Pack it Out, Pack it In: What Hip Hop Legends Have in Common with Leave No Trace (LNT)
Pack it out, pack it in, let me begin." - 1990s Hip Hop legends and Leave No Trace (LNT) experts, House of Pain. First and foremost, our Social Media Manager requests that you please comment with 🎵 if you know this song and 🤔 if you've never heard it. (Pause.) Now that we've gotten the Gen Z/Millennial poll out of the way, here's our take on the Third Principle of LNT: Disposing of Waste Properly.
Leaving trash in the wake of recreation causes damage to the ecosystem, harm to wildlife, and results in unsightly views for fellow outdoor enthusiasts. Let’s cover some of the most frequent bases:
- Garbage: If you packed it out (of your house) pack it in (your pack!). Whether you’re overnight-adventuring or just going on a run along your local trails, try to be conscious of the litter you may leave behind. Some of the most overlooked culprits include snack wrappers, nut debris (pistachio shells are still trash, taking 4 years to break down!) and for whatever reason, so many of the disposable floss sticks. (Are people flossing and running? We have questions.) Pack your micro trash with you and protect the ecosystem, wildlife, and sanctity of the places where we recreate.
- Human Waste: We’d like to consider ourselves experts in the pee arena (dusts shoulders off), which is why we talk about this topic frequently. TLDR? Here’s the gist: Pee at least 200 feet from trails, campsites, or high-traffic areas, favoring rocks over vegetation. Keep a distance of 200 feet near alpine lakes or water sources. If flow exceeds 500 cubic feet per second, (think the Colorado River, or the ocean) pee directly into the water. Dispose of toilet paper responsibly, using a waste bag or a reusable pee cloth like a Kula Cloth to preserve the outdoor experience and avoid negative impacts on wildlife.
- Menstrual Waste: Proper disposal of tampons and pads involves packing them out, not burying, as they don't readily decompose and may attract animals if dug up. Tampons without applicators can help minimize trash. (Check out our friends at Viv!) Use a sealable plastic bag covered in duct tape for packing out these items, along with toilet paper if you’re in an arid climate.
If using a menstrual cup, dispose of waste in a cat hole, similar to solid human waste, positioned 200 feet away from water sources, trails, and campsites. Dig a 6-8 inch deep hole, deposit waste, refill, and camouflage.
Knowing before you go is half the battle. While you’re getting excited for your outing, be sure to also be excited about a designated "gar-bashe" (we checked, and that's the technical term for "garbage"). Having a designated bag for waste solves the problem of "oh no, where am I going to put this?" or any other trash you see on the trail. Remember, leave it better than you found it, and pee freely (within LNT suggestions).