8 Things I’m Excited to Do to Attempt a More Sustainable Thru-Hike

#1 Use less plastic.

Ugh. It seems like it’s even harder to avoid plastic packaging while on trail than it is in everyday life. I do have a few ideas that should at least help with this. By preparing resupply boxes, I’ll be able to buy dehydrated food in bulk, reapportion the food into quantities of my choosing and avoid using as many single-serve products and individual food wrappers. Trust me, I’m definitely going to miss the tastiness and convenience of things like Justin’s packets, but I’ll get over it.

My recycling program at White Lake State Park back in my SCA NH AmeriCorps days.

#2 Number Two

See what I did there? Between using my portable bidet and antimicrobial pee cloth, I won’t have to use as much toilet paper or wipes on my hike. This translates to saved money, less weight (ultralight, baby), less gross TP I’ll have to pack out, and very importantly, the assurance of a sparkling clean derrière.

Fun fact: I’ve never used a bidet before (in civilization or in the woods), so this should be fun.

#3 Eat less meat.

I didn’t say no meat, but I certainly feel inspired by several of my vegan and veggie friends to eat less of it. The dehydrated meals I’m preparing for my boxes will contain plentiful veggies and will be so much more nutritious than my dinners used to be! Maybe some veggies will even find their way into an occasional “ramen bomb”…

#4 Buy/trade-in used gear.

I’ve already purchased most of the gear I’ll be using, but there are definitely still some things I need that I look forward to buying secondhand. I’m super excited to check out online options like REI Used Gear (among many notable others) and local consignment gear stores in my community. I’m also going to go through my old gear and sell/trade/donate much of it. Why have all that stuff lying around if I’m not using it anyway?

My trusty Big Agnes Fly Creek and new Zpacks Duplex on a shakedown hike with my dad.

#5 Replace single-use toiletries.

Goodbye, toothpaste tubes and plastic toothbrushes. I’m currently researching other toiletry items to replace, and I anticipate that there are many changes I can make in this department! To the people out there who menstruate, I can attest to menstrual cups – they’re legit.

#6 Get educated.

I may have been known to read a book or two… I’ve been reading some seriously awesome books as of late on climate change and consumption and whatnot. There are some fantastic documentaries out there on these subjects as well! I have to say – knowledge really is power, y’all. Reach out if you’d like any suggestions or if you have any to share with me!

#7 Support sustainable companies.

I’d like to give a huge shout-out to the handful of companies out there that have switched to using omnidegradable and compostable packaging for their dehydrated meals! Too cool. Other companies are using TerraCycle to encourage recycling of their meal pouches and that’s a step in the right direction, too. You bet I’m going to include a number of meals from these companies in my resupply boxes.

Enjoying a Mountain House meal – they’re one company that utilizes TerraCycle.

#8 Embrace community.

I might not be writing any of this if not for other inspirational individuals in the outdoor community. I have some serious respect for people like Trek Ambassador Ana Lucía aka “Eco” aka “wastefreepct” who make things like sustainability in the outdoors both cool and very achievable. (If you haven’t checked out her journey, you should go do that now). Let’s continue to support each other in our endeavors and love for the outdoors! Y’all rock.

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Comments 1

  • Jasper : Jan 12th

    Thanks for sharing this, Rachel! While it’s not a primary focus for me in preparing for my upcoming (AT) thru-hike attempt, I’ve certainly found myself trying to be as sustainable as I comfortably can when figuring out my kit. It’s fun seeing what you’re planning, and makes me feel as though I’m on the right track.

    (TMI warning for the more sensitive, I guess— But for those (like myself) who may have found menstrual cups difficult, there are also reusable menstrual *discs* on the market. It’s a very slight difference, but one I found immeasurably helpful.)


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