A Message From The Zero Waste Team: Keep Campgrounds Clean and Beautiful

Put out any campfires with water. Preventing wildfires is key to safety, health and long-term sustainability. Only YOU can prevent forest fires. Photo by Angelica Gurule


  • Zero Waste Tip: Put out any campfires with water. Preventing wildfires is key to safety, health and long-term sustainability. Smoky the Bear was not kidding when he said, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires!”

Whether it is to disconnect from technology, revitalize relationships, or to learn how to build a fire, pitch a tent, or read a compass, camping is a great summer activity to do with friends and family.

Camping means different things to different people, but we all should have one goal in common when we are wrapping up camp – leave the campground like no one was even there. This means cleaning up after ourselves.

When packing for your trip, think about reducing litter at the source before you leave town.

Think zero waste and try these tips for your next trip:

  • Bring reusable everything – dishes, utensils, serving items, napkins, dish rags, towels, and handkerchiefs.
  • Bring containers to dispose of compostable items, recycle and trash. Remember, recycling must be clean. Also, keep all food and waste in bear-proof containers.
  • Bring what you can in reusable containers. Purchase food in containers that can easily be recycled (cans and boxes rather than plastic-wrapped).
  • Use the melted ice (now water) in your cooler to water plants, boil to wash dishes, or use for drinking water for pets.
  • Use natural “solar shower” by letting the sun heat the water you use, and install solar panels on your camper, car, or backpack (yes, these exist!).
  • Bring bio-degradable soap for dishes and washing up, and a fine mesh strainer (nylon stockings also work well) to screen out small food particles from wastewater.

Add this packing list to your phone to ensure your camping experience is zero waste:

  • Reusable plates and bowls for eating and serving.
  • Reusable utensils for eating and serving.
  • Cloth napkins, dish washing rags/scrubbers, dish towels, and handkerchiefs.
  • Container(s) for collecting food scraps/compost (yogurt tubs or similar work well).
  • Container(s) for recycling and trash.
  • Reusable cooler (if you do not have one, check the many “buy nothing” sites on FB and other online platforms, or borrow from a friend or neighbor).

New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment and not the Land of Trash. As proud New Mexicans we should continue to keep New Mexico beautiful and enchanting by picking up after ourselves and practice Toss No Mas.

For more tips on how to practice Zero Waste check out the Zero Waste Los Alamos Facebook page, the Zero Waste tab on the Los Alamos County Environmental Services Webpage (www.losalamosnm.us/gogreen), or email the Zero Waste team at zerowaste@lacnm.us for any questions or tips.