Many ecologists are calling for a cosy campfire in the garden this winter. A remarkable advice since a campfire is particularly bad for the environment. In order to still be comfortable in the garden, without a wood fire of course, we share our tips to keep it warm and cosy and we found worthy, environmentally friendly alternatives to a campfire.
The figures don't lie: campfires do enormous damage to our planet. An example: you invite a few people over and light a campfire in a garden fire pit for two hours to keep your feet nice and warm. You could just as well have driven your polluting car to Moscow from Brussels (that is almost 2,400 kilometres). Using a fireplace to heat the house or lighting a wood fire outside: it is absolutely not advisable.
Although the sustainable mobility issue receives tons of attention in the media, too little attention is paid to the evil that happens at home: the fireplaces and campfires. The emissions from Belgian and Dutch stoves, open fires and campfires are far greater than the total emissions caused by cars and freight transport. Not to mention the wood production needed to fill all those stoves. Every year, an area the size of eight times Belgium is felled to provide the world with wood, even though it is a sustainable building material. As cosy as it may seem: extinguish the fire and test our tips to keep it warm outside without harming the environment.
Tips for keeping warm without a campfire:
1. Keep moving
If you would like to meet up with friends and family in the open air without getting cold, first make sure that you do not plan to sit still for hours in the cold. Plan a nice walk or bike ride in the neighbourhood and nobody will complain about the cold. If you want to make it an unforgettable bike ride, here is a list of the most beautiful routes in Belgium.
2. Serve something warm
Sitting outside in the cold with a cold drink in your hand: it will make you feel even colder. Therefore, serve your guests something warm, such as soup, chocolate milk, tea, coffee, grog or mulled wine, so that they can hold a warm cup or glass. That will go a long way towards making them feel warm.
3. Put your feet in the air
By putting your feet on icy ground or wet grass for a long time when you are sitting still, your shoe soles will take over and your feet will get cold. So use the logs you would burn to support your guests' feet, or provide a second chair to serve as a footstool. It is also best to avoid crossing your legs when sitting outside as this impedes the blood flow in your legs.
4. Do not wear tight socks or shoes
When it is cold, many people tend to wear several socks on top of each other and squeeze them into their shoes. A bad idea, because it is easier to keep your feet warm when there is room to move in your shoes. By wearing loose socks and roomy shoes, the air inside your shoes is warmed up, creating an insulating layer.
Is there an environmentally friendly campfire?
We understand, of course, that the above tips have their limitations, even when it is freezing. If you really want to light a fire, you can choose to use a fire pot filled with fire gel. This alternative to a wood fire often comes in design form, which makes them look good in your garden or on your terrace. By using fire gel, usually a mixture of alcohol, water and a binding agent, you create a soot-free flame that gives off heat. But beware: put the pot in a safe place, because the gel gets so hot that it can cause serious burns if, for example, it falls over and comes into contact with the skin.