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Waste Free Camping Guide & Checklist

Our previous only scratched the surface on sustainable camping tips, so we wanted to make you a comprehensive guide to help you make every moment of your camping experience as waste free as possible! Included is a digital and downloadable checklist with everything mentioned in this blog, as well as a pdf guide you can download or print off and bring with you on your trip! 





Coming from Calgary, we have personally looked through the Travel Alberta camping site picker here, which will help you find established camping sites so you do not disturb the fragile ecosystem and you camp legally. The regulations in Alberta parks may change regularity, so check the current rules here
    For those venturing out of Alberta, make sure to check out the restrictions and recommendations in the places you hope you camp out!



    Making your own food is probably one of the most timely tasks to prep for camping, but it is so extremely worth it!

    Plan out your meals so you can do a bulk shopping trip and can estimate how much food you are going to need based on the amount of people you are feeding and how many days you will be away.

    For example, fruit is a great delicious snack that needs no prep, and that you could possibly pick up on your way to your destination and support roadside stands and farmers markets!



      • Banana bread  
      • Pancakes
      • Veggie scramble
      • Hashbrowns
      • Granola + fruit


      • Chili
      • Pasta
      • Burritos
      • Sweet potatoes 
      • Pizza



    Opting out of buying cans and bottles is probably one of the most noticeable changes when setting off on a zero waste camping trip, and realistically, can’t always be done.  Great alternatives are: refilling beer growlers from local breweries, making your own juice and adult beverages to pack in reusable bottles, or buying bulk bottles instead of a ton of cans.  




    Instead of using bottled water, why not use the plastic free alternative around you - spring water! Bring a water filter with you, so you can use as much water as you may need on your trip without worrying about running out, or piling up bottle waste. You can also bring as much water as you have room for on your trip, and freeze water bottles for cooler ice that is drinkable once it melts!


    Making your own soda at home with a SodaSteam can be a great alternative to create both custom cocktails and save waste and storage space! It’s transportable so you can also bring it with you on your adventure. 


    Wild Tea Kombucha is a Calgary-based business that offers cocktail-inspired brews, and they have growler refills! 


    To skip out on the plastic packaging, you can buy bulk beans and grind them yourself! Devil’s Head Roasting let’s you bring your own container to fill up at their roasterie (plus you get a discount when you do). 


    Switch to loose leaf tea, and dump your extra leaves in your compost when you are done! 

    Adult Alternatives

    When this can’t be achieved, purchasing local is your best bet. Some great Calgarian producers include:

      • SunnyCider - they make cider with fruit that would have gone to waste. Delicious and gluten free. 
      • Partake - non-alcoholic beer with the same craft taste, brewed in Calgary!


    4 - GET PACKING + GO

    Follow this checklist as a guide to see what items you should bring to stay fully prepared and reduce your waste! It can also be found as a digital version here. 

    Don't have all the necessary camping gear? You don't have to buy new! You can find about anything and everything secondhand, or borrow camping equipment to save money.




    Although food is compostable, do not throw it out on the ground. Even if it’s natural, always bring back what you brought out (including pet waste, cigarettes, and all food scraps)!

    Luckily, you shouldn’t have next to 0 items of garbage if you follow this guide, but you may want to bring a small bin for waste just in case. You will likely have some compost and maybe recycling items, which can also be put in a sealable container and disposed of when you get home.


    Instead of propane, use the natural heat of the fire with a fire safe iron skillet or dutch oven. You can use scraps from home like paper or laundry lint for kindling! 


    If you’re using biodegradable soap, Leave No Trace Canada recommends using small amounts and doing so about 70 metres away from any bodies of water. Once you’re done, scatter soapy water.

    Clean messes with reusable cloths and toxic free, natural cleaning products. 


    One of the best things about camping is that nature is your home, but it’s easy to forget that toothpaste can contain toxic ingredients that may be harmful to wildlife. All natural toothpastes leave no toxic trace so you can spit freely (at least 200 feet away from any water source). 

    Wash your hands with water with some biodegradable soap, but make sure to do this away from water sources as well. 




    Anything we have missed? Add your suggestions to the comments below and we will add it to our guide! 

    Happy camping!

    1 comment

    • DonnaB

      Sunnycider not only uses fruit that would have gone to waste, they also have a refillery for their great cider. All ciders are on tap at their cidery. Bring back the glass bottle from their cider or any bottle. They will refill with your choice of cider and you save some money as the refill cost is less than purchasing a new bottle.

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