Packing Lean and Leaving Clean Overnight

The payoff of an overnight camping trip is sleeping under the stars here in beautiful BC. How you prepare for your night out in nature is where you can really shine. An overnight camping trip requires smart planning–including how you will dispose of your recyclables and waste. Learn how to pack lean and leave clean for your next sleepover with Mother Nature.

people sitting around campfire at night


Pack Lean! Reduce packaging so you have less to bring home

For an overnight or multi-day camping trip, from coffee to dinner, you’ll need to plan your meals in advance. This can reduce the amount of packaging you’ll bring with you and also put you in the mindset of consolidating your supplies for easier travelling. Reusable containers will likely be your go-to for food storage but there may be some hidden gems in your blue box at home. Hard plastic containers can be emptied and rinsed to store snacks like mixed nuts, candy, etc. Other items you can reuse before recycling at home or the depot include:

  • Glass bottles and jars for drinking water or juice
  • Resealable or zipper lock plastic pouches for snacks, cooking seasoning, etc.
  • Cardboard boxes to neatly pack your supplies in a vehicle
  • Plastic bags to collect material that can be returned to a depot

Reusable plates and cutlery are light, easy-to-clean and a good investment for future camping trips if you enjoy the outdoors, not to mention it reduces the amount of plastic and paper to recycle at the end of your camping trip. If you’re camping as a group, offer to bring extras for less experienced campers who may not have invested in these items yet. 

Psst–don’t forget the dog! Pet food packaging can be managed with the same attention as your own meals.


Plan how to store and recycle packaging during your trip

Knowing whether an item is being dropped at a recycling depot or going into your home recycling makes collecting and storing your recyclables easier. For example, packing smaller flexible plastics, like instant noodle wrappers and chip bags, into a larger plastic bag for easy drop-off at the depot. 

Visit our What Can I Recycle page for the complete guide on accepted materials and how to sort.. 


Rinse your recyclables before storing them 

Bear with us–rinsing out your recyclables could save you an unwanted encounter with wildlife! At home, emptying and rinsing containers reduces risk of recycling contamination. On the road when you’re camping, it can keep your campsite tidy, save you time when you’re packing up to Leave Clean, and is also good safety practice to not attract local wildlife visitors to your campsite. Food waste includes beverages as well, you’ll want to rinse beverage cans and any reusable cups you have as well.


Plan a Recycle BC depot stop for the trip home

There are over 200 depot locations around BC where you can drop off accepted material for recycling. Plan a stop at your local Recycle BC depot, or London Drugs store. You can find a depot here.


Drop off your flexible plastics together–no sorting necessary 

Guess what? No more sorting plastics. You can now bring your flexible plastics to the depot and drop them off together.

Flexible plastics that are accepted include: 

  • Plastic bags for bread and groceries
  • Plastic outer-bags and overwrap 
  • Crinkle wrappers and bags, like granola bars and chips
  • Zipper-lock and stand-up pouches used for snacks and freeze-dried meals
  • Flexible packaging with a plastic seal for pre-packaged deli snacks or stuffed pasta
  • Woven plastic bags for fruits and vegetables 
  • Protective packaging from items like crackers and seaweed snacks

To see the full list of accepted flexible plastics, visit

Enjoy your stay in nature and remember to Pack Lean, Leave Clean!