The Guide to Eco-Friendly Backpacking

Many of us try to lead eco-conscious lifestyles at home – reducing the amount of packaging we throw away, recycling when possible, and eating responsibly-sourced food. However, staying green while you’re on the road is easier said than done – but really there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to enjoy yourself while travelling without harming the environment.

If you’ve finally decided to take the big plunge to explore your chosen destination, it’ll most likely be an exotic and far-flung place and flying there will be inevitable. Flying greatly increases your carbon footprint. However, if you are truly committed to being an eco-traveller, there are steps you can take to reduce it.

Here’s a quick guide to how to limit your impact on your surroundings while you’re enjoying the great outdoors.

Eco-Friendly Equipment

Your camping equipment is one area where it’s easy to make positive changes. Replace standard torches with LED-powered wind-up ones – then there are no batteries to worry about at all! Bring reusable cutlery and crockery rather than disposables to reduce waste, and be sure to wash them using biodegradable soap.

If you’re really venturing into places with uncleaned water sources, you’ll probably be using water purifying tablets. These are another eco-friendly grey area as some use harmful chemicals (iodine-based tablets are now banned in the EU). However, those tablets are much less harmful than bottled water!

Eco-Friendly Cooking

This can be a tricky area for the eco-conscious camper to navigate. Single-use barbecues aren’t very green – they use a lot of packaging that usually doesn’t get recycled, and the fumes can be polluting, but worst of all they tend to scorch the ground beneath them! A lightweight portable stove is a much better and safer option, but make sure you hold on to the butane cylinders so you can dispose of them properly once they’re empty.

Some campsites have fire rings where you can build a campfire – if you decide to make use of this, forage for dry, dead wood rather than snapping branches off trees (which won’t burn well anyways).

Another great tip is to befriend a fellow traveller and cook your meals together.

Eco-Friendly Travel

Obviously the most eco-friendly way to explore a new destination is on foot. But, for longer trips, consider hiring a bicycle. This is this an extremely eco-friendly way to travel but that comes with the added bonus of keeping you in shape.


We all know the importance of having fresh clean drinking water, especially while travelling. Use an aluminium drinking bottle and and avoid buying bottled water, which is one of the world’s biggest sources of waste.


It goes without saying that you should collect any rubbish generated by your stay into a bag until you can find a bin to dispose of it, but while you’re at it why not pick up other people’s too? Some campsites and hostels now have recycling stations, so make use of these if you can.

Eco-Friendly Washing

Just because you are travelling that doesn’t mean that you can slack on your personal hygiene. It’s important to keep not only your body clean, but also your clothes. You can conserve water by taking short showers. Try to keep them to under 2 minutes if you can. Also, try to wait until you have a full load of dirty clothes before washing them to avoid doing half loads and wasting energy and water. If you don’t have enough clothes for a full load, why not ask a fellow traveller to share? You can save a bit of money while you’re at it.

These simple but effective tips will ensure while you’re travelling you will slowly off set your flight carbon footprint.

Do you have any tips that I missed?   

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