Managing Your Trash on the Go from Trail to Camp

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Managing your trash is an essential part of camping. Improperly handled trash not only is unhygienic but also attracts unwanted attention of wildlife which can be dangerous. Bear attacks due to miss-managed garbage is not very uncommon. So, it is essential for every camper to know how to store trash while backpacking.

For managing trash, keep in mind not to take anything unnecessary in the first place. Try to minimize the garbage as much as possible. Using freezer-quality zip lock bags, using reusable camp dishes and cookware is essential to manage or store trash. Be sure to use separate sealable and water-tight bags for wet waste.

However, remember that not every type of trash can be stored in the same way. You have to use different methods to keep food trash, manage human waste, and dispose of or store any other junk in your camp.

This article will help you understand what to do with the trash when camping. I have also discussed some tips for minimizing waste to assist you in this regard.

How to Store and Dispose of Food Trash while Camping?

Using odor-proof bags, washing packages before throwing them away from the campsite are some of the tips for managing food trash. Also, be sure to take only the amount of food you will eat to reduce food trash.

Everyone eating together sitting by the side of the campfire sounds fun, right? But, don’t forget to store the trash. Here are a few tips for you to store and dispose of food trash-

Never Bury Your Garbage

The first idea that might come to your mind with food trash is burying them. But, trust me, that’s a bad idea. You won’t like it if your food waste causes any harm to the wild animals.

Animals can smell foods from a long distance. Even if you bury them on the ground, they will be able to find it and dig it out. It is no rocket science that human foods can be harmful to animals.

Also, if animals dig out the food wastes, the environment will be nasty. So, don’t bury food junk.

Eliminate Unnecessary Food Packaging

Don’t bring foods in the camps that are unnecessary and can cause more trash, for most foods you can de-package it well before heading out lowering your carry weight.

For most hikers and overnight backpackers you want to package food in ziplock bags after broken down to give you a simple clean and carry out with your after you eat or stay the night.

Bringing unnecessary foods will only add to more food trash. You will get in trouble while recycling them as you can’t just throw them out anywhere.

Use Odor-Proof Bags

The main problem with food trash is it will almost always entice animals into your camp area. So, if you keep them in ordinary trash bags, it might cause a problem by bringing in mice, and even bigger animals like bears.

Using an odor-proof bag is the best solution to these issues. The odor-proof bags are of various sizes. Consider using big-size bags so that you can use one or two to carry all the trash.

In addition, try your best not to cook foods near camp areas that produce attractive scents. It will create highly scented food waste and can cause a problem even if you use odor-proof bags.

Use Ziploc Freezer Bags

Ziplock freezer bags are great. Not only can you use them to pack your leftovers, but also you can reuse the bags for storing food trash.

As there is a zip lock, so the chance of leaking is less. You won’t like it if the smelly spoiled food trash spreads all over your camping bag.

How to Deal with Human Waste when Camping?

What happens when the inevitable eventually happens, when you aren’t able to hike any longer and there is no potty available to use for the restroom?

Dealing with human waste is easier than managing other trash. First of all, you have to find a proper place away from the camping area to create your toilet space. You will need to dig a hole at least 6 inches deep in the ground for going number 2. Also, be sure not to throw the wipes or toilet papers here and there.

Going Number 1

Urine generally doesn’t do any harm to the environment. But the smell can be a problem. So, be sure to urinate to a distant place from the camping spot.

Also, choose a place that doesn’t have any water sources or trails near. Ladies can buy a funnel and bring it while camping, not to have to worry much about peeing either.

Going Number 2

If you have to go #2, first dig a 6-inch hole in the place you all decided to use as a toilet. After you are done, bury your waste.

Additionally, you would want to put leaves over it and keep the site as it was before. Also, keep a stick over your buried waste so that others may know they have to avoid the area.

But if you are in an area where you can’t use a hole for pooping, then you have to carry it with the rest of your waste until you find a place for disposal.

Managing wipes or toilet paper

You have to put your wipes in a sealable bag to dispose of them with the rest of your trash. Never throw your wipes here and there or bury them in the hole.

Not even if you are using a biodegradable one. Also, ewwww, don’t try to burn them either as it is gross, a health hazard, and it might cause a wildfire.

What to Do with Other Trash on a Camp?

Rather than just food trash and human waste, you have to deal with much other junk while camping. Trash like used wrappers or containers, dishwashers, used toothpaste, or other hygiene products should be stored in trash bags with other waste.

The following are few tips on what to with other trash while camping-

  • Use a biodegradable dishwasher and soap.
  • Disperse the dishwater in a large area. Make sure there are no large food scraps.
  • Dispose of used toothpaste in a sealed container or zip lock bag.
  • Brush your teeth away from trails or any water sources.
  • Use separate bags for dry and wet garbage.

You won’t like to go on a dirty and nasty camping site with trash all over the place. Thus, don’t make the place dirty yourself. It is harmful to the environment as well as your hygiene.

Leave the site as it was before or even better. Store all your trash properly and throw it when you find any dustbin or a place where you can dispose of the garbage.

How to Minimize the Trash While Camping?

You have to plan the trip ahead of time, choose a simple menu, and carry reusable items to minimize waste. Using environment-friendly detergent and personal hygiene products is also necessary to ensure minimal waste production.

The first step for keeping the camp clean and storing trash is minimizing trash production as much as possible. Let me share with you a few tips to mitigate trash while camping-

  • Reduce packaging to a feasible extent.
  • Don’t use plastic water bottles or plastic utensils in your camp.
  • Consider using reusable utensils.
  • Reuse containers, for example- ice bags or snack containers as a trash bin.
  • Keep simple food on the menu.
  • Prepare and pack some foods from home.
  • Use environment-friendly personal hygiene items.
  • Try to use cloth napkins instead of paper towels.
  • When making a campfire, let the woods burn entirely to ash.

If you follow the above tips, then the trash will be lesser. As a result, managing the garbage will be a lot easier for you.


Keeping camping places clean is a must for your protection and for the sake of the environment as well. By now, you’ve figured out how to store trash while backpacking.

So, be sure to follow the rules. Ask your fellow campmates to manage their junk too. As you are now ready for camping, go and have fun.

Good luck, and thanks for reading till the end.

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