As outdoor enthusiasts, we all know the importance of preserving the natural beauty of our wilderness areas. One key aspect of responsible hiking and camping is proper waste disposal, including human waste. While it may not be the most glamorous topic, packing out your poo is a crucial practice for minimising human impact on the environment and protecting our beloved trails and backcountry areas. In this blog post, we will delve into the nitty-gritty of packing out your poo on a hike and why it matters.
Why pack out your poo?
When it comes to outdoor ethics, “leave no trace” is a golden rule. This means that anything you bring into the wilderness, including your waste, should be taken out with you.
When you’re in the great outdoors, it’s important to minimise your impact on the environment. This means not leaving any trace of your visit behind. While it may be tempting to just bury your waste, this can actually cause more harm than good. When buried improperly, feces can contaminate groundwater and spread disease. Additionally, animals may dig up buried waste and spread it around, causing even more contamination.
Packing out your poo is a more responsible solution. By packing out your waste, you’re ensuring that it won’t harm the environment or wildlife. Plus, it’s a great way to show respect for the natural world around you.
Human waste left behind can cause several environmental and health risks, such as:
- Water contamination: Human feces can contain harmful bacteria and pathogens that can contaminate water sources, posing a risk to wildlife and other hikers who rely on those water sources for drinking or recreation. This can lead to the spread of diseases and other health hazards.
- Soil pollution: Leaving human waste on the ground can pollute the soil and disrupt the natural ecosystem. It can also attract wildlife, which can become habituated to human presence and pose a risk to other hikers.
- Aesthetic degradation: Nobody wants to stumble upon a pile of human waste while enjoying the scenic beauty of the wilderness. It can spoil the natural aesthetics of the environment and detract from the overall wilderness experience for others.
- Legal and ethical reasons: In many wilderness areas, packing out human waste is a legal requirement. It is also an ethical responsibility to minimise our impact on the environment and leave it as we found it for future generations to enjoy.
How to pack out your poo?
Now that you understand the importance of packing out your poo, let’s talk about how to do it properly. The easiest way to pack out your waste is to use a specialised bag that’s designed for this purpose, like a WAG Bag. These bags are usually made of a strong, puncture-resistant material and have a sealable top that will keep the odor contained.
To use the bag, you’ll need to do the following:
- Find a secluded spot away from any water sources or trails.
- Dig a hole that’s at least 6-8 inches deep.
- Do your business in the hole.
- Use toilet paper or wipes to clean yourself.
- Place the used toilet paper or wipes in the bag.
- Carefully seal the bag, making sure to expel as much air as possible.
- Store the bag in a secure location in your pack until you can dispose of it properly.
Tips for packing out your poo
Packing out your poo may not be the most pleasant experience, but there are a few things you can do to make the process a little easier:
- Bring plenty of bags: You never know how many times you’ll need to use the bathroom on a hike, so it’s best to be prepared with plenty of bags.
- Use biodegradable toilet paper: Try to always pack out your toilet paper. If you’re using toilet paper but are unable to pack it out, make sure it’s biodegradable. Regular toilet paper can take a long time to break down and can be harmful to the environment.
- Consider a wag bag: A wag bag is a specialised bag that comes with a powder that helps solidify waste and reduce odor. This can make the process of packing out your poo a little more manageable.
- Practice good hygiene: Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling your waste and before handling any food or water.
While it may not be the most glamorous part of outdoor recreation, packing out your poo is an important part of being a responsible hiker or camper. It may not be the most pleasant task, but it’s an essential one to preserve the natural beauty of our wilderness areas, protect water sources, and ensure the health. By taking the time to properly dispose of your waste, you’re doing your part to protect the environment and show respect for the natural world around you.
So, the next time you’re planning a hike or camping trip, make sure to pack out your poo!