Tips for a Sustainable Adventure - Next Mile Meals

Tips for a Sustainable Adventure

For us and so many others, backpacking and camping provide an escape into nature, a chance to disconnect from daily life and reconnect with the environment. However, these activities can also have a non-zero impact on the ecosystems we visit. As adventurers and stewards of the environment, it's essential to make eco-friendly choices that preserve the natural beauty and vitality of our wild spaces. Here are some tips for how we here at Next Mile Meals do our best to be more environmentally conscious when backpacking and camping.

1. Follow the "Leave No Trace" Principles

Yeah, yeah… we’ve all hard the phrase “Leave No Trace”, but how well do you adhere to all seven principles?:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare: Good preparation minimizes damage to the environment by reducing chances of needing to make environmentally costly decisions in a pinch.
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Stick to established trails and campsites to avoid damaging undergrowth and soil.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly: Pack out all your trash, including organic waste like fruit peels and coffee grounds, and properly dig a cathole where permitted.
  • Leave What You Find: Avoid picking plants or moving rocks and other natural features.
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts: Use a lightweight stove for cooking and only make a campfire in a designated area with pre-existing fire rings.
  • Respect Wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance and do not feed them to avoid altering their natural behaviors.
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Keep noise levels down and be respectful of other users of the outdoors.

2. Opt for Sustainable Gear

Investing in high-quality, durable gear is more eco-friendly as it lasts longer and needs to be replaced less frequently. Look for brands committed to sustainability through the use of recycled materials and ethical manufacturing processes. Additionally, consider buying gear second-hand or renting equipment for occasional trips.

3. Reduce Single-Use Plastics

Plastic waste is a significant environmental problem. As a backpacker, you can minimize your plastic footprint by:

  • Reusing water bottles and finding reusable purification methods instead of bottled water.
  • Packing snacks in reusable containers instead of ziplock bags.
  • Choosing products with minimal packaging or buying in bulk.

Here at Next Mile Meals, this is the category we are constantly keeping an eye on to improve our own impact on the environment. While we can’t reduce our packaging without impacting shelf-life and food preservation, we try to offset it by using more recyclable materials in our manufacturing process and warehouse. We keep a constant eye on food packaging for new technologies that will let us further reduce our own impact on the environment.

4. Use Biodegradable Products

From soaps to toothpaste, the products you bring on your trip can impact the environment, especially in water sources. Opt for biodegradable and phosphate-free soaps and sunscreens to minimize your chemical impact on the ecosystems you visit and don’t bathe/wash dishes or clothes in water sources like lakes, streams, and rivers.

5. Manage Food Waste and Water Use

Plan your meals to minimize waste by bringing only what you need and focusing on non-perishable foods that require minimal cooking and water. Be mindful of water sources; use small amounts of water for cleaning, and if you must wash dishes or clothing, do so at least 200 feet away from streams or lakes to avoid contaminating them.

6. Choose Eco-friendly Transportation

The journey to your backpacking or camping destination can also impact the environment. Carpooling, using public transportation, or choosing destinations closer to home can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Additionally, consider destinations less frequented by tourists to help alleviate over-tourism, which can lead to environmental degradation.

7. Support Conservation Efforts

Many natural areas are maintained by local or national parks and conservation organizations. You can support these groups by paying entrance fees, making donations, or volunteering. This funding helps them maintain trails, provide education, and conduct conservation work. Next Mile Meals’ customers have donated thousands of dollars to support the efforts of the PCTA: every dollar you donate at checkout is matched, helping each donation do more.

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