Sanna Boman


Feb 16, 2024

Sustainable Camping Practices: How to Leave No Trace in the Outdoors

A trailer parked in a lush, foresty campsite with a water view
A trailer parked in a lush, foresty campsite with a water view
A trailer parked in a lush, foresty campsite with a water view
A trailer parked in a lush, foresty campsite with a water view

Photo: Sanna Boman

As anyone who’s tried to book a campsite in the past few years is likely painfully aware, camping has seen a huge boom in popularity since the start of the pandemic. It’s not surprising: Camping offers a way to disconnect from the stress of everyday life, reconnect with nature, and escape crowded cities. But with so many first-time campers heading out into the wilderness, the risk of damage to natural areas increases. 

And this is where the concept of leaving no trace comes in.

Leave No Trace (LNT) is an educational nonprofit organization that helps people care for the outdoors. Its seven principles are widely used as the standard for outdoor stewardship and protection. When it comes to sustainable and responsible camping, incorporating LNT’s principles into your mindset can make a big difference.  

Understanding Leave No Trace Principles 

Let’s take a closer look at each of the seven principles:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare: Research the area you’ll be camping in, understand regulations, and bring the necessary equipment to minimize environmental impact and stay safe.

  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces: Make sure to always stick to established trails and campsites to prevent damaging fragile ecosystems and disrupting wildlife habitats.

  3. Dispose of waste properly: Always pack out all trash, including food scraps and biodegradable waste, and properly dispose of human waste.

  4. Leave what you find: Allow others to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of nature by leaving natural objects and features untouched, including rocks, plants, and artifacts.

  5. Minimize campfire impacts: When cooking at camp, use lightweight camp stoves to avoid leaving lasting scars on the landscape or increasing the risk of wildfires.

  6. Respect wildlife: If you encounter wildlife, observe from a distance and avoid feeding or approaching animals. This helps minimize stress and disruption to their natural routines.

  7. Be considerate of other visitors: Be mindful of your fellow campers by respecting quiet hours, yielding to others on trails, and always fostering a welcoming and enjoyable outdoor community.

Using Sustainable Camping Gear and Practices

Knowing the basics of how to behave responsibly in the outdoors, how do we actually put these ideas into practice? Or, better yet, go beyond the basics and implement sustainable practices into every part of our adventures.

Here are a few ways to apply Leave No Trace principles to your camping routine.

1. Choose Eco-Friendly Camping Gear

When purchasing camping gear, consider spending the extra money on more durable equipment that can be used for years to come. In the same vein, solar-powered or rechargeable lanterns and other devices will keep you from needing to replace or dispose of batteries, and biodegradable soap and toiletries will keep both yourself and your surroundings clean.   

2. Use Responsible Methods when Cooking

While campfires add great ambiance, camp stoves come with smaller footprints and reduce the risk of wildfires. If you do opt for an open fire, in places where they are permitted, make sure to use established fire rings and ensure fires are fully extinguished before leaving camp or tucking in for the night. Additionally, always practice proper food storage to avoid attracting wildlife. 

3. Reduce and Dispose of Trash

Planning ahead goes a long way toward living more sustainably. When camping, you can reduce waste by meal planning ahead of time and bringing reusable food containers and utensils. At the end of the trip, make sure to carry out and properly dispose of all trash, including biodegradable waste.

4. Properly Dispose of Human Waste

You may be camping in an RV (or other self-sustained vehicle) or staying at a developed campground with bathrooms, but it’s still good to know how to properly dispose of human waste in the outdoors. Research local regulations, stay clear of water sources, and bring the proper supplies. For going number two, these can include a portable trowel for digging holes, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and a sealable bag for packing out the used toilet paper.   

Where to Start

If you’re new to camping and the outdoors, it can feel daunting to incorporate all these practices at once. But in the interest of creating good habits from the start, here are some things to keep in mind to help you become a more sustainable camper.

Leave No Trace is not about collecting points or gold stars. Rather, it’s a way to preserve natural areas for future generations, and to protect wildlife habitats and fragile ecosystems. It also helps make the outdoor experience more enjoyable for your fellow campers. Keeping these reasons in mind can help you make good choices in nature. 

It’s also helpful to remember that no one is perfect, and there’s always more to learn. Opening up conversations with your fellow campers and hikers can be a great way to gain new practical skills, as well as share your own experiences. Keep an open mind and be a steward for nature, and it will pay off in the long run. 

If you’re ready to take the next step and put sustainable camping practices to the test, Electric Outdoors is here to help. The EO Canopy is a first-of-its-kind off-grid camping platform powered entirely by sustainable energy sources. For the latest updates, and to find out when an EO Canopy might be coming to a campsite near you, follow us on Instagram and sign up for our newsletter below.


Sanna Boman

Sanna Boman is the head of marketing and content at Electric Outdoors. As an award-winning storyteller in the RV and outdoor industry, she is passionate about the future of camping and electric mobility.



Leave No Trace

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