Properly Dispose of What You Can’t Pack Out

pot panWashing and human waste disposal must be done carefully so the environment is not polluted, and animals and aquatic life are not injured. Water can be polluted with soaps-biodegradable or otherwise-food waste, or human waste. Toilet paper and other trash also create an eyesore.

Wash water:

If a cleaning station is provided, use it. If not, do all dishes, clothes washing and personal washing at least 200 feet from water sources and campsites. Use a cookpot or water jug to carry water to your wash site. For kitchen waste, collect food scraps in a plastic bag before washing. Hot water and a scrub pad clean well if you use soap, small amounts are easier to rinse and dispose of. Strain gray water with a sieve or bandanna over a wide area and carry out any remaining waste.

Swimming in lakes or streams is fine, but in desert areas, leave scarce water holes undisturbed and unpolluted so animals may drink from them.

Human waste:

If a toilet is available, use it. If not, urinate away from trails, camps and sites where people gather. Feces should be kept from contact by people, animals, insects and water. To assure this happens, put human waste in a “cathole.” Choose a remote spot and dig a shallow hole (4-8 inches deep) in topsoil. When finished, cover the hole with dirt and disguise it. Either carry out toilet paper in a plastic bag or bury it deeply so it is not dug up or left in the open. Dig catholes at least 200 feet from camps, trails, water and dry gullies. You may need to walk well over 200 feet to ensure that catholes are well separated if you’re in a popular area, or you stay more than one night at a site.


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