How do you approach Zero Waste when you’re out walking or camping?
At Easter we made the most of the public holiday weekend and headed out on one of the best hikes in Tasmania. Located in the Tasmanian highlands the Walls of Jerusalem is an old and elegant alpine area. In order to have a full zero waste camping experience, we carefully chose what we took with us to achieve our goal to leave no trace. With limited tools and ability to carry food, we had to be very prepared to go on this Zero Waste bushwalk.
One of the biggest Zero Waste challenges started before we left. As Sustomers we’re all about Zero Waste living, no single use plastic and leaving no trace. Food was the biggest Zero Waste challenge, most bush walking specific food is designed to be light, easy to cook and nutritious. Unfortunately, it mainly comes in plastic, with a vegetarian and a ceoliac on board we had to think outside the box to get a Zero Waste, nutritious and delicious menu!
Where we could we purchased products in cardboard, tins or without packaging rather than plastic, we packed everything into reusable containers, Sustomi beeswax food wraps and bento bags. We ended up carrying up a little bit more weight in and out with containers rather than ziplock bags or plastic, but the wraps worked well as we could reuse them each day for our lunch. We also took a Sustomi Lunch Bag with us as well, this was fantastic as it helped to protect our lunch from getting crushed in our bags.
One of the Zero Waste highlights was our beeswax wrap protected chocolate for Easter Sunday. A group of our fellow campers lost their Easter eggs to a hungry possum, we feel that the beeswax wraps may have saved our chocolate!
The national parks in Tasmania have a zero tolerance on waste, everything you take in you take out. Leave no trace. This is essential to preserve our natural flora and fauna but did mean we had to hang onto each apple core, banana skin or tuna can and compost or recycle them at home.
How we saved plastic:
- We used reusable containers, such as reused, lightweight take away containers.
- When shopping for our trip we were conscious to purchase everything we could package free (from our local bulk food shop) or in recyclable packaging. Planning ahead was essential here – see a zero waste meal plan below.
- Reusable drink bottles were a must! Luckily, many bushwalks in Tasmania have the fresh drinking water readily accessible.
- We avoided glad wrap, naturally! With Beeswax wraps and lunch bags.\
Food inevitably involves the most planning when camping zero waste. Here are a few things that were on our zero waste bushwalk menu:
- Breakfast: Muesli packed in reusable take away containers or calico drawstring produce bags.
- Lunch: sandwiches made with locally baked buns home grown tomatoes, lettuce and package free cheese from the deli.
- Dinner: Rice with fresh veggies and cans of tuna (recyclable)
- Snacks: apples, home made muesli bars and trail mix from the local bulk food shop
- Sweets: chocolate (it was Easter, after all!)
Where we used plastic on our hike:
- We lined our packs with specially designed reusable pack liners. The pack liners are designed to keep the inner contents of your bag dry. The pack liner has an added bonus, if someone gets sick or injured on the trip you empty your pack, put them in their sleeping bag then into the pack liner. This helps to keep them warm and dry and when your in trouble in the wild, can be very important.
- To protect our socks in case our boots got wet. We took re-usable plastic bags, but because of the glorious Tasmanian weather we didn’t end up using them (luckily!).
How can you do it waste free? Here are our top tips on going bushwalking zero waste:
- Plan your meals to include ingredients you can buy at your bulk food store
- Dehydrate your own food – meals, curries, broccoli, jerky. Seal in reusable vacuum bag, or in reusable silicon bags for shorter trips.
- For snacks, such as scroggin, muesli bars and lollies that usually come in plastic can alternatively all be purchased in bulk from your local wholefoods store.
- In addition to food, toiletry and sanitary needs are another potential waste producing activity. Take some eco-friendly toilet paper and girls, use a reusable sanitary cup for that time of the month.
- Don’t be fussy about cleaning. If you must wash yourself, avoid sanitising wipes! Take a hanky for your nose and a small washer for anything else you’d use tissues or baby wipes for.
Overall we had a fantastic weekend, in typical Tasmanian style it rained a little on the way in and out and was very cold at night, but we returned with smiles on our faces, just a few tuna cans to be put into the recycling and apple cores for the compost.