How to reduce the carbon footprint of your campsite

We run through some simple actions to reduce your campsite’s carbon footprint.

"We want The Secret Campsite to be the UK's first Net Zero holiday destination. We're on track to achieve this thanks to the help of Small99 and Clean Growth, who have shown us how to measure our current carbon position and make the necessary changes to get us to Net Zero. It's been a straightforward and very rewarding process, and we're excited to see how this benefits the wildlife that shares the campsite with us."

As the impacts of global warming and climate change become increasingly evident, it is more important than ever to take action now to reduce our carbon footprints. Sustainability is also the ability of your business to sustain itself. Net Zero solutions reduce energy costs, and fuel costs, and build diverse supply chains Reducing emissions is about future-proofing businesses in a rapidly changing world. Campsite owners, in particular, have a unique opportunity to not only provide a wonderful outdoor experience for their guests but also to promote sustainability and protect the natural environment.

Below we’ve provided some ideas to get you started, but if you’re after more, start by getting your Net Zero score.

What is a carbon footprint?

The volume of greenhouse gases, in particular carbon dioxide, that a person, business, or event emits is measured as its “carbon footprint.” These gases increase global warming by trapping heat. All businesses must reduce their environmental impact and carbon footprint in order to achieve the Net Zero goal. Certain accreditations, loans and even customer demand are starting to require Net Zero targets and plans. 

Why reduce the carbon footprint of my campsite?

As small business owners, it is important that we start thinking about reducing our carbon footprint in order to contribute to the UK’s emissions reduction targets. In 2019, the UK parliament passed a law to reduce the country’s emissions to zero by 2050, based on 1990 levels.

It is likely that further regulations will be put in place to require businesses of all sectors and scales to contribute to these targets. Besides reducing our collective impact on the planet, this also prepares us for future regulations.

What emissions does my campsite produce?

Campsites can contribute to carbon emissions in a number of ways, including through energy use, transportation, and waste generation.

Energy use is a major contributor to carbon emissions, and campsites are no exception. Heating and cooling systems, appliances, and lighting can all use a lot of energy, especially if your site is large or has a lot of visitors.

Transportation is also a large source of emissions, and it’s important to consider both the emissions from the vehicles themselves and the emissions from the fuel that they use. Campsites that are located in remote areas may have to rely on transportation to get visitors and supplies to and from the site, resulting in high emissions. Customer emissions from transport can be a larger part of your carbon footprint than your own company miles.

Waste generation is another major source of emissions, and it’s important to consider both the emissions from the waste itself and the emissions from the process of waste management. Campsites can generate a lot of waste, especially if you serve food or provide accommodations.

1. Reduce vehicle emissions

On average , petrol-powered cars emit 307g CO2e or more per mile. While it is not always possible to completely eliminate vehicle emissions, there are steps that campsite owners can take to significantly reduce their carbon footprint from transportation.

Switch to electric/hybrid vehicles

EVs produce zero emissions from the tailpipe, meaning they produce no pollution while being driven. In addition, EVs are often more energy-efficient than gas-powered vehicles, meaning they can go further on a single charge. By switching to an EV, a campsite owner can not only reduce their own emissions but also set a good example for their guests and encourage the use of eco-friendly transportation options. Additionally, government incentives and rebates exist for businesses that switch to EVs.

Car club schemes

Implementing a car club scheme for your employees is a simple and effective way to decrease emissions at your campsite. A car club allows employees to share vehicles, rather than each having their own car. This reduces the number of cars on the road and lowers the overall carbon emissions of your business. Car club schemes can be especially beneficial for campsites located in rural areas, where public transportation may not be readily available. By offering this option to your employees, you can not only help the environment but also save money on fuel costs and reduce the need for employee parking spaces.

Use this commuting calculator to work out your carbon footprint. 

