Low Waste Camping

Hello there! It’s me, Kristan. Writing again and turning to something that makes me feel productive or somehow helping out in the world. This post is titled Low Waste Camping, which, in essence, is true, but I was staying in a bare bones cabin. Is that true? It had a working refrigerator and a heater for nighttime in the high Sawtooth Mountains. I technically did do some camping the night after, with no heater, no electricity, no ice cubes but the ones with which I left the cabin. So I’ll continue on here and talk about my experiences with low waste camping. I have accomplished this same thing again, but with way fewer pictures because constantly taking photographs was taking me away from the scenery I traveled far to appreciate.

This is the cabin I stayed in, it is quite spacious and beautiful. All my belongings are seen on the porch. Basket with food, cooler, water jug, clothing in a suitcase, and some hiking shoes.

The most important aspect of any trip is THE FOOD. Maybe it isn’t to you, but it is to me as I cannot do much of anything if I do not have the fuel to go full force and hike or walk around anywhere without some delicious food. The smattering of food I brought along with me is depicted here, which I am certain you can figure out, I like my sourdough bread, nuts, harissa paste, peanut butter, honey, olive oil decanted into a smaller glass jar, and some veggies. It has been a while since I actually went on this trip, but I am hoping I had at least a few meals planned. Let’s find out!

Any person striving for less waste knows we must take the necessary tools with us. In the above case, I found it necessary to have a couple of tea towels and a washing up cloth (hand crocheted by me for bonus points). In the tiny adorable jar is Sal Suds, which I use to clean everything and gasp! it comes in a plastic container and I DON’T CARE because it is just that amazing and simplifies my life in numerous ways. Oh, and don’t forget a well-loved cast iron skillet that is easy to clean and if you don’t clean it all the way, well that is more flavor in your next meal. Side note: isn’t this stove top killer? Makes me want to cook all day and night.

Ooooh, we must talk about the essentials of hygiene now. I do not go anywhere without nail clippers. This was discussed on a recent trip to Mexico with my BFF and she said she would never think of bringing them, but oh how a hangnail can ruin my day if it cannot be taken care of immediately! I will just list the items you see here to be a bore: tp, sunscreen (made by ALL good if you care), body soap, shampoo bar, shea butter as a moisturizer, facial cleansing oil of some sort most likely jojoba mixed with frankincense, homemade bug spray (I copied the basic ingredients from some commercial company, the NEEM oil should not be left out of the recipe), more sunscreen, homemade deodorant (baking soda + EO lavender + EO clary sage), eyelash curler (for those selfies in the hot springs!), hair brush, David’s toothpaste, toothbrush, DIVA cup, and DIY hand sanitizer.

Some more essential tools: tea (I think it had all been gifted to me), tea strainer, bread knife, regular chopping knife, silverware set, micro planer?? Was that essential? Maybe I was fighting something and needed ginger + lemon hot water which I often make when I’m not feeling so hot.

I got super lucky and had a refrigerator so I bought beer and kept these few items in there. I felt quite like I was glamorous camping.

More food. Half and half is essential to my camping trip apparently. It is an essential when drinking coffee, so here it is. I also brought my homemade ginger beer, some eggs, and who can remember what else? Not me!

Here is a boring photo of none other than ice! But it’s a hot tip to refreeze your ice if you have access to a freezer so it can be reused upon leaving the place with said freezer! Amazing! Very low waste brilliance if you ask me! I will not take credit for this idea; I am certain I stole it from somewhere.

Simple way that I make coffee: a square of muslin atop a handmade ceramic pour over. Boil water and slowly pour over the coffee. Hehe

Oh, my first meal! Looks scrummy (as Mary Berry would say)! I had prepared a few things beforehand and this was one of those meals. Looks like asparagus, chickpeas, parsley, and orzo most likely sprinkled with lemon.

This cup served as my compost until I emptied a mason jar.

My washing up sink in the cabin.

Another meal of cooked lentils, sliced potatoes, fried onions, and eggs. Oh, beer as well.

What a sunny breakfast! Beautiful strawberries from a local grower, boiled eggs topped with harissa on homemade sourdough. Looks like I did use the microplaner to grate ginger and have with hot water and lemon.

These chocolate balls were keeping my spirits alive! I used the Klean Kanteen to keep coffee fresh. At this point in the trip, I was no longer staying at the cabin, and had visited about four natural hot springs. I was extremely relaxed and happy.

I cooked a real meal over a real fire and did it all by myself! The next picture shows how happy and proud I am for being such a firecracker.

I always bring a good book whenever I travel!

I did bring a candle and some matches and a lighter. More potatoes, lentils, onions, bread, and beer. Whooiee!

