Leave No Trace: And that means Toilet Paper too!

Nobody likes litter. It’s ugly. But even worse is toilet paper. It’s not only litter…it’s…um…dirty litter. Ew.

No…it won’t disintegrate in the rain. Honest. It will stay there through rain and snow. It will be there for multiple seasons. And that’s if you’re using the cheap stuff. Tissues and baby wipes (actually a fabric) will last even longer. Years, even.

Picture of used toilet paper discarded among the leaves next to a trail. Used to illustrate the importance of packing out used toilet paper.

Please don't leave used toilet paper in the woods. It's unsightly and takes a very long time to degrade.

I don’t think most people really think they’re littering. They think of it like apple cores and orange peels (which is another post). But they are. And when I have to pee and go off down a path behind a nice tree, the last thing I want to see is little white tufts of TP from the last 15 women to hike this trail.

Picture of many tufts of used toilet paper discarded next to a trail Piney Creek Wilderness.

Someone left dozens of "uses" of used toilet paper just a foot from the trail.

Nobody says you have to hold it for the stinky potty at the trailhead. I don’t. I carry tissues in my pack. I squat behind a tree. And I put the damp tissue back in my pack (in a plastic bag) and put it in the garbage when I get home. Along with my gum wrapper and granola bar wrapper.

Now if we’re talking the more…um…solid waste, that’s a whole different story. Please tell me you’re not leaving piles of that are you? (Don’t answer that…someone is.) There are proper ways to deal with that, too. Use a shovel, make a hole, cover it up. I’ll write a post on that one someday, but in the meantime check out the following video. It has silly music, a puppet and runs for twelve and a half minutes, but it gives really great information.

 
So…did I change your mind? Will you carry out your TP in the future? Please do it.

Links: Center for outdoor ethics | Boy Scouts of America | The call of nature (video)

What do you think?