Zero Waste Campsite

Last year we welcomed our first guests at OEST Farm&Stay. It was great to hear and see that people enjoyed their stay with us. They were enjoying the nature and silence around them, something we enjoy everyday. They went back to basic and were happy with less. Kids were playing with sticks, water and soil and not missing their screens. People asked us if they could help out in the garden and they became inspired to make their own garden more edible as well.


Some people were surprised to find out that there were no normal flush toilets in the forest but compost toilets instead. But most of the time, there was a second surprise when they realised that the compost toilets were actually clean and didn’t stink! Others were absolutely euphoric to see the uritonnoir, in a straw bale! Kids were very happy to bring their food leftovers to our pigs and chicken. Guests liked to make a fire and cook on our rocket stove just using a few dry branches which they found in the forest. And what tastes better then homemade bread and fruits and vegetables directly from the garden.

Cooking on the rocket stove

All examples above helped us to reduce waste, which is great. As we try to live and work according to the permaculture principles, ‘producing no waste‘ (one of the principles) is very important to us! But….. at the end of the day, there was still so much waste in the bins! Luckily people were separating their trash, but still….. And that’s why I’m writing this article, to give and ask for tips that can help to reduce the waste on our natural campsite this coming season.

It would be great if we can become a ‘zero waste campsite‘!

Waste contributes to the pollution of our oceans and lakes, it increases the greenhouse gas effect that causes global warming, and it pollutes the soil and water under and near the landfills. So let’s take a few steps to reduce it!

5 terms to keep in mind when you want to reduce your waste are: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (and only in that order)

Refuse: it’s simply saying ‘no’ and looking into reusable alternatives. Refuse single use plastics, like disposable coffee cups, plastic water bottles, utensils and straws. Instead take a reusable coffee cups, water bottle, and a bamboo utensil set with you when you go out. When you go shopping, bring your own empty food containers and some cotton bags to prevent single use packaging. Also refuse plastic (tooth)brushes and cotton buds made with plastic.

Reduce: simply reduce what you are purchasing by being mindful about what you need and want.

Reuse: Reusing and repairing go hand in hand. When you’re deciding whether to toss something and buy a new one, ask yourself if you can find a way to reuse or repair it. This applies to clothing, furniture and technology for example. But also think about reusing empty glass jars to store your food leftovers, use newspaper of magazine pages to wrap presents, use old t-shirt as a cleaning cloth, and buy or sell second hand.

Recycle: If you really can’t use the product anymore, ensure you sort and recycle it properly. Recycling is one way to reduce landfill contributions.

Rot: because you refuse and reuse, most of your waste is now organic and compostable. If your local government doesn’t collect organic waste, start composting yourself!

My tips for reducing your waste:

Real, unpacked food

Our input to help our guests to reduce their waste:

  • the water from the taps is drinking water
  • herbs to flavour your water or food can be picked around your tent
  • we sell fruits, vegetables, nuts and eggs directly from our garden
  • we sell homemade breads and cakes
  • we sell grains, flour, pasta, rice, seeds, lentils and beans by the weight in re-usable glass jars
  • guests can use our kitchen area with stoves and pizza oven to prepare their own food
  • we made a list of local shops that sell real food and where you can bring your own container to store your food
  • food leftovers can go to our pigs, chicken, and/or worm bins
  • we take care our guests’ shit by composting it 🙂

Please let me know if you have any other ideas or tips on making our campsite zero waste!

You might think ‘why?’! ‘Camping is holiday, holiday is taking it easy and making it myself comfortable’. But try to look at ‘taking it easy’ from a different perspective. You are on holiday, so you have all the time to take it easy. No phones or computers that ask for your time, but you have all the time to yourself ( and family). Time, to pick your own vegetables, to prepare them with care, to enjoy them. Be thankful that you can eat something that nourishes you, and that you actually have some dishes to wash. Wash them with care, to safe water and soap. Now don’t put your head in the sand. Your waste isn’t gone when you throw it in a bin!

I want to finish with a great quote of Paul Kingsnorth (in VPRO Tegenlicht; de aarde draait door); ‘the flush toilet is a good metaphor for the civilisation we’re living in. You crap into a pipe, you flush it away and you never see it. You never have to deal with your own shit. And then you end up deep in it. But I just think, it’s the notion that you just press a button, and all of your waste disappears and somebody else deals with it somewhere and it’s gonna be okay, is exactly how we grow up, we live our lives like that. ‘

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