This Week's Green Tip: Disposing of Waste Properly
Hello Family! Thanks for tuning into this week’s green tip and week three of Leave No Trace mentality! This week we’re going to get up close and personal and talk about one my favorite things, poop. (Fun activity: on average, African elephants poop about 165 lbs per day which equals about 6.9 lbs per hour. Take your weight and divide it by 6.9 and that’s roughly how many hours of elephant poop you weigh.) For example, I weigh 165 lbs, which is 24 hours worth of elephant digestive habits, wow! Adam, however, weighs 155 lbs, which is about 22.5 hrs worth of poop, amazing! Our roommate, Bearded Kyle, weighs about 195 lbs- about 28.3 hours worth, astonishing, that’s a lot of poop Kyle.
Getting back on track here, week 3 of Leave No Trace focuses on disposing of waste properly, specifically, your poop. When nature calls and you’re 10’s of miles from the closest restroom, it’s time to face the facts, find a comfortable fallen tree, rock, or whatever you fancy, and feel closer to your surroundings than ever before. Take a deep breath, sink in your surroundings,and become your spirit animal (pooping).
As you may be thinking, “why do I have to worry about disposing of my poop? Animals poop everywhere, all the time outside and don’t take the necessary precautions to dispose of it.” While that’s true, we must remember that as stewards of our environment, it is our duty (haha) to create as minimal of an impact on our surroundings as possible. Remember Nike’s slogan? Just do it.
In most cases, digging a small hole, or what science calls it, a cathole, is the best way to properly dispose of human waste. It was formerly thought that burying feces would speed up the process of decomposition, but more recent study have shown that the process is actually prolonged. However, it is still the best way to minimize exposure to pathogens and gross particulates.
While this sounds easy enough, you can’t just go digging holes all over the place and poopin’ wherever you want. There are some rules. These sites should be chosen methodically, taking both your campsite and the environment into account. The Leave No Trace website explains it best by stating to “locate catholes at least 200 ft (about 70 adult steps) “(real scientific measurement)” from water, trails, and camp. Select an inconspicuous site where other people will be unlikely to walk or camp.” With a small shovel or trowel dig a hole about 4-6 inches in diameter and about 6-8 inches deep (possibly a bit deeper, depending on what you’ve eaten the day before). After business is finished, cover your hole back up with dirt and decorate it with a nice rock or other natural materials. Remember to keep your catholes spread out far from each other, especially when in larger groups.
I’m sure many of you, like us here at Powe., consider themselves perfectionists. So… here’s a few more tips on how to be the best cathole digger on the mountain. Look for organic soils for your site, these darker soils have more microbes and organisms that can help speed up the process. Areas that get more sunlight are also preferable, as the heat from the sun will also help decomposition. Choose sites with higher elevation that aren’t impacted as much by rain storm runoff.
Once again, thanks for your support and be sure to throw a pair of underwear in your freezer for this upcoming winter. For more info visit www.lnt.org.