reusable bowl for camping oatmeal

Products To Help Minimize Waste While Camping

When camping, I’ve realized that we’ve resorted to convenience. And usually that means producing more plastic and paper waste than we normally do at home.

But with the help of some different simple products, we can substantially cut out the amount of trash we produce… which means less we have to carry out.

camping stove and klymit gear duffel
A camping stove was our most recent investment to create low waste car camping trips.

Camping stove and pans

We often relied on boiling water in our small backpacking stove, and making backpacking meals in a disposable package. While we sometimes still use these, we also splurged and got a large camping stove for car camping (which is what we do mostly anyways). 

We are able to cook more waste-free meals a little easier. Whether it’s frying up some veggies for stir fry or making potatoes for a breakfast burrito, it’s quite a bit easier to cook bulk veggies when you have a full-size stove. 

reusable bowl for camping oatmeal
Simple bowls and a set of silverware cuts down on plastic waste.

Reusable Silverware and Dining Wear

You may want to just bring paper plates and plastic cutlery for easy disposable, but it’s a lot better to just wash your dirty plates off quickly instead of adding to your trash. 

Keep it simple and small… have a plate, a bowl, a knife, a spoon, a fork, and a mug for each person, and that should do the trick. 


hydration bladder on teton national park hike
Water is important. Make sure to have more than enough… and make it sustainable.

5-7 Gallon Water jugs

Water is like the one thing you need to bring when going out, so might as well be stocked up with large jugs. You can find them for $10 – $20 at your local outdoor store, and it alleviates the need to stop at the gas station to grab large plastic water jugs. It also helps if you are not near a water source or do not have a water filter. 

We have usually just filled up all our large water bottles, but in order to make sure we have more than enough water for the weekend (including drinking, washing, and fire-smothering), these jugs will do the trick.

Reusable tea/ coffee steeper

This isn’t a necessity, but there’s nothing quite like a hot beverage during a brisk morning in the campsite. 

By bringing single steepers, everyone can easily have their own warm drink. Plus, they take up a small amount of room, and create zero synthetic waste (don’t forget to properly dispose of your grounds or leaves). 

rock climbing and camping in city of rocks, idaho
Old grungy towels can make an excellent substitute for paper towels when camping.

Old towels

Paper towels are very convenient, but it adds up when you are using paper towels for every little spill. 

Cut up old towels to make neat camping towels that can get dirty, and then throw them in the washer as soon as you get home. 

You still have to carry it out of you camping spot, so might as well be able to wash and reuse again and again. 

Flint and Steel Axe

I can’t even remember how many lighters we have bought. I can usually find anywhere from 2-5 lighters in our outdoor bags, and each of those little tools are made of plastic. While we still use lighters often, I am starting to think about how I can cut out these little plastic staples in our bag. 

Our friend had an awesome flint axe that you could create sparks with and start a butane stove. Plus, it’s an axe…. so sustainable and multipurpose. We have yet to invest in something like this, but it is good to start thinking about more things we can do to cut out plastic waste in our camping set-up. 


So next time you go camping, I am asking you to just think about all the little choices you can make to waste less, and pack out more. 


Your nacforadventurer, and conscious camper, 



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