Leave No Trace Principle 3: Dispose of Waste Properly
𝐏𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐢𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝟑: 𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐖𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐥𝐲
𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝟑: 𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐬𝐡 𝐓𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞
Happy Earth Day! The third principle of Leave No Trace, dispose of waste properly, is a great way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In lieu of our annual Adopt-A-Highway Cleanup, Carpenter Nature Center is hosting a Trash Clean Up Contest. Entry is free, and participation is open to anyone, anywhere! You can find out more about the contest here https://www.facebook.com/events/229456011626117/
Disposing of waste properly is arguably one of the most important principles to follow when in the outdoors. So, what do we mean when we talk about waste? Waste covers everything from human and pet waste, food waste and packaging, toilet paper, cooking water and soaps. Understanding proper disposal for each category is important in maintaining the integrity of the places we recreate.
𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐬𝐡: Trash is what most of us think of when we think of waste on trail. When on a multiple day trip, you can limit the amount of trash you have to deal with by opening meals ahead of time. Repackaging food into Ziplock bags will allow you to minimize packaging and trash you must carry. Trash left behind is harmful in many ways. It is unsightly to other visitors and can attract animals. Animals frequently exposed to food waste can become a problem for land managers and visitors. Packaging and wrappers left behind can also end up in water ways and take many years to decompose, if at all! The general rule to follow is “pack it in, pack it out”. This mean that whatever you bring with you, you must also bring home! You can also go a step further and pick up trash left by others. Leave it better than you found it is the golden rule of LNT.
𝐇𝐮𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐖𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞: The goals when disposing of human waste are to minimize the spread of disease, prevent pollution of any water source, increase rate of decomposition and prevent negative implications of an animal or another visitor finding it. When available, always use latrines provided by land managers. If you are in the backcountry, and there are no designated restroom facilities, responsible hikers will dig a cathole. A cathole is a small pit where human waste and toilet paper are buried. Similar for other waste, catholes should be dug at least 200 feet away from water, camp or trail. Some hikers also choose to also pack out their toilet paper.
Pet Waste: Many people feel leaving behind pet waste is not big deal. However, dog waste can harbor viruses, bacteria and parasites including E coli and worms, both of which can be transmitted to humans. When bringing your furry friend outdoors, it is important to plan ahead and prepare by bringing along doggie bags. Then be sure to dispose of the used doggie bag in the trash bin! https://www.livescience.com/44732-eliminating-pet-poop-pollution.html
𝐒𝐨𝐚𝐩𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐆𝐫𝐞𝐲 𝐖𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫: Disposing of soaps and grey water properly can be one of the hardest habits to build. It can be tempting to wash your dishes directly in a running stream. Soaps, cooking and bathing water, even when biodegradable, are damaging to our waterways. Never use soaps directly in a water source. Similar to human waste, it is important to dispose of grey water 200 feet away from water and camp. Once 200 feet away, cast wastewater out in a wide arc. This will dilute any smell and allow the soil to act as a natural filter.
Disposing of Waste Properly is an important part of Leave No Trace, a campsite covered in food wrappers, a trail littered with water bottles or a river rolling with rubbish is no one’s idea of a positive experience in nature. You can learn more about the longevity of the waste we leave behind by playing the game,𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐬𝐡 𝐓𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 on our Facebook page.