Provide transport for guests

One way to reduce your carbon footprint is by offering shuttle buses for guests who arrive by public transportation. This helps to decrease emissions by reducing the number of individual cars on the road, whilst also providing a convenient and eco-friendly transportation option for your guests. Shuttle buses can be used to transport guests from nearby train or bus stations to your campsite, or to take them on excursions during their stay. By offering this service, you can demonstrate your commitment to sustainability and make it easier for your guests to travel in an environmentally-friendly way.


Offsetting involves balancing out the emissions produced by your vehicles with equivalent emissions reductions from other sources, like renewable energy projects or reforestation initiatives. This can be done through the purchase of carbon offsets, which are credits that represent a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Offsetting isn’t just simple and inexpensive, but it can also help your company save money on carbon-related taxes and regulations. Plus, offsetting your vehicle emissions can show your customers that you’re committed to sustainability, and can help attract environmentally-conscious customers.

2. Produce Clean Energy

Use technologies that harness the power of the sun, wind, or geothermal energy to produce clean, renewable energy to power your campsite. Not only do these reduce the campsite’s reliance on fossil fuels and hence carbon emissions, but they can also save money on energy costs in the long run. Here are a few options:

Installing wind turbines

Wind turbines harness wind energy using blades installed on a tower, which is then converted into electricity by a generator. Wind energy is abundant, renewable and can be used in many different places. Even though purchasing a wind turbine for your campsite may be expensive initially, in the long run, it will save you money on energy and minimise your carbon footprint.

Solar panels

Solar panels are easy to install and maintain, and solar energy is widely available. Photovoltaic cells are used to convert sunlight into electricity and can be mounted on a building or separate structure. Factors to consider when using solar panels at a campsite include the amount of sunlight available, the size and layout of the site, and the energy needs of the site.

Air or ground source heat pumps

Air-source and ground-source heat pumps are types of systems that can be used to provide heating and cooling. They work by transferring heat from the air or ground to the inside of a building. When it comes to heating and cooling a campsite, both air-source and ground-source heat pumps can be cost-effective and energy-efficient, especially if the site has high energy demands or is in an area with extreme temperatures.

3. Manage your waste

By implementing simple strategies such as segregating recycling waste, composting organic material and recycling old camping gear –  campsite owners can significantly reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfills and incinerators. As well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste disposal, this also conserves resources and reduces environmental impact.

Additionally, you can encourage your guests to reduce waste by providing reusable water bottles, containers, and other items, as well as by providing information about waste reduction and recycling at the campsite.

4. Rainwater harvesting systems

Rainwater harvesting is a proven strategy for reducing a business’s environmental impact and saving resources. By collecting and storing rainwater for reuse, businesses can significantly reduce their demand for treated water and prevent excess water from entering waterways and causing flooding and soil erosion. In addition, using harvested rainwater for irrigation can support the growth of vegetation, which helps absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

This can positively impact the environment and your business’s bottom line. Implementing rainwater harvesting does require some initial investment and effort, but the long-term benefits make it a strategy worth considering for any business looking to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainability.

5. Promote environmental awareness

Creating a sensory trail is a great way to enhance the visitor experience at your campsite and provide an opportunity for people to engage with the natural surroundings in a unique and meaningful way.

A sensory trail can include elements such as interpretive signs, art installations, and interactive stations that encourage visitors to use their senses to explore and learn about the environment. By incorporating a sensory trail into your campsite, you can provide a fun and educational activity for guests, while also promoting environmental awareness and stewardship. Plus, it is a way to differentiate your campsite from others and offer a unique and memorable experience for visitors.

Ready for more?

You should now have a good idea of where to begin your journey to increased sustainability. Or perhaps you’ve already started and are about to take the next steps?

Small99 Hero is designed to help you whatever stage you’re at. With personalised actions based on your business, you’ll always know what to do next. And our progress tracker lets you check how far you’ve come, as well as share your achievements so everyone can see where you are on the path to Net Zero.

Start using Small99 Hero for free today and keep your business on course for complete sustainability.

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