however, that the products we use have lasting damages and effects to the environment. This is a factor that contributes to waste and poisons the natural ecosystem. By choosing eco-friendly and biodegradable essentials, you can ensure you enjoy the outdoors whilst protecting the environment through consumer choices. Here are some recommendations for camping essentials, without sacrificing their efficacy and convenience.
Undoubtedly the most important necessity you can't miss when you're packing for your camping trip is your personal hygiene pack. This has all the products we use on a daily basis, including deodorant, toothpaste, soaps, lotions and of course the most important one since 2020, hand sanitizer.
As you might have not known, the long list of ingredients in common toothpastes include controversial chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, microplastics, SLS and formaldehydes. These are both bad for the environment as well as our health. Not to forget that the process of manufacturing and recycling the plastic tubes is very unfriendly for the environment. Ben & Anna Black Toothpaste is a great alternative that comes in a recyclable glass container with a bamboo spatula for application. It is free of any harmful ingredients listed above and instead contains high quality natural ingredients such as chamomile, activated charcoal, cinnamon and calcium for the same strong, shiny and clean teeth! It is biodegradable, cruelty-free, vegan, eco-friendly, plastic free, recyclable and ethically made in the Netherlands.
Similar to the harmful ingredients in toothpaste, these occur in shampoos and conditioners that most of us use daily. We use these products to make our hair clean, soft and damage free but on the contrary many ingredients in shampoos cause dry, damaged and brittle hair. Along with damaging the environment, which is the last thing we need when we shower in the great outdoors. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), parabens, formaldehyde synthetic fragrances and silicones are a few of the ingredients that would be best to avoid in your products. Research can be found on these proving hidden chemicals, potential to absorb in skin through scalp, strip natural hair oils and more. Faith in Nature is a UK locally manufactured company that is sustainable, cruelty free, vegan, recycled, biodegradable and ethical. Unfortunately, they are not plastic free as they use recycled plastic bottles, however, you can refill your bottle to avoid more plastic consumption. The ingredient list is short and perfect for a shower in nature when camping as all ingredients are biodegradable. We highly recommend Faith In Nature- Grapefruit & Orange Shampoo and Conditioner Bundle as it leaves your hair smelling delicious and extremely nourished. Perfect for your shower after a long day adventuring outdoors.
Dr Bronner’s whole collection is great for natural biodegradable alternatives and is an American family run business based in California. If you dont like soap bars then their range also offers liquid body washes in many fragrances for both men and women. Although soap bars are a better choice regarding their plastic free packaging. It says it all that you can use their soaps for “washing your face, body, hands and hair, for bathing, shaving, brushing your teeth, rinsing fruit, aromatherapy, washing dishes by hand, doing laundry, mopping floors, all-purpose cleaning, washing windows, scrubbing toilets, washing dogs, controlling dust mites, ants and aphids.” I have tried and tested Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap Bar- Almond in a permaculture site in Portugal and could not fault it. Absolutely guilt free!
As probably many of you can relate who have tried to find a natural alternative, a deodorant that keeps you smelling delicious, is a difficult find. I find you can not go wrong with Salt of the Earth Natural Deodorant Roll On. Not only do deodorant sprays contain harmful aluminium, the sprays also release these chemicals into the air leaving them in the ecosystem. Some of these are parabens, triclosan, phthalates and propylene glycol. If you want to reduce air pollution in the smallest of ways, Salt of the Earth is a good choice. They are UK based, manufactured in Hampshire and are environmentally friendly, ethical, cruelty free and vegan. Check out their recently released plastic free deodorant balm packaged in a glass container.
To end the hygiene product section with the utmost essential and most purchased of 2020, hand sanitizer. The FDA have warned that the alcohol in these can have side effects to respiratory health, and therefore we can assume also to our environment. Some hand sanitizers are also potentially contaminated with toxic types of alcohol, have false misleading claims and don't contain enough of the ingredient ethyl alcohol (Ethanol) or isopropyl alcohol. Although we can not avoid the alcohol content of at least 60%, Dr. Bronner's Organic Hand Sanitizer Spray is the most natural one I have come across, just as effective and without nasty chemicals, its 62% Organic Ethanol, Water, Organic Glycerin (sourced from organic soy) and Organic Lavender Oil. The addition of the oil moisturises the hands again from the dryness of the alcohol.
Natural sun and bug protection
When going on a camping trip, it's undeniable most of your time will be spent outdoors. Whether this is through cooking, playing, going for adventures, activities etc. Sun protection is needed for those sunny days. Not to mention the relaxing pool and beach days. Even though sunscreen is important for protecting us it also has damaging effects as it ends up in the ocean and waterways after we swim or shower it off. Ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, nano titanium dioxide, and nano zinc oxide can harm coral reefs and sea creatures. We recommend a completely biodegradable one, Jason Natural Care SPF 45 Sunscreen, it smells good, protects your skin just the effectively and has no harmful chemicals so it also can be showered off without doing harm to the water. It's water resistant too so you can be sure to swim and keep protected.
Another commonly used product when you spend a time outdoors, is bug repellent. It is very harsh, bad for your health and extremely bad for the environment. Most commonly DEET ( N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) which is absorbed quickly into the skin, when mixed with sunscreen chemical oxybenzone it is absorbed even faster. It also breaks down very slowly in soil and can contaminate groundwater. In the long list of chemicals, bug repellent can have chemicals Cyfluthrin, Permethrin and Pyrethroids (commonly used worldwide as a pesticide for crops) which is toxic to aquatic invertebrates, fish, and honeybees. An alternative is Incognito Anti-Mosquito Spray Repellent which uses natural active plant based PMD which is approved by the NHS. Incognito Spray is clinically tested, made in the UK and the bottle is made from sugarcane plastic which is recyclable.
Bonus Eco Tips
Some extra tips to make your camping stay even more eco friendly.
Buying organic fruit, or if not make sure you don't leave your orange peel on the ground next time. Non organic fruits often contain pesticides which will deteriorate in the soil or get eaten by insects and animals.
Reusable batteries for your torch or camera to avoid single use batteries. You can also find solar powered tools which can charge all day to be used at night.
Compostable bag for food scraps to be extra green. These also help keep ants and insects away if you clean up your food properly.
Loofah sponge, a sustainable resource that's biodegradable made from loofah plants. Once it's ready to be thrown you can dig it up and it will compost in your garden. Loofco has a range of cleaning sponges, for body and household. We love this brand as these loofahs are grown in Egypt and support traditional local farmers.
There are so many options to be greener, even small changes make a big difference for your next camping stay!
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