What to do with your Winter Camping poo? If you don’t have the luxury of portable toilets near your activity area, you’ll need to consider how to best dispose of human waste. The soil is usually several feet out of reach and hard as a rock unless you can locate a patch of bare ground where a trowel can penetrate the duff.
Burying it in the snow isn’t acceptable. Human waste buried in snow will find itself lying on the ground surface once the spring thaw occurs and the poo, once hidden from view, becomes exposed and soon contaminates nearby waterways.
A couple of years ago the Cairngorm’s National Park in Scotland developed a rather elegant solution to the problem of frozen feces. Although by no means an unique idea, the Poo Project provides snow campers with special water/air tight containers, and biodegradable plastic poo bags.
The Poo Project was setup two years ago with the aim of reducing the amount of human waste by carrying waste back in special pots and bags and which is treated at the sewage treatment plant at Cairngorm. The pots are reusable, water tight and air tight containers which come with a carry case. The Poo bags are made from corn starch and will breakup once in our treatment facility.
After picking them up from the Cairngorm ranger’s station, the user takes the bags and tube up into the wintery wilds. When the urge requires them to vacate their bowels, they do this into the bags. These are tied shut and stowed in the tube. When coming off the mountain, the user simply drops the bags into the the car-park’s clearly marked Poo Chute. This deposits them into the park’s sewage system. The tube is thrown into a sterilizing barrel next to the chute. The tube is cleaned, so other users can take it into the hills.
Many other national parks around the globe require commercial operators to adhere to very similar principles, when leading paying customers into the mountains. What makes Scotland’s Poo Project so different, is it’s a service provided to the general public for free. More information is available here.
Without a support infrastructure like the Poo Project the best solution is to pack it out. Hey it’s winter and your poo will freeze so you won’t have to worry about odor. Because waste is frozen in the winter, packing it out is not as distasteful as you may think. There are a couple of options: A Wag Bag or colored ziploc bags. The Wag Bag is now called the Go Anywhere Toilet Kit. It is designed to be used on its own to pack-out human waste. Wag Bags are required items at certain locations to lessen environmental impact.
The kit is a double bag system made from spill-proof, puncture-resistant material. An inner waste bag comes preloaded with a Poo Powder gelling agent that turns liquids solid, and contains natural odor control and decay catalysts. The inner bag can be used multiple times, for up to 32 ounces of waste. When finished, put the inner bag inside the sturdy, outer zip-close disposal bag. The kit’s packaging and ingredients are biodegradable, EPA Class II waste, landfill approved. Each kit includes toilet paper sheets and an antiseptic hand wipe. MSRP: $39.99 per 12 pack available from a variety of sources including www.gocleanwaste.com or www.ThePett.com
A cheaper alternative is using colored re-closable bag (e.g. ziploc) just for solid wastes. These bags can be purchased by the carton from a shipping supply company such as Uline. These can contain your waste (or feminine hygiene products) out of sight.
Also, no one likes to look a “yellow snow”, so be sure to cover urine with clean snow.