How to Camp Waste-Free: Our zero-waste camping challenge

by Emily Carlstrom

Attempting to be waste free has its challenges – single use plastic is everywhere. In our day to day lives we are well versed in minimising our plastic waste but we were recently faced with the challenge of camping waste - free. Camping seems to bring out the worst in peoples’ plastic consumption – lots of takeaway, snacks, bottled water, disposable cutlery and plates. Below I've shared how we tried to limit our single-use plastic waste whilst camping over Easter.


Preparation is key - the weekend before we left, we got productive in the kitchen. We prepared key things that could be versatile and included in brekkie, lunch or dinner. We made two loaves of sourdough bread, our own hot cross buns, protein balls, muesli, pasta sauce and peanut butter. We pretty much ate that bread every morning and also included it in lunch. Avo on toast, sandwiches, scrambled eggs, you name it! We also planned out the meals we were going to cook and bought only the fresh food we needed to make those meals. This also minimised our fresh produce waste.

Any food prep would not be complete without a trip to The Source Bulk Foods – this is where we buy all of our grains, seeds, spices and superfoods waste-free. We stocked up on nuts and seeds to snack on as well as bought all of the ingredients for our bread, protein balls and muesli.

Take your reusables with you! For us, this was our water bottles, cutlery, plates and our gold KAPPI stainless steel straws.

Don’t fall into the trap of having to buy takeaway coffees - Every morning we boiled water on our camp stove and made long blacks with our Wacaco minispresso coffee maker (awesome if you are shattered about not being able to take your coffee machine with you on the road, like my husband). It makes an awesome espresso and you honestly could not tell the difference from our coffee machine at home, but this bad boy fits in the palm of your hand.

However, even with all of our organising, we still made mistakes and there were a few sources of plastic waste we struggled to find an alternative to with the equipment we had on hand:

  • Ice for our eski – unfortunately we couldn’t see a way around this and produced plastic waste from our bags of ice. For our next trip, we are investing in a camping fridge which will eliminate plastic ice bags for good!
  • 10L water dispenser – we weren’t sure of where we would find fresh water next so stocked up on two 10L water plastic dispensers from Coles. Next time, we are going to refill these containers while we continue searching for a stainless steel portable water container large enough for our water-holic needs.
  •  Dinner to go in Styrofoam containers – unfortunately the one time we did buy takeout on our whole trip it came packaged in a Styrofoam container. We were devastated when we saw it come out. Honestly, at the time we were so brain dead from driving we failed to ask how the burgers would be packaged.
  • After a long hot day at the beach we both devoured an icy pole from the service station - this waste was entirely avoidable.


So we had an epic trip, ate lots of yummy food AND managed to keep our impact on the environment minimal – I would love to hear how you minimise your waste while you are travelling. 

Emily xxx

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