Last year’s new year resolution
I’m not really a new year’s resolution type of girl. Mainly because I don’t have a good success rate, but this year I did manage to complete (just about) the new year’s resolution (some might call it a challenge) I set in January 2023.
I didn’t shop in supermarkets for a whole year.
Not really an outdoor adventure resolution though Fi!
You’re right of course; although my supermarket-free challenge did take me outside (gardening and foraging for food) it sometime felt more like survival than adventure.
It was however, a green new year’s resolution.
With far less packaging, ultra processed food, and food miles, I’m convinced my carbon footprint for 2023 will have been lower than it has been for a long time.
You’ll have to head over to my supermarket-free page to find out why I decided to take such an unusual step.
Sustainable new year’s resolutions for outdoorists
As a freelance outdoor writer, instructor and (more recently) train adventurer, I do spend a lot of time outdoors.
Full of this year’s success, I would like to find another resolution that would, not only reflect my outdoor lifestyle, but benefit the planet.
This is perhaps not altogether altruistic.
Because most of the sustainable decisions I make also seem to save me money.
Saving the planet one tent peg at a time
Tent pegs, by the way, are very useful things. This was confirmed during a Dartmoor bivvy, when I had to use my spoon to hold my tarp out because I had left all my tent pegs at home.
Pay attention Fi!
Okay, so that was an aside. What we’re really here to do is help us all find ways to make sure our outdoor lifestyles have a positive rather than a negative effect on climate change.
Through (if you choose) the medium of a good old…
‘Good old acquaintance be forgot…’
Sorry. Couldn’t resist…
Through the medium of a good old new year’s resolution.
My top four green resolution ideas for outdoor lovers
Stop sniggering, I think you probably know what I mean by ‘outdoor lovers’.
1. Undertake an outdoor gear audit
We all know buying new outdoor gear is almost as good as getting outside and using it (sometimes better if it’s raining), but do we actually know how much kit we already have?
If your drawers are bursting, and things are falling off your hooks, it’s time to do something.
An outdoor gear audit won’t just help you understand what you already have, it will help you see which pieces of kit need repairing (mend them), which you don’t actually wear (take them to the charity shop), and which have lasted a long time (buy from that brand again)
All really useful stuff.
Whilst it won’t (hopefully) take you all year to conduct your outdoor gear audit, if you spend the rest of the year looking after your old gear instead of longing for new gear, you’ll be saving the planet a CO or 2 (see what I did there!)
2. Aim for low packaging expeditions
If that sounds like an excuse to carry a half empty rucksack, it’s not. But expedition food often isn’t the most planet friendly scran you can buy.
It can be very tasty though!
Whether you’re tucking into your Pot Noodle (other bullet-pea-based meals are available) or cooking up a gourmet stir fry from supermarket ingredients, the chances are your food choices will involve more packaging when you’re out camping than they do at home.
But with a little forethought, they don’t have to.
One choice is to buy expedition meals with eco-friendly packaging. For example Firepot have a range that comes in compostable (much better than biodegradable) packaging. They also use locally-sourced food to make their dishes.
But preparing your own expedition food can be very satisfying, often costs less, and is almost certainly more healthy.
Here are a few ideas I’ve been trying this year.
And yes, being on expedition without using supermarkets was sometimes tricky.
- Savoury flapjack – great substitute for sandwiches, even tasty when it has been reduced to crumbs. I adjust this savoury flapjack recipe according to what I have available.
- Homemade noodle bags – fine rice noodles, finely chopped fresh veg, and seasoning, in a reusable bag like these silicon ones from Moonmoon (brilliant). Just add boiling water when you need it.
- Boiled eggs – Okay so that’s not a new idea but by boiling four eggs for breakfast and saving two for lunch, you’ll be saving gas and time. If you’re not fussy, you can used the boiled water to make couscous but I wouldn’t recommend it for tea.
3. Choose brands for their eco-credentials not their popularity
It’s rare now to find an outdoor gear website without a sustainability page but how often do you actually read what they’re saying?
Greenwashing is perhaps less rife in the outdoor sector than it is elsewhere but you do have to be careful. These days a bit of recycled material here and there doesn’t really cut the sustainability mustard.
Here are a few tips on what sustainability features you might like to look out for from your outdoor gear brands.
- Brands that take some interest in what happens to their products after they’ve been sold. For example Alpkit offers a repair and wash service and Patagonia and North Face take responsibility for the whole product lifecycle of their kit by offering end-of-life returns (that’s the jacket’s life, not yours!)
- Certified B Corporations (B Corp). Brands that achieve this designation have to meet high standards of social and environmental performance. The certification process is rigorous and brands have to qualify in a wide range of areas. Examples of B Corp outdoor brands include Patagonia, Alpkit and Finisterre.
- Brands that are clearly making the effort to change in a combination of ways. For example, if they’re upping the amounts of recycled materials they use, at the same time as switching away from forever chemicals, whilst also giving you information on how they look after their (usually overseas) workforce, they’re probably taking sustainability seriously.
4. Try at least one outdoor adventure by public transport.
When I decided to try adventuring by train at the start of 2022, I was worried about missing out on great locations and experiences.
But the opposite has happened.
I’ve discovered that you can get off the train at any station and make your own adventure.
All you need is a map.
And sometimes a tent (if you’re wild camping on Dartmoor by train), and sometimes a bivvy bag (if you fancy a solo beach bivvy by train), and sometimes a hint of bravery (if you’re planning on sleeping in a crypt).
I use the OS Maps app because it gives me access to detailed mapping for the whole of the UK and offers the best information on public rights of way and access land.
As well as important things like Danger Areas and bogs.
My favourite thing about train adventures is that you often end up exploring where other people don’t go.
Which means you can avoid the crowds.
As well as the parking hassles and motorway queues.
An eco-friendly outdoor lifestyle for 2024
So there you have it. My ideas to help you choose an outdoor 2024 that will be as good for the planet as it is for you.
You probably have some better ones.
And I’d love to hear about them. Why not follow me on Instagram (Fi Darby Freelance @fidarby) and let me know what you’re thinking. My ways might not be your ways.
But together we can make a difference.