Purely private soak next to the Sawtooth Mountains nearing dusk. Bathing suits are essential to me, but may not be to you!

Considering I was by myself and didn’t have to worry about irritating anyone else, I stopped along the road numerous times to pick up trash.


Sorted into recyclables and plain trash.

Here are a few 35mm film shots I took of the trip for your viewing pleasure. 🙂


Peace and love,



Steripen for Safe Drinking Water

My best friend and I have an upcoming trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. Last time I was in Mexico, I was informed to not drink the water, and ended up buying bottles of water, or refilling them from larger plastic containers at the homes where I was staying. It was disheartening as an avid pursuer of recycling and as a person who always has a reusable water bottle with me, to discover there weren’t many recycling facilities around the beautiful Yucatán.

To avoid this in the future, I did some research and discovered what many already know about: the Steripen! It is a small pen-like device that will sterilize water in less than two minutes. I decided this was the best option for me, even though there are others out there that filter water at the same time. The water does need to be mostly clear for the Steripen to work, so perhaps it is not the best option for when you are in the backwoods and can only find a water source with much sediment.

The device cost just about $100 USD and was purchased at my local REI. There is a registry for it as well, so when the bulb fizzles out after 8,000 uses, the company will replace it. That’s a great deal for the price. I tested it out to ensure the bulb was working and to practice using it before taking it out in the field. The model I bought is the Steripen Ultra and specifications can be found here.


Here is the entire package outside of the box. The only “trash” would be the twist tie, but I’m going to use that to keep the cord wrapped up tightly. Oops, it looks like the USB cord is not pictured. Sorry! It comes with the package, I promise. The device is not too big and therefore is an easily carried item and also very practical on a variety of trips.

It needs to be charged before use and simply has a USB plug. I used an apple plug-in and my wall instead of a computer. When it was ready, it showed a battery symbol with  full lines. It took maybe 4 hours to fully charge.

You need to remove the blue cover to expose the bulb. There is actually a discrepancy in the directions. On the actual pen you can see that the directions are to push the button once to sterilize 1 liter of water or two times to sterilize one-half of a liter. That is incorrect, it is the opposite. The display screen will show you what you have selected. However, the Steripen is so simple to use as there is only 1 button!

Once the bulb is totally submerged in water, simply press the button once or twice, and the countdown will start. The screen will also remind you to stir the pen around in the container while it is counting down.


When water is sterilized, you will simply see a happy face. You will feel happy to have sterilized, fresh water to drink wherever you are! You will also be happy to know you do not need to purchase any plastic water bottles that will fill our lakes, rivers, and oceans and harm the beautiful planet we all love to explore.

**This was more than 1/2 liter, and I did test it out with 1 liter as well. The pen needs 45 seconds for 1/2 liter, and 90 seconds for 1 liter.

***The first time I tried this, I was using a stainless steel water bottle from Klean Kanteen. The display screen only showed a sad face so I thought to pour it into a glass container. The pen worked in the glass jar shown. When I was at REI, I asked an employee if this worked in metal containers and he said it would. After testing in the glass jar, I poured the water back into my metal water bottle and tested the pen in there, and this time it worked, so it was just a first time use fluke it would seem.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with this purchase because it is:

  • small
  • lightweight
  • simple to use
  • universal charging
  • charge lasts 50 – 100 treatments
  • device works for up to 8,000 treatments
  • will save money in the long run because 8,000 liters of bottled water at $2 each = $16,000. Or 1 gallon of water = $1.29. 1 gallon = 3.78 liters. Each liter costs $0.34. 8,000 × 0.34 = $2,729. Yikes! I was surprised at this calculation, so correct me if I’m wrong, but it does not make financial sense to purchase water. EVER.
  • can be shared by a whole group of people
  • life changing

Peace and love,



Field Trip Lunch: no refrigerator / heat, plant based

We took our Kindergarteners on a field trip to a science discovery museum last week. It was amazing and so much fun for them!

Fortunately for our kids, school provides sack lunches during field trips. Being a vegetarian, I knew I wouldn’t want one and would need to pack my lunch that didn’t need refrigerating, nor would require heating up.

I made egg salad fixings with boiled eggs, homemade mayonnaise, celery, and salt and pepper. On my homemade sourdough sandwich bread, it sat upon a bed of spinach.

Then some cooked lentils were made into a cold salad featuring capers, celery, yogurt, a bit of mayonnaise, cilantro, small sweet peppers, and harissa paste.

I packed some plantain chips purchased in bulk and brought a pear.

Of course I also included a napkin and my travel silverware, as well as my travel coffee mug from Klean Kanteen. This stored nicely in the lunch bag I have from life without plastic, which also insulates due to the wool content.

Plant based, portable, and trash free!

Peace and love,