164: Zero Waste Backpacking

Show Notes: Episode 164

Today on the First 40 Miles,  we’re always up for a challenge—and that challenge was to have a zero waste backpacking trip—no wrappers, no garbage, no junk.  We’ll share what we did and how it worked out.  Then we’ll review an all-natural way to package and protect your food, that uses no plastic, foil or mylar.  And you’ll learn a backpack hack that will turn your used food packaging into tinder.


  • “Zero Waste” Backpacking Trip
  • How we defined Zero Waste: Nothing was going into the landfill when we returned
  • How we did it, what we used, what we ate, how we disposed of trash, where we go what we needed
  • We ate pizza rolls, grapes, jerky, cookies, cheese, trail mix, fresh bread—all wrapped in either the beeswrap or waxed paper
  • No fuel canisters

Top 5 Zero Waste Backpacking Principles


  • Just say no to more junk
  • Learn to say no
  • Buy bulk food and take it with you backpacking


  • Simplify what you have in your backpacking stash at home and what you carry on the trail
  • Reduce the amount of packaging you carry
  • Reduce the amount of new gear you buy
  • Reducing is already a principle of backpacking


  • Think about what ends up getting used and turned into trash while you’re backpacking: fuel canister, toilet paper, container of balm or ointment, bandages, baggies, rubber bands
  • Any way to bring a reuseable version of that?
  • Milk jug wash basin…



  • Catholes, toilet paper

I’m going to add a 6th R to the list of Zero Waste Backpacking Principles: and that is Repair.  We have some gear that needs some repair.  Two sleeping bags, my wool buff has a tiny hole, and I think we have some Frogg Toggs that could use some spot repair with duct tape.

SUMMIT Gear Review™: BeesWrap Reusable Food Wraps


  • Bee’s Wrap is a reusable food wrap made of organic cotton, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin.


  • The warmth from your hands molds the BeesWrap around whatever you’re wrapping


  • Small: 7” x 8”
  • Medium: 10” x 11″
  • Large: 13” x 14”
  • Bread wrap: 17” x 23”
  • Baguette wrap: 14” x 26”
  • Sandwich wrap: 13″ x 13″


  • Lasts about a year
  • Can be cut to fit
  • Wash in cold water, with a little dish soap, hang dry


  • $6-19 depending on size


  • They work!
  • The sandwich wraps are great. They have a little button sewed on them to keep your sandwich or stuff wrapped up.

Backpack Hack of the Week™:  Wax Paper Wraps

If you’re looking for a way to wrap your food and then dispose of the packaging at your campsite, We wrapped some of our food in wax paper, then sealed it with masking tape.  That way, we could throw the waxed paper in the fire, it burned easily, and it made for great tinder.  It worked well for storing jerky, nuts, dried fruit, cookies, pizza rolls and dense bread.  We put everything that we wrapped in waxed paper into a paper sack to protect it.  You could also use a linen sack or one of your stuff sacks.

Trail Wisdom

“Every woodland or forest in addition to yielding lumber, fuel, and posts, should provide those who frequent it with a liberal education about nature. This crop of wisdom never fails but unfortunately it is not always harvested.”

-Aldo Leopold