Zero Waste Guide for Day Hikers
We practice “leave no trace” on the trails, and we know how to “pack-it-out,” but what about reducing, recycling, and reusing what we pack-in? After all, what better way to show our love for Colorado’s great outdoors?
Over the summer, I’ve been refining my Zero Waste hiking techniques with help from friends. Here are some tricks I’ve learned about carrying food and water on the trail that have worked well for me. I hope they’ll work for you, too.
Swap out the single-use plastic water bottle and get a reusable one—stainless steel bottles, hydro-packs, there are oodles of options. If you’re going for reusable plastic, make sure it’s BPA-free. If you’re interested in a light-weight aluminum bottle, be aware that they are lined to prevent leaching and look for those that are lined with bpa-free plastic.
For trail snacks, fill up a reusable container with your favorite trail mix from the grocery store’s bulk aisle instead of buying individual servings in non-recyclable packaging.
Along those same lines, you could pack your sandwich in a reusable container to eliminate the plastic bag waste. OR you could invest in a cloth snack bag, such as eco•ditty or Wrap-N-Mat, which are as lightweight as a Ziploc bag and can be washed and reused easily.
If you absolutely can’t get around the Ziploc bags, if they're CLEAN and DRY, recycle them later at Eco-Cycle’s CHaRM, the Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials.
Granola and energy bars are great but to avoid the plastic packaging, you could make your own bars, which isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. You can actually make them from four simple ingredients—oatmeal/honey/bananas/peanuts—and put them in a reusable container. OR if you don’t want to make your own, you could sign up for a TerraCycle recycling brigade program. After you collect 500 or so energy bar wrappers, you can mail them in for recycling. (Check out their website for the specific energy bar wrappers they accept.)
A few simple habit changes can make a real difference!