5 Great Waste Reduction Tips for Camping and Picnicking This Summer

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5 Great Waste Reduction Tips for Camping and Picnicking This Summer

Girls on vacation camping with tents listening girl playing guitar

Recycling at home with your purple cart is an easy and convenient way to take direct action towards preserving and protecting the environment. Recycling conserves resources, preserves animal habitat, reduces pollution and results in a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

With Colorado’s prime camping and picnicking season already upon us, it’s a perfect time to explore the great outdoors. And whether your travels take you outside of Denver or not, it’s important to keep waste reduction in mind while you’re on the road and on the trail.

Here are 5 quick recycling hacks and waste reduction reminders for your summer outings:

  1. Plan and Prep Food Ahead of Time. Prepping your food in advance and packing in reusable containers will allow you to recycle food packaging at home and reduce waste generated while picnicking in the park or camping in the backcountry. TIP: Reusable plastic containers are great for outdoor settings – they’re both durable and lightweight!
  2. Use Reusables. Encourage members of your group to bring their own reusable plates, cups and cutlery to outdoor outings. REMINDER: Paper and Styrofoam cups, plates and bowls, as well as disposable cutlery, are not recyclable in the Denver Recycles program. Avoid purchasing and using these items whenever you can.
  3. Pack it Out. Not all parks, campgrounds or trailheads offer recycling collection services, so don’t be afraid to bring your recyclables home with you. The same can be done with compostable items for residents with the Denver Composts program or backyard compost piles. REMINDER: If you collected recyclables and/or compostable material in plastic bags while in the woods, these materials must be placed loosely in your recycle and compost carts (no plastic bags are allowed in either cart!). Also, remember to always follow recommended food and waste storage protocols set by each park or land manager to further minimize your impact on wildlife.
  4. Bring and Designate a Bag or Box for Recyclables. As a rule of thumb, wherever there’s a trash bag, there should also be a recycling bag or container. Take the lead, and volunteer to manage the trash and recycling station on your next group outing. AGAIN: Plastic bags are NOT accepted in recycle carts, so be sure to also take the lead on emptying materials directly into your cart when you get home.
  5. Food is Litter Too. Just because our food scraps are biodegradable, it doesn’t mean that orange peels and apple cores can be left behind in picnic areas or along trails. Not only is feeding wildlife harmful for wildlife and people, other users of the outdoors don’t want to see your trail of waste! Bring food waste home and compost it instead. TIP: Learn more about the “Leave No Trace” Center for Outdoor Ethics at https://lnt.org/.

Recycling is by far one of the easiest ways people can be active stewards of the environment. Take your efforts to the next level by recycling and composting while enjoying nature. For additional tips related to waste reduction and recycling, please visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).

*Photo used from Mile-Hi Rafting.