Top tips for being a green camper in the UK, from foraging to minimizing waste

Heading into the great outdoors for a camping holiday this year, but still want to do your bit for the planet? Here are some top tips for making a trip more eco-friendly

Help the planet when you go camping
Help the planet when you go camping

campingGlamping and campervanning were the staycation hits of 2021 as traveling abroad remained a Covid challenge of form filling, crazy rule changes and expensive tests.

We fell in love with setting it up in the great British outdoors and it will be a popular choice again this year.

There are always things we can try when it comes to doing our bit for the planet. So as we start booking stays for 2022, this is an opportunity to think about how we can make a camping holiday more eco-friendly.

Changes don’t have to be big or expensive, they often just involve a little more thought before your vacation.

Strive to minimize your impact on the environment and live by the “leave no trace” principle, and you will do your part to protect nature.

We asked the experts at private campervan rental platform PaulCamper for their top tips for a greener getaway…

Don’t be a fuel nut

Check your tire pressure for fuel economy


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Let’s start with a simple one – optimize this by lightening your load, packing only the essentials and removing unnecessary weight from your campervan or RV.

Also, check tire pressure regularly and follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. When a tire is under-inflated, the vehicle has to work harder to move, which means it uses more fuel. More mpg is better for the planet… and your wallet!

Save your energy

Solar panels on campers and RVs are worth considering


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Just as we try to keep energy consumption down at home by checking smart meters, there are ways to make things better in an RV.

Swap out regular incandescent bulbs and light strips for LEDs as they produce less heat and more light, all at a lower cost.

If possible, build in the most energy-efficient models of appliances, such as microwaves and stoves. When not in use, switch off the device at the switch.

Reduce air conditioning use on hot days by parking in the shade. Find a spot in direct sunlight on colder days so you don’t have to use your heater as often. And consider an RV heater that uses solar energy.

Other solar powered devices you could use are small flashlights and customized roof panels or mobile panels/roll up solar blankets that you can place where needed to absorb the most sunlight.

Watch your waste

Try to avoid plastic cups and plates


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Keeping track of all your junk when you’re on the go and in a smaller space can be difficult. Always use the “leave no trace” principle when moving from one place to another.

Inspect your surroundings, make sure you have all your belongings with you and make sure all your rubbish has been stored or disposed of.

Here are ways to simplify this.

  • Bring reusable containers for storing leftovers to ensure food is not wasted.
  • Buy less packaged supermarket products and groceries so you have less packaging to throw away.
  • Don’t forget a refillable water bottle — many campgrounds end up littered with plastic water bottles or, worse, they end up in the ocean if not properly recycled.
  • Try to eliminate single-use items like plastic cutlery and cups. If you have no other choice, recycle these items properly.


Prepare for a call of nature


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Waste also includes human waste – and the most efficient way to dispose of it is by using a proper toilet, whether that is in a camper van or a campsite’s facilities.

If you don’t have access to these, it’s important to become familiar with ways to properly and considerately dispose of human waste in the wild.

It should always be disposed of far from water (at least 30 meters) and placed in a hole in the ground, away from campsites and hiking trails.

Using a garden trowel, dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches in diameter, cover and dress with natural materials when finished.

If you are camping in a group or in the same place for more than one night, spread the holes over a large area.

The same goes for dog feces. Campgrounds may have dog bins.

If you find yourself on an off-the-beaten-path hike, don’t leave it bagged by the side of the trail or hanging from a tree. Invest in a dog poop-proof hard shell container that attaches to your backpack, or if your dog is hiking with a backpack, you can slip the bag into one of the side pockets.

After all, dog poop can be buried just like human poop, following the same rules.

recycling rules

Make sure your waste is disposed of properly – leave no trace


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Bring separate clear bags for trash and recyclables so you can separate them along the way.

It also allows for easy sorting at recycling facilities.

Be aware of regulations in the areas you travel through so you know what you can and cannot recycle as each campground may have different regulations. And be ready to take your recycling home, as not all locations will have the right facilities.

game viewing

Make sure you stay in designated areas


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Do your best to respect wildlife and their surroundings – do not interfere and always observe from a safe distance.

Do not feed them human food even if you have leftovers and think they will go to waste. This will cause the animals to become dependent on the food and interfere with their natural foraging behavior.

It could also lead to animals stealing forage from campsites and, worse, can have health effects on the animals.

Staying in designated areas is important if you are an eco-friendly camper.

Resist the temptation to trek off the beaten track and stick to designated campgrounds and the approved trails.

This not only prevents disturbance of the terrain and damage to nature, but also protects you from possible dangers from animals.

Feed friendly

Try to forage for food in a friendly manner


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Whether you’re looking for berries or mushrooms, there are several rules and regulations you need to be aware of.

  • Don’t deprive an entire location with all its products – don’t take away more than you intend to consume.
  • You may not be the only one foraging for food, so make sure there is enough wildlife to survive and that plants can regenerate and reproduce as well.
  • Stick to the assigned paths to avoid trampling or damaging areas. Be careful not to damage the plant roots as uprooting can be harmful to them.
  • Some plant and fungus species are endangered or rare, so familiarize yourself with them before looking for food. Certain plants and mushrooms are protected by law and may not be picked.
  • Always make sure that foraging is allowed in the areas you go to.

And if you’re picking plants from areas that are off the beaten track, a permit must be obtained or you’ll be trespassing.

Remember that foraging is only allowed for wild plants, so stay away from anything planted by humans.

More info

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Fry Electronics Team

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