How to Poop in Nature

We’ve all been there. Inevitably, as soon as you find yourself too far from the rest area, port pot, or public toilet – assuming they are open at all – you have to drive . And when you have to go, you have to go.

This is a topic that most people hate to talk about, but as this famous children’s book taught us, “everyone poops.” So, what do you do when you need to, but you are in an area without a toilet? I spoke with experts at the Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics Center about how to run your business responsibly, whether you are hiking in the woods, mountain biking, or walking at your local beach, playground, or park.

Read the rules before you hit the road.

Some wilderness areas require you to collect all human waste, especially along river corridors and in fragile ecosystems such as deserts or alpine wilderness. This means you have to carry it home like a dog-bag, but we’ll talk more about the procedure below. “Garbage collection is a whole new level for people,” says Feith Overall, Leave No Trace Education and Outreach Coordinator. “But the reason is that the soil is too fragile for this substance to decompose.”

Compliance with the rules is not only for the protection of the environment; he also protects other people. “In human waste contains more than 100 different protozoa, viruses and bacteria, so they can be a great vector of the spread of disease”, – said Ben Louhon, director of the Education Center for Ethics outdoor ” Untraceable” . “But this is just disgusting, isn’t it? Nobody wants to see this anymore. “

If you’re unsure, check the rules before visiting – and of course before leaving anything.

Laws change in less wild places. Public urination is illegal in most of the United States – and depending on the state, by the side of a highway, or given a playground, it can count – so you need to be sure you know you’re not trespassing or otherwise committing a crime. (Always good, right?)

Always be prepared

Pooping in nature is not as easy as improving squats. You will need supplies too.

At a minimum, you will need a small spatula and hand sanitizer. For toilet paper, avoid using the leaves (even if you’re sure it’s not poison ivy) in favor of a store-bought, biodegradable option.

You can purchase a portable toilet from a brand such as ECO-Safe if you would like more information on this; they cost between $ 200 and $ 500. But for a regular hike or walk in the fresh air, you don’t need much unless you’re in the pick-up and drop-off area.

While cleaning up after peeing in the woods is fairly straightforward for men, it may require a little more attention for women. A common piece of travel gear is a so-called writing rag, usually a piece of bandana (or a fancy anti-microbial cloth like this ) tied to the outside of your backpack or in a separate bag that offers a reusable wipe option that you can throw away when you return. home.

Other popular options for women are standing urination devices (FUD) such as the PeePocket , LadyP, and GoGirl . Or you can make your own :

These illustrious funnels will help if you don’t want to get stuck in your pants around your ankles or if you just can’t squat. Just make sure you train before you leave – they can take a while to get used to. (Trust me on this!)

Walk 200 feet

Wherever you are, take a walk before you start. 200 feet – or about 70 leaps and bounds – is a good start to getting into the bathroom outside. You must be far enough away from people, houses, roads, picnic areas, and most importantly, water sources to avoid contamination. (And also so as not to pester others.)

Of course, you may not always be able to get that far from water, roads, or other public places, so you need to be careful when doing this. “It’s not always possible, so we just encourage people to do their best,” Louhon says. “You want to think about biophysical impacts on the landscape, but also about the social dimension.”

Find the right place

The best place is one that other people don’t use often. “When we look at the scientific literature, urine is relatively harmless to the environment, unless it’s in high concentrations,” Louhon says. “If you go on a popular hike and there is an observation deck at the end of the trail, everyone follows the first tree they can find.”

Look for rocky areas or patches of bare soil rather than disturb existing plants or grassy areas. If you go # 2, dig a so-called hole four to six inches deep , and when you’re done, bury the waste using the nearest stick. Your putty knife should only be used for digging a hole so that there is no cross contamination when used in the future. You can bury toilet paper (especially biodegradable), but ideally, for the least environmental impact, you should bring a bag to wrap any toilet paper you use.

Dispose of waste correctly

If you need to pack your things, do it properly. “You can’t just put it in a bag and throw it in the trash,” says Overall. Dumping human waste in landfills is not only illegal but also unsanitary.

Made by brands like Cleanwaste, WAG’s EPA approved waste and gelling reduction bags contain a waste treatment powder inside that breaks down feces and makes them safe to throw away. If you use one of them, you can throw it in the trash can.

For most people, doing business in the forest is clearly outside their comfort zone. Even if you’re not ready for a WAG bag situation (or even a camp latrine), it’s better to understand your surroundings and understand how you impact the environment. “The only thing I would like to say when thinking about disposing of human waste outdoors is the whole spectrum,” Louhon says. “It is better to do something to minimize the influence of the human race than to do nothing at all.”


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