Catherine Norby posses with her favorite sustainable brands: Patagonia, United by Blue and Diva Cup. Chris Norby/Courtesy
Sustainable shopping for the outdoors can be difficult, especially when it comes to steep prices and sorting through hundreds of websites. What works best for each outdoor enthusiast varies from person to person.
Nomads who live part-time on the road have great advice. Since their homes are so small and completely mobile, they have to get crafty with their products. Sustainability is absolutely key.
Britany Freeman lives on the road part-time. When she’s in her van, she has a list of four sustainable products in particular that make living sustainably easier. The first is Kula Cloth, made specifically for those who have to squat when they pee.
“Kula cloth is a reusable pee cloth for outdoor adventures,” Freeman said. “It’s antimicrobial and silver-infused and super absorbent. A waterproof side so no pee on your hands.”
According to Freeman, these can be used for two to three days before they need to be washed, making them ideal for backpacking.
“It’s honestly my fave piece of gear and comes in all sorts of awesome designs so that’s a big bonus,” Freeman said.
She also loves reusable silicone bags for holding dehydrated meals while doubling them as a waterproof bag to hold anything you need on the road.
Finally, Freeman lists Rebud suds four-in-one shower bars as another favorite. They are “sustainably made with all natural ingredients,” according to Freeman. These are especially key for camping and backpacking as using regular shampoo and soap can actually cause environmental damage.
Karissa Hosek also lives part-time on the road when she is not working in the photography business. She lists three favored sustainable products for when she is living out of her van. The first are reusable mesh produce bags.
“These are so great to have whether you live at home or on the road,” Hosek said. “We prefer to keep our plastic use to a minimum. Having these along with our reusable shopping bags really helps keep single use trash out of our landfills.”
Mrs. Meyers biodegradable dish soap is another favorite.
“Washing our dishes at camp gives us more peace of mind knowing it’s biodegradable and not harming the environment,” Hosek said. “Mrs. Meyers has been our favorite and it doesn’t leave a filmy residue on our dishes.”
Hosek finally lists a period cup. Her preferred brand is Intimina Lily Cup. Diva Cup is another good one.
Both products help prevent excessive waste from single-use tampons and pads, which is especially important when in the outdoors. However, if tampons typically cause discomfort for those who have a uterus, there are also brands such as Rael that make reusable pads that can be washed after using.
Finally, though on the pricier side, there are two companies dedicated to sustainability that produce products that are made so well they can last years.
Patagonia has created a business model of high-end outdoor gear with the promise of amazing quality. With everything sustainably sourced and an ironclad guarantee, all products are created under fair-trade and when they get old or the owner outgrows them, products can be sent to Patagonia Worn Wear.
At Worn Wear, products will either be patched up and returned to the owner or resold at a reduced price. Due to the high-quality of their products, this works quite well and is an amazing way to give back.
Another company working hard to be sustainable is United by Blue. For every product purchased, United by Blue removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways. According to their website, they have removed 3,429,206 pounds so far in addition to the various clean-ups they host throughout the year.
Similar to Patagonia, their products are also made from sustainable materials such as hemp, organic cotton, recycled polyester, corozo, micro modal, wool and tencel.
Whenever possible, choosing sustainability is a good habit to both teach and form. Using sustainable products, especially in the outdoors, helps to ensure future generations will be able to enjoy these beautiful places.