Take a Hike, Plastic!  Minimizing Waste on Your Next Outdoor Adventure

The sunshine is out and so are we! Hiking season is officially in full swing and guess what? So is #PlasticFreeJuly! As we gear up to head out into the forests, mountains, oceans and all the other natural playgrounds we’re lucky to explore here in Canada, now is a great time to take pause and evaluate how impactful our outdoor adventures may be. “Leave only footprints, take only memories” is a fairly well-known phrase in the hiking community, but why stop there? Why not avoid the risk of leaving garbage and plastic entirely? Check out these #plasticfree and #zerowaste swaps before your next hike!

Reusable Water Bottle

This one seems like a no-brainer, but as a person who has always lived a faucet away from clean drinking water, it’s always good to remember that not everyone has that luxury. Whether you’re a local, a newcomer or just visiting, it pays to invest in a quality, durable water bottle for your outdoor adventures, or even just your desk at work. The classic Nalgene is great for everyday use and is definitely my tried-and-true favourite. If you’re trying to conserve space, I love the Hydrapak Stash Bottle with its hard top and squishable soft, flexible body. 

Bonus Points: BPA-free!

Beeswax Wraps 

You may have seen these floating around zero-waste blogs and community markets, but they’re more than just a cute addition to a package-free Instagram post. These babies are the bees knees*! Wrap half an onion at home, or fold up a PB&J before you head out to Garibaldi. Many people swear by the Abeego brand as it’s pliable enough to wrap anything and you can buy a variety of sizes. I’m also an Abeego fan, but I prefer going the DIY route; it’s a great opportunity to use up scrap fabric and you can host a beeswax-wrap making party to get everyone in on the sustainable fun. 

*No bee joints or appendages were harmed in the making of the blog post

Photo credit: Aaron Burden

Photo credit: Aaron Burden

Ah, sunscreen. That zinc-y, chemical laden protector that has recently come under fire for its not so coral-friendly properties. Even the ocean certified brands come in plastic bottles, so whether you aerosol spritz or go the squirt and slather route, pesky plastic seems hard to avoid. But alark, there’s a better way! A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to make my own sunscreen with the Soap Dispensary! While I was super stoked to make it, I must confess that I was a little skeptical of the actual effectiveness of my little jar of goop. After a full day out in the sun in Golden Ears, however, I was fully convinced and totally burn-free. If you’re still a little iffy on the idea of making it yourself, the Soap Dispensary also does sunscreen refills as do many other zero-waste shops across Canada. 

Reusable Zip Top Bag

Once you’ve caught the hiking bug, it’s tough to stop thinking about future ascents, scrambles, and craggy climbs. Short hikes become day hikes and before long you’re trudging up a narrow slope on day 3 of a week-long trek. One of the best parts about multi-day hikes is planning the meals - it becomes a balancing act of flavour, nutritional value, calories and of course, total weight. No matter what your palette dictates, swap the pre-made and pre-packaged for homemade with these Stasher bags to skip the waste and maintain the tasty. You can pack and cook your food all in one, so these are great for oatmeal, chili, pudding or whatever else your hiking heart desires. Paper bags are also a great lightweight option to carry meals before popping them into the Stasher bag or a camping pot. 

Look at that cozy little sammie in its Stasher bag! Photo credit: MEC

Look at that cozy little sammie in its Stasher bag! Photo credit: MEC

Collapsible Mug

I love my reusable mug. I really, really do. All beverage, no single-use beverage cup = YES. What I don’t love about it though, is the space that it takes up in my bag, wedged in beside my agenda, cutlery, odds and ends, and snacks. Is a bag really a bag if it isn’t filled with random food items? Not in my books. So if the snacks are staying put, what’s a coffee-loving gal to do? Enter: the STOJO collapsible pocket cup. Not only does it pack down to 4.5cm, but it also comes with its own silicone straw. Iced coffee drinkers rejoice! If versatility is your jam, the Collapsible Fairshare Mug boasts greater volume (read: more space for sweet, sweet bean water) and doubles as a bowl. Either way, both options pack down nicely and let you guzzle all the java without any of the waste. 

Homemade Energy Balls

You’ve just crested the top of a mountain and after 7 hours of uphill, you are HUNGRY. Out come the apples and the trail mix and the mylar wrapped granola/power/calorie-dense bars. I’m not one to turn down a chocolatey, energy-packed snack, but if there’s a superior option, you better believe that I’m going for it. I stumbled upon these ahhhmazing energy balls geniused up by Evergreen Kitchen. They’re super tasty, super easy and super plastic-free, plus they’re full of peanut buttery goodness. Did I mention they’re perfect for sharing? That makes these little beauties a great snack to make friends on your next ActiveDays adventure!

TFW you can’t resist taking a bite before taking a photo. Photo credit: Evergreen Kitchen

TFW you can’t resist taking a bite before taking a photo. Photo credit: Evergreen Kitchen

P.S. Check out their Vegan Carmelitas recipe, my dad and I used to be obsessed with these, but they’re oddly tough to find now. I’m going to surprise him with a batch for his birthday!

Bug Repellent

I was heavily admonished by a friend from Ontario when I complained about the bugs in B.C., so while I can’t grumble too vigorously about my bug bites, I still don’t like those red, itchy welts! So what’s a human feeding trough to do then, whether the mosquito population is 10, or 10,000? Skip the store-bought sprays, for one, and instead stock up a few common essential oils. Homemade bug spray/repellent is easy-peasy to whip up and makes you smell like a hippie dreamboat to boot. This recipe is Costa Rica-approved, so it should be pretty surefire here in Vancouver with our (apparently) paltry pest population. The Soap Dispensary also carries bug spray refills if you’re pressed for time.  

Trash Bag

Okay, I know, this one sounds a little counter-intuitive, but bear with me. After all your zero-waste undertakings, a trash bag may seem totally unnecessary, but unfortunately, litter is still problematic, despite all our reusable, refillable and renewable efforts. This is especially true in iconic outdoor locales, like Joffre Lakes, where high visitorship can mean tons of trash. Just recently a pair of local hikers packed out 40 pounds of trash in the Upper Joffre Lakes campground. Gross? Yes. Avoidable? Totally! Going zero-waste helps us maintain campgrounds, reduce our footprint, and contribute to a healthy, vibrant natural world. Not everyone is there yet though, so a bag for errant litter is always a good idea to have on hand. Not only are you keeping trash out of parks, but you’re also modelling great behaviour and you might even spark up a good zero-waste discussion. 

One Parkbus rider putting pollution in it’s place!

One Parkbus rider putting pollution in it’s place!

Remember, it’s not a small group doing zero-waste perfectly, but rather everyone doing it imperfectly. How do you #explore #plasticfree? Let us know!