One of the hardest transitions when planning a camping or rafting trip is moving from a plastic-free kitchen to the plastic-filled realm of outdoor kitchens. It seems that everything has the potential to be made of cancer causing materials (like BPA and DHEA). It is counter-intuitive to upholding your values of protecting our environment when purchasing single use items or products that are toxic to yourself, the land, air and water.
Great progress has been made by a number of outdoor companies that prioritize upholding their values and the effect their products have on the environment. Being an educated consumer allows you to make deliberate purchases that contribute to companies that hold production and operations to sustainable standards.
While it is not reasonable to find everything in organic cotton, you can feel comfort in your wearable outdoor gear that is made of post consumer product. Patagonia’s Worn Wear is a revolutionary concept in the outdoor retailer industry that every environmentalist, conservationist and green-hearted person can stand behind. They create long lasting products from recycled materials with their environmental impact at the forefront of their thought. Full transparency allows you to know how many liters of water it took to make the fleece you’re wearing and its source of origin. You can sleep better knowing that your favorite camping fleece was made under suitable working conditions with minimal environmental impact.
Avoiding BPA products and single-use items feels to be the most difficult in the kitchen, from dishes to frying pans to coolers. To ensure you are not placing your organic produce on a camping plate that will leach chemicals into your food, read the packaging before purchasing. Most companies will clearly label their products as “BPA Free” to show their commitment to offering clean products. Dishes made by companies such as GSI offer a lightweight yet durable and recyclable product. The GSI mugs make for great traveling. Consider using reusable, BPA Free Nalgene bottles and containers to store spices, sauces and other kitchen supplies instead of using one-time-use plastic bags. You might also consider transporting water in a hydration pack and avoid having to pack any cups.
Cleaning up in the outdoors can be tricky and can often seem like a lost cause. Often times, licking your bowl clean will leave you with little clean up in the kitchen, but then you’re left with having to clean your face. Opt for environmentally friendly, biodegradable soap like Dr. Bronner’s. A little bit of this potent soap goes a long way and, as the bottle will tell you, it can be used for just about anything. You can use it to bathe, wash your hands before a meal, wash your dishes or do a light load of laundry afters a few days spent outside. When used in small amounts, the soap is so mild and gentle that you don’t have to worry about letting it wash downstream. Consider replacing any harsh soaps, cleaners and shampoos in your home with some Dr. Bronner’s to be more gentle on yourself and others downstream from you.