Responsible camping starts with a healthy attitude for preserving the environment. Pack it in – pack it out, means if you carry it in, you should carry it out. Consider where you are hiking and camping as if it were your own back yard or your neighbors’ property. You’re not going to leave a big mess of empty containers and paper wrappings lying around outside in your own neighborhood are you?
The wilderness areas of our country are our most prized possessions and are protected to ensure they are preserved in pristine condition so that they can be enjoyed for generations. So when you bring things into these areas it’s up to you to ensure the natural beauty is protected. You must properly dispose of your trash or carry it away with you, or you can cause lasting damage to the ecosystem and its natural cycles. Along with your camping tent and sleeping bag take out the trash when you leave.
While hiking or camping in wilderness areas you will see signs that say, “Pack it In – Pack it Out”. These signs are reminders to keep the area clean and leave no traces of you ever being there. In order to do your part in keeping such areas in pristine conditions, you will need to remember to clean up after yourself and those who hike or travel with you in the great outdoors.
It’s tempting to burn used paper products in an in your campfire to dispose of them. However, you should not burn metal or plastic items. Do the right thing and build a latrine, then use it properly. You can do this by digging a small hole and then covering the waste in the soil with the dirt you removed to make the hole. Remember to burn any toilet paper you may use in the campfire. If not pack it out when you go. Not a pleasant thought, but it’s responsible camping!
Another thing that can help you protect the wilderness is by taking care where you set up your camping tent. Some places may already have designated campsites set up and you should make use of them, since this helps to preserve the surrounding area. If you don’t have this option, then you need to choose a flat area and avoid undergrowth of plants and grasses if possible. Setting up a camping tent on the vegetation can damage and even kill it, leaving your unfortunate signature.
While packing your hiking and camping equipment you should consider packing an extra trash bag to bring along with you to place any trash you might make while hiking or camping. Pack it in – pack it out is your responsibility and one that you should take seriously while taking on camping adventures in the great outdoors. However, if you do come across a mess left by others, consider cleaning up the mess they leave as well. Sure, it may not be a mess you made, but cleaning it up helps you, the environment, and sets an example for anyone who comes behind you. No one wants to visit the wilderness only to find the remains of a thoughtless camper.