While having a limited waste menu does require more planning, the benefits are absolutely worth it.
First, get yourself re-usable utensils. None of this single use plastic cutlery and plates nonsense. Most adventure stores have lightweight reusable sets and environmentally friendly washing liquid. Steel or bamboo sets will get you extra points, but since you’ll be using these utensils forever, plastic is acceptable.
Reusable bottles are a must! Bladders compress as you drink from them taking up no unnecessary space when empty, and there are plenty of hard wearing sports bottles out there to keep you hydrated as well. There’s no need to purchase bottled water if you’re going away for the weekend, and there’s simply no excuse for leaving it out there either.
Alcohol can be a tricky one if you’re so inclined, but a flask of Port saves you from carrying empty bottles out, and the weight of glass. Canned beverages can also be squashed down when empty, and are light to carry to then be recycled afterwards.
My biggest challenge has been finding a replacement for the ever-useful zip lock bag. A single use plastic pouch that’s watertight, small and perfect to hold nick-nacks, food, rubbish etc. But the solution is here – silicone pouches! These beauties are more durable and designed to be used time and time again. They are watertight and can be both frozen AND microwaved, so perfect for all uses at home and the outdoors. Plastic food containers have also been an option but I personally find them too bulky and not watertight.
The best thing you can do is to reduce the amount of rubbish you create to then hike out. Below is my standard weekend hike menu, highlighting where I reduce my litter and how I carry it out. My meals are usually quite repetitive, but it usually works out the most economical. When you’re hiking, repetition is still delicious; if I’m away for more than 3 nights then there’s more variety.
Premixed oats with dried blueberries, cinnamon, powdered milk [Bulk premix stored in silicone pouch]
Pre-made salami, cheese, lettuce, mayo roll [in a silicone pouch]
Repackaged couscous in silicon pouches [which once empty turns into the rubbish pouch], tuna in foil pouches [not tins]
Note: Dehydrated meals are also popular, with only a single pouch as rubbish per meal. This adds up if you’re away for a long period, and catering to multiple people. In my experience, there’s less rubbish when catering in bulk for multiple people or yourself over multiple nights. There are loads of recipes out there for DIY dehydrated meals too, it’s fun getting creative.
Premixed oats with dried blueberries, cinnamon, powdered milk [Same bulk premix stored in silicone pouch from day prior]
Vita-Weat biscuits with block cheese [repackaged into silicone pouches]
– Pre-made trail mix in silicon pouch
– Muesli bars, extra points if you make your own; if not, just remember to not let wrappers fly away – including the little corner piece!
– Orange and apple [peel & core is carried out, this still takes up to 6months to completely break down]