Dispose of Waste Properly

If there’s one principle of proper camping that’s best known, it’s probably “dispose of waste properly.” Many people equate this with the phrase “Pack it in; pack it out” and figure that it’s mostly to do with litter – which is a good start. Adherence to this principle also means packing out food waste rather than burning it, so fire pits stay free of food residue. Food scraps and grease (think bacon grease in a frontcountry campground as an extreme example) never fully disappear when they’re burned in a wood fire. To be convinced of this, watch the flies hovering many a fire pit in areas where food scraps have been burned – and realize that bears, with their superior sense of smell, can easily tell where food has been burned and food residues persist. A good way not attract bears, and to keep campsites and shelters open, is to not burn food scraps in fire rings and not leave any food behind for others.

Additional guidance to keep campsites, shelter areas, and water sources healthy:

Human waste: Deposit fecal waste (only) in privies, or bury it in soil 6-8” deep, well away from the trail, and at least 200 feet (80+ steps) from water, campsites and shelters, or pack it out.

Grey water: Disperse urine, toothpaste, strained dishwater and cooking water at least 100 feet (40+ steps) away from campsites and shelters, and 200 feet (80+ steps) from water.

Watch the videos to see this principle being humorously illustrated.

Tom Banks co-produced and directed the “Don’t Be That Guy – Leave No Trace on the Appalachian Trail” video series.