Proper Poop Etiquette: How Not to Be An Outdoor Schmuck

Leave No Trace: how to dispose of human waste outdoors

Human waste is still litter! Discover ways of handling your body’s trash.

The popular rule is to bury your body waste, but not all camping areas follow that rule. Here are ways you can deal with handling your own crap in the backcountry.


Burying Poop

Leave No Trace: bury human poop outdoors

Travel at least 200 feet away from your campsite, trail and water sources. Using a shovel or trowel, dig a hole that’s 4-6 inches deep. When you’re done pooping, bury any tissue or material used to clean up. Then refill the hole with soil. Add humus prior to refilling if you want to increase the efficiency of feces decomposition (helps the soil provide more nutrition for nearby plants). Most river canyons prohibit burial of human feces; you must carry it out.


BYOT (Bring Your Own Toilet)

Camping toilet

You can BYOT if the park or camping area permits it. They will have a section or container for you to dispose of human waste. The disadvantage of camping toilets is cleaning all the brown at the end of your trip, plus they’re heavy so car camping is the only time you’d ever bring this item. For backpacking or even hiking, a carrying solution is your best bet.


Carrying Human Waste

Leave No Trace: carry out human poop waste in special bags

Yes, you might encounter a situation where you’ll need to carry out your own poop. Fear not! You don’t need to haul odorous trash bags—utilize Wag Bags instead. They’re mini-treatment systems with toiletry accessories that solidify, deodorize and start the decomposition process within each bag. For extra protection, you can bring along a heavy trash bag to store them. The Wag Bags must be disposed of in special marked containers. When choosing a Wag Bag, make sure it comes with components that makes the process convenient, odorless and easy to pack. The Go Anywhere Waste Kit Bags by Cleanwaste produces lightweight bags for this purpose.


Tampons While Camping/Backpacking in the Outdoors

Leave No Trace: how to handle and dispose of tampons in the outdoors while camping/backpacking/hiking

Pads and tampons can be tricky to handle in the outdoors. Disposing of them is nearly impossible since they pollute the environment and predatory animals can detect its scent. There are some ways to handle this issue:

  • Fill a zip-lock bag with 1/4 cup of baking soda. Place all your used tampons in it. Dispose of it when you return home.
  • Wear Diva Cups or other menstrual cups.
  • Do Not Use Sea Sponges! There’s old advice about using sea sponges but a study by the University of Iowa found bacteria, sand and other material that increase the risk of infection.

Make sure you bring along hand wipes or other mini-washing solutions to clean up after yourself.


Urinating Outdoors

Leave No Trace: urinating outdoors

This is the only activity that you can do anywhere. You can attract unwanted attention from animals that detect the smell of salts in our urine so try to avoid pissing near your campground. Try to urinate on gravel and soil since plant leaves can absorb the scent and make it linger. You can pour water on top of your urine to neutralize the odor.

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