This week there have been some great outdoor toilet tips over on Twitter. Here’s my Ten Commandments fleshed out now I can use more than 140 characters each:
1. In high traffic and environmentally sensitive areas make sure you take along the necessary packaging to pack up your crap and associated paper or wipes and carry it all out with you.
2. In less sensitive areas the best compromise environmentally speaking is to bury your crap. The hole should be 30cm/12″ or deeper (45cm or 18″ is better but you’ll start to struggle if you’re using a trowel!) as the waste is more efficiently processed by the anaerobic bacteria that live down there.
3. Never bury toilet paper. It takes yeeaaaarrrrss to biodegrade (if ever). When there’s no fire risk burn it – either take it back to camp and pop it in the camp fire or burn right after use and and add the ash to your pooh hole. Make sure it’s entirely burnt.
4. In high fire risk areas or very dry weather wrap up your used toilet paper and pack it out with you for disposal later.
5. Any latrine should be at least 50m/165ft from any water source. Just to give you an idea why, heres some of the diseases that can be passed via the faecal-oral route: Giardiasis, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E, Rotavirus, Shigellosis (bacillary dysentery), Typhoid fever, Enteroviruses, including poliomyelitis, Cholera, Clostridium difficile, Cryptosporidiosis.
6. When you’ve finished and your ceremonial burning of the toilet paper is complete, refill your pooh-hole with excavated earth and for other’s sake, mark with crossed sticks or somesuch to avoid a nasty surprise for the next person finding the secluded spot you did. Obviously in very remote areas this is less of a concern.
7. Please don’t just take a shit and leave it lying around. Think of others (and your) hygiene – and the view!
8. Likewise, if you use tissues, toilet paper or wipes don’t just pop them under a rock or throw them in a bush as in the picture. I don’t expect anyone reading this to fall into this category but I’ll say it anyway. This will really piss someone (possibly me!) off when they find it in an otherwise idyllic location and who do you think will clear it up somewhere on a mountainside or wherever?
9. Become scrupulous about personal hygiene. In the close confines of an expedition or just camping with mates it’s very easy to pass on the previously mentioned nasties, amongst others. Use hand sanitisers, soap, whatever. Getting diarrhoea/sickness outdoors really sucks.
10. There’s nothing like the primal freedom of outdoor toileting – enjoy it when you have the chance!
My only other advice for now comes from bitter experience. If you wear a knife on your belt (or anything else on your belt for that matter) make sure it’s secured or removed before using any sort of hole in the ground. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination but the results of a mishap aren’t pretty!