SheFly’s Complete Guide to Answering Nature’s Call Responsibly: LNT Best Practices
If you’re wondering about whether you can (or should) pee outside, the answer is YES! With SheFlys, we can pee freely in the outdoors! Keep in mind though—with greater freedom comes a greater responsibility around the ~now boundless~ recreation in our favorite outdoor spaces. Just like other animals, peeing outside is natural—and highly encouraged! But as with all responsible outdoor recreation, Leave No Trace (LNT) applies to using our SheFlys, too, and there are plenty of ways to tread lightly while answering nature’s call. Whether you’re venturing into the backcountry or your backyard, read on to learn our tips for best bathroom practices in the great outdoors (using the best all-season hiking pants out there!).
1. Learn about LNT
LNT or Leave No Trace is a framework of minimum impact practices informed by the latest biological and environmental research that allow anyone visiting the outdoors to do so responsibly and with the least amount of disturbance to the landscape and organisms of the place they’re recreating in. There are 7 principles of Leave No Trace, 4 of which tie into answering nature’s call. When relieving yourself outside responsibly you’ll be taking into account Principle 1: Plan Ahead & Prepare and Principle 3: Dispose of Waste Properly, both of which relate to Principle 6: Respect Wildlife and Principle 7: Be Considerate of Other Visitors. Check out their website to learn about all of the principles and how to incorporate them into all kinds of outdoor recreation.
2. Location is Key
Knowing how to apply Leave No Trace in the outdoors is crucial if you want to be an ally to the earth. Depending on where you are in the world, LNT practices will vary based on what’s best for the flora and fauna of that ecosystem. For example, if you’re an extreme SheFly user, activating the second super power of SheFlys (easy access to going #2!) will look different in the desert where you should pack it out as opposed to a forested area, where you would likely dig a cat hole (a 6-inch deep hole to bury your deposit) instead. And certain types of ground flora will withstand some level of trampling and exposure to human waste, whereas others such as alpine flora may be much more sensitive. These are just a few reasons to always do your research on the location of where you’re visiting before you go—“Know before you go!”
3. Keep Your Distance from Water
A good rule of thumb is to stay 200 feet away from water, but some places will have special requirements. It is important to remember that several of the water systems we recreate in flow directly into our drinking water sources. We should do our best to keep these babbling brooks, gorgeous glacial lakes, and winding canyon rivers sparkling clean. This practice should be employed wherever you are—if you wouldn’t want someone polluting your water source, don’t pollute theirs either!
4. Stay Off the Trail
Before doing your business in the woods, see if there is a designated area already set up, like a porta potty or backcountry privy. If there aren’t any accessible, then venture to your spot. Be courteous of other visitors and take a walk off trail when going to the bathroom outside. In places where off-trail excursions are highly discouraged, consider packing it out in something like a wag bag.
Here’s a couple of questions we’ve had before: What effect does the pee have on plants? Are animals attracted to pee? While pee isn’t super toxic to most vegetation, some wildlife will be attracted to the salts from the urine and dig up plants and soil in that area. One way you can reduce the chances of this happening is to pee on rocks, pine needles, and gravel if these surfaces are around. Then simply dilute the urine with water to minimize the smell.
6. Pack Out Your Paper and Leave it How You Found It
Whether going #1 or #2, you should always be packing out any toilet paper used. And for peeing outside, you really shouldn’t need toilet paper and can instead use a zero-waste wipe alternative like a Kula Cloth to clean up. And before you leave, cover the spot with any surrounding material like brush or leaves, as though you weren’t even there.
7. These are Changing Times - Keep in Mind High Use
While it’s super exciting to hear that more people are recreating outdoors and everyone should have the opportunity to do so, high use has some serious consequences. With a little more education, we can all enjoy outdoor spaces. If we all keep the earth in mind and tread lightly, many of the issues associated with high use such as increasingly dangerous wildlife encounters, erosion, invasive species spread, trash prevalence, and more can all be minimized. In fact, more and more people are joining the conversation about packing out all the time, regardless of where you are, due to high use. Our friends at Pact Outdoors are even working on an all-in-one bathroom kit that uses mycelium tablets to make poop decompose faster, so keep an eye out for their product launch this summer! Take a couple minutes to learn about common issues with high use, some of the recreation areas that are most experiencing it, and how we can all do our part to keep the outdoors beautiful!
Have another tip you’d like to share with us or want to keep the LNT conversation going? Share your thoughts in a comment below!