Camping Hacks: Plastic Free July

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

So as promised, this week’s post is a recap of how we pulled off a Plastic Free July style camping trip. Now, a couple of readers asked me if we were completely eliminating our use of plastic for the month of July or if we were just not accumulating any additional plastic in July, so to clarify we are not accumulating (ie. buying products in plastic or synthetic fibers and we are avoiding one-time-use plastic such as straws, personal care products and coffee cup lids).

As a huge fan of the zero waste movement I am always impressed and wooed by the glass lined shelves of zero-waster pantries, glass straws and cotton hankies, but the pragmatic side of me reminds myself that it would be contrary and wasteful of us to empty our house of useful and usable items in order to replace all of them with glass or wood options all at once. Purging our home of plastic would be difficult and expensive to do in one fell swoop, so to counter this we have taken the position of steady replacement. That is, when something reaches the end of its life, we then choose to replace it with something sustainably made and of quality. This ensures that the final goal is completed, but our bank account and the environment don’t take a huge hit.

So, back to our Plastic Free July camping trip, I have to say it was a major success!

The first step to any successful project is always preparation. The first thing I did was a thorough multi-day meal plan, and for us that meant simpler the better. Some people really enjoy the process of cooking outdoors and preparing food: not us. We enjoy a lot of lounging, napping and staring off into space when camping. So, creating a simple breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks menu was essential. It looked like this:

Day 1:

  • Breakfast- at home
  • Lunch- on the road (we stopped for sub sandwiches, sans packaging)
  • Dinner- Spinach and sundried tomato turkey smokies, creamy dill potato salad, veggie sticks

Day 2:

  • Breakfast- muffins/banana bread, coffee
  • Lunch – Teriyaki chicken dehydrated meal (needed to be eaten as it was approaching its expiry)
  • Dinner- Jalapeno pineapple chicken smokies, creamy dill potato salad, veggie sticks

Day 3:

  • Breakfast- banana bread, fruit, coffee
  • Lunch- Protein bites on the road
  • Dinner- on the road (we stopped for Triple O’s waiting for traffic to die down)


  • DIY trail mix – soy nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, M&M’s, Reese Bites
  • Dried fruit- apricots, apples, bananas, dates
  • Bulk chips

Inventive dinners? Doesn’t sound like it, but that was actually the plan. By making such similar dinners, it cut down on packaging and preparation time. The potato salad came from the deli section of my grocery store, where I asked for it to be put directly into my pyrex container (which I packed as is)- Side note: I think I broke the deli workers brain when I asked her to do that. She just stared for a few seconds and said “in 22 years, no one has ever asked me to put it in their own container… but… I guess why not?! You can just serve it like that!” And that’s exactly what we did.

The notion of shopping for this trip without plastic seemed daunting at first, but once I put my mind to it, it was fairly simple. The goal was: buy bulk only, use my own containers/bags, and have the smokies wrapped in paper from the butcher (I went to Meridian Meats). Even our buns came from the bakery and I just put them directly into our Bread Armor bag at the store.

As for beverages, we opted for a 10 liter refillable water jug and limes for flavouring and our own water bottles instead of bottled water. We brought coffee grinds and our bodem instead of single serve instant coffee (yuck). And lastly we opted for bottled or canned alcoholic beverages instead of spirits which would have required soda for mixing.

Our coolers were cooled with reusable ice packs, a Bread Armor bag filled with ice brought from home and several frozen water bottles (plastic reusable ones). However, due to the extreme heat, by the second evening we were forced to purchase a bag of ice to replace our quickly melting homemade ice.

In addition to our camping food and beverages, we tried to keep the rest of our camping supplies disposable-plastic free. I recently purchased a set of metal cutlery and last year we purchased these fun plates by Zak Design made from recycled plastics last year for camping. We ditched the red solo cups for a more adult set of camping wine glasses and metal mugs with our names etched into them.

Other things we did to keep our trip environmentally friendly were to eliminate harmful detergents from our gear since they are deposited directly into the environment. We utilized the DIY Wet Wipes to clean the table and ourselves instead of buying synthetic wet wipes, swapped traditional dish soap for Dr.Bronners castile soap and used J-cloths instead of paper towels, and used sulphate free shampoos and conditioners (I personally love Alaffia products).

Overall, it was an enlightening experience! I realised that majority of our camping supplies are plastic, which makes me wonder was a true plastic free trip would look like. 
Have any questions for me? Comment below! I would love to hear from you and your personal camping hacks.

Cheers- Heather 

2 Comments on “Camping Hacks: Plastic Free July

  1. Wow…. I really love your article, it is very informative and educating.

  2. We love the Zac Design products. The kids have heaps of them, I didn’t realise they did ones you use for camping though. I will have to find some for our next camping trip.

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