Today’s youth are participating in climate change activism in large numbers. Environmentalism is a value many of your campers are likely to share, and implementing sustainable practices will appeal to them.
Undertaking sustainability projects is also a great opportunity to teach younger kids easy ways to care for the environment. From a business standpoint, instituting more sustainable practices can save your camp money, too. Read on for some easy and effective ways to make your camp more sustainable.
Occupancy Sensors in Cabins
Kids are notorious for leaving the lights on after they’ve exited a room. The energy that’s wasted by lighting an unoccupied room really adds up at camp, where there may be dozens of cabins to light. But there’s an easy solution to stop this unnecessary use: occupancy sensors. According to the Department of Energy, it’s possible to cut wasted lighting energy by 30% by installing occupancy sensors. This low-cost device works by detecting movement in the room and switching the lights off when the space is vacant.
Use LED Light Bulbs
Another simple way to reduce energy use and lower your camp’s electricity bill is to replace inefficient incandescent bulbs with LED light bulbs. The Department of Energy says that LED bulbs use 25% to 80% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last three to 25 times longer (the same savings can be seen with CFL and halogen incandescent bulbs). By using more efficient light bulbs your camp will not only save on the energy bill but will also save money over time by purchasing light bulbs less frequently.
Compost Cafeteria Food
Food waste is a huge problem at many camps. Throwing food away is a waste of money and is problematic for the environment because food rotting away in landfills produces methane. When your camp composts cafeteria food, you’ll not only reduce your need for garbage pickups but you can turn that uneaten food into rich, organic fertilizer that can be used in the camp garden or on camp grounds. Composting is easy, the kids can get involved and there are quite a few food and non-food items that can be composted in a simple backyard composting bin.
This seems like an obvious one, but recycling bins should be present and visible beside every trashcan at your camp. When your camp recycles, you’re doing your part to keep items out of the landfill and reducing the need for new materials to be taken from the earth to make new products.
Buy Recycled Products
Speaking of recycling, close the loop and take your commitment to recycling one step further by purchasing recycled products. Everything from the toilet paper you stock in the camp bathrooms to the paper you print in the camp office can be made with postconsumer content. Aim for items that are made with 100% postconsumer content. Paper products made with postconsumer materials save trees and reduce the chemicals, energy and water needed to produce virgin paper products.
Use Green Cleaning Products
Green cleaning products are not only gentler on the environment but are better for kids who are vulnerable to harsh chemicals, too. Traditional cleaning products are filled will volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that have a negative impact on indoor air quality and can cause eye and lung irritation in campers. Greener cleaning products don’t have any of the side effects of harsher cleaning products but will get your camp just as clean.
Buy Local and Organic Food—or Grow Your Own
Serving local and organic food in your cafeteria not only supports local farmers, but it’s good for the environment, too. Producing food that is laden with fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Even better, take the nutrient-rich compost you’ve created by composting your cafeteria food and use it to grow your own local and organic food right at camp.
Involve the Kids
No matter the sustainable practices you decide to implement at camp, you’d be missing an important educational moment if you don’t get the campers involved. Not only can your campers help implement the initiatives you put into place, learning along the way how to implement the same initiatives at home, but they can help brainstorm ways to make camp more sustainable, too. Asking for their participation will ensure their commitment to keeping camp as sustainable as possible and they may even have some amazing ideas that didn’t make it on this list.