Yesterday I wrote about the importance of keeping our earth healthy when hiking. Today let us discuss some easy strategies to accomplish this. Depending upon how long your hike is you can implement the necessary things to keep things clean and or leave no trace. Obviously, on a short hike the only thing you might bring is water if that is all you bring use your favorite reusable water bottle to lessen the impact on overall waste. If you are planning on a longer hike with snacks, make sure you haul out all those annoying wrappers. Lastly, if you are going on hike where there are not any restroom facilities you should plan for disposal.
The short hikes with only water and snacks should be easy to figure out, if you pack it in pack out simple. If you need to go to the bathroom on those longer hikes and there are not any facilities, some methods and products will help. Interestingly, I read an article that said urine does not have a negative impact on the environment. It is advisable to urinate on pine needles or gravel to lessen the chance of attracting animals. Also probably not a good idea to urinate on the trail where others might see you or step in it. Easy so far if you only have water or snacks pack out your trash, if you urinate pay attention to where you urinate.
Solid waste is a little more complicated and for good reason more caution needs to be taken when properly disposing of it. There are products on the market for this such as WAG bags (waste alleviation and gelling) which are packed in and out. These bags are easy to use and the gelling material breaks down the solid waste so even when you pack it out it does not end up causing problems in your local landfill. Another method is called cat holes; these need to at least 200 feet from any water source, 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter. These holes should be well off any established trail and in organic soil to work best. All other waste associated with solid waste such as toilet paper and feminine hygiene products need to be packed out with any other garbage.
What is the best way to pack the waste out? There are backpacks that have liners to haul the waste out but the best is a quality garbage bag that can be used and carried in the backpack, one that is recommended is a trash compactor bag. Other strategies include being a minimalist in everything you pack including your food. There are all sorts of products available geared towards hikers and outdoors adventurists but keep in mind the packaging on those materials, just because they are easy for the hike they still might fill up the landfill when you get home.
Get out and experience the beauty on a hike but keep it that way by your actions.