smart living

Slow Living In The Great Outdoors
Nine “Eco-Campy” Ideas
By Lisa Borden

o you dream about sleeping under the stars and taking deep breaths of fresh air? Spending a night outdoors shouldn’t be a lofty goal, but a priority. No phones, no blackberry, no facebook or twitter, no light pollution and less air pollution. We’ve all heard of Slow Food, but we should also start embracing a more ‘slow living.’ (NB: I’m convincing myself as I write this.) The privilege of sleeping outdoors, whether in the wilderness, a campground, in your own backyard or napping on the edge of a dock, carries responsibility. The fact that the earth is fighting for its life due to our unconscious activities should make us aware that we need to tread lightly, so generations to come won’t despise us. Disconnecting from your city routine and enjoying what’s actually in front of you over what’s virtually in front of you is wonderful. The ‘ecofication’ of your outdoor vacation is not complicated. It’s not even more expensive. It is just a shift in thinking from ‘anything goes’ to ‘my actions impact everything.’ Here are some firestarters to ensure you’ll be a happy camper:


1. Blow up and slow down - Since

there’s a good chance that you’ll be using a car to get out of the city, make sure your tires are inflated, slow down and take the country roads if you need to avoid heavy traffic (or want to enjoy a more scenic route) - you’ll get better mileage overall, cut down on emissions and even save some money. If you are renting a car, avoid falling for that “free” upgrade; a bigger car will cost more in gas, and take a toll on our air too.

Although the little buzzers are labeled as dangerous by many, insect repellants are sadly not given the same courtesy. There are many natural, DEET and chemical-insecticide-free solutions. (My kids use Outdoor Joose by All Things Jill, a Canadian company.) hat, and when wearing sunscreen, say no-no to all things nano. It’s tragic for us as consumers, that nothing stops companies from manufacturing and selling dangerous personal care products. Educate yourself on nano-materials, sunscreen safety and soaps and shampoos so that you can avoid toxic stuff being rubbed into your skin and going into our water. If it’s on you, it’s IN you, and then in all of us. The Environmental Working Group runs - a great place to start.

3. Cover up and clean up - Wear a

2. Be a turn-off (to mosquitoes) Mosquitoes are (unfortunately for us) well-equipped to track you down. Don’t help them out more by wearing anything with synthetic “fragrance” (read: toxic) – that includes ALL personal care items. They are drawn to contrast, so avoid dark clothing as best you can. Eat lots of garlic too – it really does help!

tonic | Summer 2010 | 43

4. Get off the bottle - Buying vitamins

is expensive, so go as natural as you can… soaking up the sun in moderation helps your body manufacture vitamin D, which we know is essential to our wellbeing. Tanning (not burning) is a healthy response, and some studies show that those who expose themselves to the sun in moderation, actually lower their skin cancer risk.

market with great force. Choose LED flashlight/lanterns, as they are a much more energy-efficient alternative.

want to inhale burning plastic, metal or wood (many of which are treated with chemicals), do you? cycle at home, so, you should continue that eco-conscious practice when away, regardless of whether or not there are recycling bins on your site. And, be sure to use polyethylene-free compostable and biodegradable garbage bags. Leave with everything you came with to ensure all is clean and ready for the next lucky city escapees. Spending time outdoors provides health benefits for the body and the mind: fresher air, unplugged time with those you adore, inspiring vistas and calm quietude. Enjoy every moment, bring home lots of memories and do your best to make sure the only marks you leave behind are your (light) footprints.
Lisa Borden

7. Get lots of ‘free’ gear – PVC-free,

5. Re-fuse and re-use - Foam plates and cups, paper towel and napkins, plastic cutlery and straws are single-use earth-wreckers. Refuse all and invest in safe reusables – they will reduce the trash you produce and save you lots of money over time. And, always be sure to have your reusable water bottle with you. Fill. Drink. Repeat often. 6. Feel the power - Powering up all
those gadgets with conventional batteries then dumping them in landfills creates a toxic mess. Instead, try rechargeables, or better yet, take a look at wind powered, solar powered or hand crank eco-gadgets coming on the

phthalate-free, BPA-free and lead-free are just a few of the FREE things to look for when shopping for goods like tents, sleeping bags, water bottles and clothing. Remember to ask salespeople for ‘responsible’ items at the store - you may get a confused look in return, but where there is demand, there will be supply. Mountain Equipment Co-op is one of the better bets in Toronto, from informed staff to a wider selection of safer products.

9. Come with it, leave with it - You re-

8. All fired up - Build your campfire to

the size you need, as unnecessarily big, roaring fires burn more resources (and increase hazards). Use only fallen twigs and branches for firewood - the live trees are working hard for us, please don’t disrupt them. Your fire also offers a more eco-friendly cooking option than a gas or coal grill. And please, never burn your trash - you certainly don’t

~ is an eco-advocate, whose marketing business, Borden Communications + Design is a direct reflection of her commitment to better, more responsible living.

44 | Summer 2010 | tonic

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