Tag Archives: picking up trash

How to Be a Good Neighbor While Camping

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Six Camping Tents in ForestWhether you’re boondocking or paying to stay in an actual campground, certain behaviors fall into “good neighbor” and “bad neighbor” categories. Wouldn’t you rather be remembered as a good neighbor instead of being cursed for being a bad neighbor?

I touched on some of these good neighbor tips in my post on the Fundamentals of Boondocking, but they are important enough to bear repeating. None of these behaviors are difficult, so please take a few extra minutes to do things to make the camping experience positive for everyone in the general vicinity.

#1 Give people space. As I said in the boondocking post, people go out into the wilderness for quiet and solitude, not to be under the armpit of another boondocker. Of course, there’s not much you can do to give your neighbors more space if you’re staying in a campground and you’re within the boudaries of your site. Just be sure you don’t overflow your site and move into someone else’s territory.

#2 Stay out of other people’s campsites. Go around other campsites instead of walking right through them. Teach your children to walk around other people’s campsites too.

#3 Keep control of your dog. Don’t let your dog wander through other campsites either, or anywhere in a Young woman walking with her dog on the beachcampground or boondocking area. A USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture, the governmental agency responsipble for the Forest Service) document states,

National forest guidelines require that dogs be on a six-foot leash at all times when in developed recreation areas and on interpretive trails.

Most privately owned campgrounds are also going to require dogs to be leashed, especially if the city or county the campground is in has a leash law.

Even if you are in an area that doesn’t require your dog to be on a leash, you still have to keep it under your control. Don’t let it wander out of your camp, and for goodness sake, if your dog defecates in a place where someone may stop in the mess, clean it up!

animal, animal photography, bear#4 Speaking of cleaning up, keep a clean campsite. You might wonder why anyone else would care if your camp is clean or dirty. Campsites strewn with food and/or garbage can attract insects, birds, raccoons, bears, and who-knows-what other critters. Scavengers aren’t going to end their foraging on the dirty campsite; they’ll make the rounds to see what other foodstuffs they can scare up. Don’t be the bad camper who draws pesky animals into the camping area.

(If you’re worried about bears in particular getting into your food, you might look into getting a bear canister.)

#5 Clean up some more before you leave and pick up all your trash. If there are garbage cans or dumpsters in the camping area, deposit your trash there. If you’re in an area with no receptacles for garbage, pack out all the trash you’ve packed in. Don’t leave trash (even partially burnt trash) in your fire ring; if no one removes your trash from the fire ring, it’s going to be an eyesore and a nuisance for the next campers. Pick up micro-trash! Twist ties, plastic bread bag clips, bottle caps, cigarette butts, and plastic bandages are trash too and need to be removed!

A true steward of the earth will pick up trash left behind by others.

#6 Don’t make a mess in restrooms. Learn how to use a pit toilet before you encounter one. If you do make a mess clean it up. The vast majority of camp hosts and fellow campers do not want to deal with urine and feces that don’t belong to them.

#7 If there are no restrooms in the area and you have to resort to burying your feces, do not bury your toilet paper! It doesn’t decompose as fast as you think it does. (I’ve read it can take a year or more for toilet paper left in the woods to break down, but the author of that blog post does not say where that information comes from.) It’s gross to encounter other people’s toilet paper if it’s dug up by animals or uncovered by rain or wind. When it comes to toilet paper, you should pack out what you pack in.

#8 Drive slowly. If the road is unpaved, driving slowly will cut down on dust. Even if the road is paved, drive Photo of White Bmw E46 slowly for safety’s sake. If a kid or an unleashed dog or a wild critter darts out in the road, you want to be able to stop in time to avoid a catastrophe.

#9 Don’t play music loud enough for others to hear it. Many people go camping to get away from the sound of civilization, including recorded music. If you’re camping, especially on public land, let the sounds of nature prevail.

#10 Don’t fly your drone over other people’s campsites. If you really want to be a good neighbor, don’t fly your drone while other people are around. Remember, many people who are camping want to hear the sounds of nature, not the buzzing of a drone. If you must fly your drone while others are around, at least have the courtesy to fly it away from campsites.

What do you do to be a good neighbor while camping? What do you wish other campers would do to be good neighbors? Leave your comments below.

Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/six-camping-tents-in-forest-699558/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/young-woman-walking-with-her-dog-on-the-beach-6359/https://www.pexels.com/photo/animal-animal-photography-bear-big-213988/, and https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-bmw-e46-under-cloudy-skies-707046.

People Are So Nasty

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At the beginning of last year’s camping season, when I walked through my campground picking up microtrash, I found a used condom. Picking up a used condom was bad, but it had been lying on the ground for a while, so was quite dry. It wasn’t as bad as it would have been if the condom had been recently used.

What I found at the beginning of this camping season was worse than a freshly used condom.

Around site #2, quite a bit of toilet paper had been left by people or scattered there by the wind. It was kind of gross to think about picking up toilet paper, so I didn’t think about it too much and just went about my work. Then I picked up a piece of toilet paper and under it discovered a pile of human feces. Gross! Yuck! Disgusting!

Who does that?

I’m pretty sure at least two restrooms in the campground were not locked during the off season. Those two are older restrooms, with no locks on the outside of the doors. I don’t think anyone installed locks on those doors in the fall, then removed them in the spring. So whoever shit on the ground most likely had pit toilets at his/her disposal. The Camping Expert website reminds readers

If facilities exist, use facilities in the area. Pooping on a toilet is ALWAYS better than pooping in the woods.

If the ground shitter was such an avid outdoor enthusiast that s/he didn’t want to use the pit toilet, s/he should have taken care of business properly.

According to the Men’s Journal website, there is a proper way to shit in the woods (which I guess could apply to campgrounds, although the article says

Make sure you get at least 200 feet (about 70 paces) away from the trail, water, or campsite.)

The aforementioned article says burial works in areas that don’t have a sensitive environment or are located near water or a canyon, or where campers are required by law to carry their feces out with them.

In soil, dig a hole at least 6 inches deep. The National Outdoor Leadership School suggests scraping the sides of the hole to loosen some dirt to stir into your poop to speed up the natural breakdown process when you’re done. Always conclude the burial process by covering the hole and tamping it down.

The Camping Expert website also advises

Put a cross or stake into your pile to warn other poopers of your pile.

As for toilet paper, the Camping Expert says

DO NOT BURY the toilet paper. I cannot stress this enough.
I know that a lot of people recommend to bury it, and that it will decompose, it is paper after all… however, I have seen lots of toilet paper that hasn’t decomposed and looks gross, sticking out of a dirt pile and once, I even saw a little red squirrel running with a toilet paper strand in it’s [sic] mouth to use in it’s [sic] nest. EWW.

Once at an infoshop, I glanced through a book called How to Shit in the Woods by Kathleen Meyer. I always wanted to read the book but have never come across it at a thrift store or on BookMooch.

How to Shit in the Woods, 3rd Edition: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art

I bet the person who defecated on the ground and then covered it with a piece of toilet paper on site #2 never read Meyer’s book! I wonder if that person had any idea how long it takes human waste to biodegrade (about a year, according to an article on the Mother Jones websit.) I wonder if s/he gave any thought to the person (me!) who’d have to clean up the mess.

After discovering what was hidden under the toilet paper, I walked over to my storage room and got my shovel. I scooped everything up and deposited it in the trashcan. It was a gross job; it made me grumpy.