Hiker’s Wisdom: Your Guide to Camp Recycling Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of our blog series on recyclables! Last time we tackled the Plastics # 1, 2, and 3, most of which can be recycled with your curbside recycling bin. Today we will finish out the list of recyclable materials and leave you with the knowledge of a true protector of Mother Earth. Let’s get started!

Recycling Symbols: Plastics LDPE #4
LDPE (also known as Low-density polyurethane) is the plastic used in most shopping center plastic bags, carpet fibers, frozen food containers and other items. Only recently have local trash pickup and recycling centers begun to accept this type of plastic for recycling, so check with your local disposal companies to see if your home is on the list of approved pickup sites. LDPE #4 is considered a safe plastic too, and is often transformed into trash cans, mailboxes and tote bins.

Recycling Symbols: Plastics PP #5
Ketchup bottles, pill containers, ice cube trays and some sport water bottles are all items made from polypropylene, known by the symbol PP #5. With very few exceptions this plastic is considered one of the safe plastics, and can be recycled at your local pickup centers. When recycled, this material is turned into vehicle headlights, brooms and mops, and even electric plastic fan blades.

Recycling Symbols: Plastics PS #6
Most campers will know this plastic very well by it’s layman name: Styrofoam, and this is one of the more toxic plastics currently on the market today. Egg cartons, meat trays, and disposable cups and plates are all made from PS #6, and while non-toxic at room temperature will release dangerous toxic chemicals when heated. Because of the health risks involved, most curbside recycling centers will not accept it, meaning you should either purchase alternatives made with recyclable materials or contact a specialty recycling center for disposal.

Recycling Symbols: Plastics Other
When plastics are essentially a grab-bag of materials, these items are placed and labeled with the “Plastics Other” symbol. These items are made of materials that contain polycarbonate and bisphenol-A, also known as BPA. The toxicity of these materials are now becoming widely known for causing hyperactivity and reproductive issues, and have begun to fade from the consumer marketplace. Bullet-proof vests, iPod cases and sunglasses are all still made with this material however, so be careful when using these items. Recycling them is difficult, but they can be eventually made into plastic lumber and other products requiring inexpensive durability.


Hiker’s Wisdom: Your Guide to Camp Recycling Part 1

Hiker’s Wisdom: Your Guide to Camp Recycling Part 1
As nature-lovers, we all understand the importance of recycling and keeping our earth preserved for future generations, but recycling itself is more complicated than people think.  Not every plastic is created equal, and while some containers and bottles can be recycled and placed back into circulation, still others lack the chemical properties to be fit for use in food and other health-related products.  Therefore to help Mother Earth and of course our fellow campers, we’ve put together a two-part series on learning just what those little recycling symbols and numbers really mean.  Trust us: you will learn something you didn’t know before!

Recycling Symbols: PETE Plastic #1
Arguably the most common type of consumer plastic, plastic symbol “1 PETE” is used to make soda and water bottles in addition to certain types of food packaging.  This plastic is considered to be one of the “safe” plastics in that it is not rated for high toxicity, but due to the type of food and drink stored in the plastic, it is common for bacteria to thrive and grow over time.  Luckily this plastic is capable of being recycled into furniture, tote bags and even fleece jackets, so toss those 1 PETE plastic bottles in the recycling bin!

Recycling Symbols: Plastic HDPE #2
For this type of plastic, HDPE is used primarily in the storing of laundry detergent, milk jugs, shampoo bottles and juice bottles, and is considered non-toxic.  This type of plastic can also be recycled at local recycling centers, usually turned into plastic pens, jacklets, lumber, fencing, and even park benches and picnic tables.  Any items with HDPE # 2 can be recycled locally as well.

Recycling Symbols: Plastic V or PVC #3
Items with the “V or PCV #3” symbol are plastics that contain phthalates and DEHA, elements that have been known to lead to serious health issues in adults, pregnant women and children including carcinogens and developmental problems.  Usually this symbol can be found on PVC piping, clear food wrap and even some detergent bottles, and are not usually accepted at local recycling centers.  Though it can be eventually turned into items such as floor paneling and synthetic decking, check with your local recycling center before tossing it in the bin.
Well that’s it for now, but stay tuned to our next blog post on recycling plastics for the final four plastic symbols and their recycling potential.


