Most of us are familiar with and follow the principles of the Leave No Trace program while camping. Low impact Scouting has the potential for reducing our actual environmental impact but educating our Scouts on wise practices.
Active Troops will spend 20-30 days and nights camping annually- for a Troop of 25 that’s the energy and trash for 2 to 3 thousand meals. If one disposable propane cannister cooks 20 meals the Troop will dispose of 100-150 each year. If each Scout and Leader produces only 8 ounces of trash it amounts to 200 to 375 pounds of garbage. If each uses 2 disposable AA batteries every other weekend outing it amounts to 500-750 a year – a significant opportunity to make a difference.
Reuse and Recycle
- Minimize disposables- Pare down the use of plastic ware, paper plates and cups and paper towels. Purchase recycled disposables and separate used items for recycling. Scouts should learn to routinely use and clean their own eating utensils using biodegradable soap and proper water disposal methods.
- Dish cloths replace disposable paper towels – they will require washing after every outing but will save hundreds of paper towels over their lifetime.
- Separate and compost food scraps – if no one involved with the troop has a compost pile garden clubs can point you to someone who does. Usually food scraps have to be free of meat products but some composters will accept them.
- Separate recyclables from non recyclable trash created during outings and meetings.
Minimize Fossil Fuel Use
- Plan trips so that transportation is maximized – no empty seats in cars. Chartering a bus for long distance trips is often cheaper and easier than driving several cars.
- Minimize the use of propane. The efficient use of wood fuel is much more eco-friendly
than fuels like LPG (liquid propane gas). LPG emits 15 times more carbon dioxide per kilogram than wood. Carbon dioxide (CO2)is the main source of global
warming. And as long as wood burning is sustainable and doesn’t cause
deforestation, its CO2 emissions are neutral — the CO2 released in the
fire simply gets recycled back into more trees.
- Disposable propane bottles have created more CO2 during their manufacture and delivery. They cannot be recycled safely and must be disposed of in a landfill.
Battery Use and Disposal
- Battery powered LED lanterns are a viable alternative to propane or gas lanterns. LED flashlights are several times more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.
- Better yet hand cranked LED flashlights do not require any batteries
- Encourage the use of rechargeable batteries. A rechargeable AA battery costs about $2.50, a disposable AA costs about $.60 each. You begin saving money if the rechargeable battery was only recharged five times (the average life is hundreds of times).
- Extend the life of batteries by removing them from appliances if they are not going to be used for a long time.
prevent a potential safety hazard, do not mix old batteries with new
ones. When old and new batteries are mixed, leaking or rupturing could
- Standard household batteries—the AA’s, AAA’s, C’s, D’s, and
9-volts made after 1997 are of low toxicity and safe to dispose of in landfills. Older batteries need to be sent to special toxic waste landfills.