Zero Waste Camping

The past few months I have been really diving into going zero waste, and I’ve realized just how challenging it can be to break free from certain things. Especially when you’re trying to lead kids and a stubborn boyfriend with you. When everyone isn’t fully on board it can tend to pull you out of what you’re striving for.

Thankfully, as a mother I have the most control of the products we use, food we eat and activities we participate in. So for our zero waste camping trip it wasn’t any different. I took control of planning the trip, what was packed and what we ate but there still, there were times when things went off track.

We still ended up with trash and that pesky dreaded plastic but compared to the many camping trips we have taken before we reduced our waste immensely. This was our first trip as a family since Baby Lucas was born in December, so it was extra special to watch him experience the tent life and doing so in an environmentally friendly way.

Since we’ve done camping trips a couple times a year we have everything we needed as far as camping supplies. I really suggest seeing if you can borrow gear from family and friends before buying new. Also, check around and see if you can find anything used – I’m sure there’s plenty of people out there with camping gear in their garage they would love to sell!

I wish I took photos of what we brought but here’s what we used for 6 people:

  • Two tents (the max at most campsites here in FL)
  • 4 sleeping bags – it’s FL and hot nobody sleeps in these we sleep on them
  • 6 blankets. Usually 2-3 in each tent and then back ups because we learned things can get wet out here in the sunshine state.
  • 4 small foam sleeping mats – 2 in each tent
  • Our pillows from home – with our extra pillow cases
  • Lantern and kids flashlights that are normally stocked in our hurricane supply kit.

Other camping gear included:

  • Camping chairs
  • Rope for a clothes line – you’ll want this for towels & bathing suits if you’re swimming or it rains
  • Hammock – most places will let you hang up a hammock but not all, so be sure to ask.


  • Snacks – I’m lucky I have a local zero waste shop so I stocked up on pretzles, banana chips, peanuts, peanut butter & even some vegan candy.
  • I did a great trade with a great friend who owns a bakery in exchange for some of my detergent. She made us pumpkin bread, banana walnut bread and pumpkin cookies. The bread loaves came in handy for a quick breakfast and the cookies came in handy for me when I was driving between campsites.
  • I prepared things at home the night before we left like, rice, pasta baked potaotes, sweet potatoes, black beans and I cut up veggies like sweet peppers, cucumbers and lettuce
  • We brought plenty of fresh fruit & veggies like oranges, bananas, apples, avocadoes, plumbs, corn on the cob and a watermelon all from our local produce stand.

Non zero waste food:

  • 2 loaves of bread and tortillas wrapped in plastic bags
  • Dan bought himself beer so 24 cans over the weekend and a cardboard box. Suprisingly all the parks had aluminum recycling and we ended up burning the cardboard box as a fire starter.
  • S’mores – this is something I knew would be waste because I wasn’t giving up making s’mores with my kids while camping – I didn’t find a zero waste option but I did buy in bulk. Graham cracker box also used in the fire but the indivual plastic wrappers were trash. Marshemllow bag and Hershey chocolate bag were both trashed.
  • Dan also bought snacks such as goldfish and veggie squeeze pouches for when he drove the other kids up the second part of the trip.
  • We had a bag of chips as well along with plastic continers of salsa, guacamole, and hummus.
  • Pancake mix in a cardboard box

Aside from food, our biggest change was in our cooking/dinner supplies. Our trips were once filled with plastic water bottles, plastic cutlery, paper towels and paper plates is behind us. Not only did this save plastic from entering the landfills, it saved us money!

  • We each brought our own reusable water bottles
  • Silverware from home
  • Grilling tongs and spatula
  • Cast iron pan
  • Our spare set of plates and some bowls
  • Rags for cleaning
  • Seasonings from home – olive oil, salt & pepper

Overall at each campsite we had a very small amount of trash & one campsite we produced no trash at all!

It was so relaxing and rewarding not having to run to the dumpster every night to throw away a bag of trash. Just some simple preparation & a little motivation to do good went a long ways.

See my previous posts on which campsites we visited! Let me know some of your favorites!

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