Hiker’s Wisdom: Trail Tips for Beginners Part 2

Hello fellow campers and welcome back to another installment of Hiker’s Wisdom!  Last time we focused on what new hikers can do to prepare for the trail by wearing the proper attire and how to pack a first-aid kit for emergencies, but this time we thought we’d zero-in on the best way to select a backpack and the proper communication equipment for hiking.  Gear is important, but so is how you carry it all and having a solid means of communication in an emergency is just good sense.

How to Pack your Back
There are literally hundreds of backpack brands and models available on the market, but choosing the right one tends to come down to three basic elements: size, capacity and load distribution.  Size refers to the actual length of the torso (waist to the top of the shoulders), but NOT to an individual’s height.  It might seem overkill to measure your own torso length ahead of time, but since size directly affects pressure points on your back, your body will thank you after a few hours on the trail.  From a capacity perspective, professional hiking backpacks are measured in liters and should not take into account any compartments that are not capable of being entirely sealed with zippers.  For short day trips or overnights, backpacks of between 30 to 65 liters are acceptable whereas week-long camping trips can be anywhere from 70 to 100 liters.  If you’re not comfortable judging by looks, read the tags; hiking backpack capacities are always listed as one of the first items in backpack identification.  Last but certainly not least, take a look at how easily and convenient it is to load your pack and adjust the weight across your entire body and posture.  Backpacks get their true comfort from distributing the weight of your gear across your hips, minimizing the strain on your shoulders and arms.

Find a Partner in Crime
Preparation and studying can only get you so far, which means the best possible source of information on all things hiking will be a close friend or relative that has seen a few trails.  Knowledge gained in the field supersedes anything learned from books or survival classes, and having a friendly and reliable source nearby not only makes the hike more fun but keeps your encyclopedia on hiking with you at all times.  For extra fun gather a group of between four and seven people, as group hikes allow you to distribute gear more easily amongst many people, have more members to find help in an emergency and (most importantly) make great memories that will last a lifetime.


Hiker’s Wisdom: Trail Tips for Beginners Part 1

No matter what age you are when the majesty of hiking calls your name, everyone begins their career as a backpacker in much the same way: scratching their heads.  What should I bring on the trail?  Do I need a first-aid kit?  Which sleeping bag should I buy?  Often times the sheer amount of unknowns can be enough to scare off novice hikers, but never fear!  We’ve taken the liberty of putting together a nice little backpacking survival guide that identifies myths, provides guidance and offers tricks to make your first hiking experience as amazing as can be!

Dress for Success
There are many little blunders that occur on a person’s first hike, but the most common and easily corrected mistake of them all is choosing the wrong wardrobe for the outdoors.  When choosing a pair of pants, keep to fabrics and clothing that are breathable but also repel moisture.  That means avoiding denim and/or jeans, as these fabrics retain a lot of water and can draw off body heat.  Convertible pants that allow the pant legs to be removed via zipper or Velcro are ideal, but slacks or shorts work just as well.  When it comes to footwear, full to mid-cut boots offer the best protection and traction in the outdoors, but for light to moderate trails many hikers prefer hiking shoes.  Whichever footwear you prefer, do NOT skim on your socks; synthetic knee socks will protect your feet from blisters while offering a barrier against insects like ticks and fleas.  A smart hiker will also bring a hat, cap or bandana for protection against the sun, and a rain jacket or slicker tucked away in your backpack for unexpected squalls is a good idea as well.

Pack for the Trip
All too often new hikers find themselves severely over or underprepared when they arrive on the trail simply because they didn’t do enough research beforehand, and nothing shows a hiker’s skill level more than his or her first-aid kit.  Most novice hikers either forget to bring a first-aid kit on the trail, or else buy the biggest and most expensive medical kit available that takes up nearly all the space in their backpacks.  Unless your hike will last several days away from civilization and you plan to go with a large group, hikers only require the most basic of first-aid supplies: various-sized bandages and Band-Aids, ibuprofen, gauze, Benadryl, antibiotic cream and sanitizing wipes.  If you think your hike will require more medical supplies than that, consider changing your hiking location to something less dangerous!