Going Green While Saving Green

Would you like to make your camp more environmentally friendly, but the budget is too tight right now? Let’s face it–while it would be great to run on solar power, it’s just not practical or reasonable to make lavish “green” upgrades in today’s economy. In fact, by using the facilities you have in a new, innovative way, you can go green while still having a little green to spare!

1. Make Any Toilet Low-Flow–Do you ever wish you could replace old water-wasting toilets with a new low-flow model, but you know that the camp can’t possibly afford that kind of investment? You can still keep the current toilets, but try this simple trick to save hundreds of gallons of water every year. Take some empty soda or water bottles (the larger, the better), fill them with rocks and set them inside the toilet tanks. With each flush, you’ll be saving both water and money!

2. Throw In The Towels–Exchange the clothes dryer for the best source of heat–the sun! With acres of camp ground, you can take advantage of the greenest source of energy available. Do you have loads of laundry from bed linens or dish towels? Instead of using a dryer year-round, hang a few clotheslines across a sunny field. It does take a few days for laundry to sun-dry completely, so it’s best to hang it up at the end of a retreat or session. That way, you can take the linens down, and put them to use again just in time for the next campers!

3. Host “Green” Activities–A great game for kids’ camps is building solar ovens. Provide materials such as black garbage bags, plastic wrap, aluminum foil and cardboard boxes. Hold a challenge to see which teams can create solar ovens that are able to cook s’mores. This will teach kids how to conserve at a young age, plus they’ll be able to enjoy the greenest way to make the treats! For a girls’ camp or women’s retreat, teach campers how to make natural beauty products. There are many beauty-product recipes on the Internet and in books that use all-natural, typical household ingredients. These activities are two-fold: the camp helps save the environment, and campers are encouraged to continue doing “green” activities when they return home!

4. Lower The Mosquito Population Without Bug Zappers Or Pesticides–Bug sprays and pesticides pollute the air and foliage, and bug zappers can suck up a large amount of energy. Bats will happily eat the unwanted mosquitoes, but they need a place to sleep during the day. You and your staff can quickly and easily build some bat houses from spare wood. If there’s a lake or pond at the camp, consider buying mosquito fish or guppies. Also, since mosquitoes are attracted to stagnant water, try to fill any potholes in the parking lot and trails so they don’t turn into puddles when it rains.

5. Don’t Let Table Scraps Go To The Dump–Create a compost pile; it makes great soil for camp flower beds, and you’ll fill fewer garbage cans! Set up a large bucket next to the garbage can in the dining hall. During the first meal of each retreat, announce to the campers that the bucket is for compost, and explain what can and cannot go into the compost bucket. (Most food scraps can go into compost, as well as paper napkins, but bones and Styrofoam cannot decompose well, so throw those things away.) Don’t forget to add grass clippings from the lawn mower!

6. Switch Light Bulbs–True, this exchange does take an investment, but switching from incandescent bulbs to energy-saving fluorescent bulbs will save the camp money. Not only do fluorescent light bulbs use less electricity and give off more light, but they don’t need to be replaced nearly as often as their incandescent counterparts. Even if you cannot afford to switch all of the light fixtures at the time, exchanging what you can will still save money and the environment.

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