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How to Stay Eco-Friendly When Camping

Few vacation ideas are as family-friendly as camping. When vacationing, families may be concerned about financing their trip. In camping, however, individuals often find an affordable vacation alternative both parents and kids can enjoy.

That affordability is why camping continues to be overwhelmingly popular. According to the Travel Industry Association of America, approximately 1 in 5 Americans went camping in 2008. While that's good news for outdoor enthusiasts, it's not always great news for the environment. When camping, campers need to remember to be clean and environmentally conscious. Even a campsite with maintenance staff needs to be treated like a remote spot in the woods with no one to clean it up. When camping, consider the following eco-friendly tips to ensure your vacation is as good for the environment as it is for the family.

• Purchase reusable cookware. Though you might not be in the comforts of your own kitchen, that doesn't mean you can't bring some reusable cookware with you to the campsite. Instead of paper plates, plastic utensils and foam cups, purchase some inexpensive reusable dishes, utensils and coffee mugs. Many camping stores sell supplies that will be exactly what you're looking for. Reusable items will greatly reduce the trash you produce and save you money over time.

• Don't forget to recycle, particularly when in a remote camping area. If you recycle at home you should bring that eco-conscious practice with you to the campsite. The campsite you visit may or may not have recycling bins, so bring some extra trash bags with you to separate your recyclable from garbage while in the woods.

• Cook around the fire. True campers will insist that meals are cooked over a fire they started themselves. However, families without a camping history often choose to bring along stoves that use propane or electricity to operate. Fuel-powered options are not as environmentally friendly as cooking over a fire. Wood is typically easy to gather around a campsite, and cooking over a fire lends a more genuine feel to any camping trip. Just be sure to properly extinguish any fire afterward.

• Sleep in tents. Most families already bring along tents, but those that don't often sleep in campers or RVs. While these might be more luxurious accommodations, they're also less environmentally friendly. RVs use more fuel than a car or smaller SUV and likely more electricity since many campers or RVs boast many of the same amenities of home. Kids will also likely prefer sleeping in tents than inside, as it's more fun and closer to a genuine camping experience than sleeping in a camper or RV.

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