Activity Plan 2 for Dispose of Waste Properly
Exploring Disposal of Human Waste
This activity should take approximately 30 to 45 minutes.
What Your Group Will Learn
After participating in this activity plan, which is designed to help
participants learn about backcountry waste disposal, participants will be able
- Describe why catholes are a good way to dispose of human feces.
- Select an
appropriate cathole site.
- Dig a cathole of the proper dimension.
will explore the effects of improper disposal of human waste and ways to
properly dispose of human waste.
Materials and Preparation
- Jar of soil
- Jar of decaying grass, leaves, etc.
- Toilet paper
- Small rocks for paperweights
- Information sheet "Catholes: Proper Disposal of Human Waste"
garden trowel (preferably one for every two participants)
- Optional: box of sand
at least 8 to 10 inches deep
- Read the entire activity plan and the
Background on the Principles of Leave No Trace thoroughly.
- Copy the information
sheet "Catholes: Proper Disposal of Human Waste," one for each
- At least two weeks prior to your meeting, place small amounts of
soil, decaying leaves, or grass clippings in a jar. Warning: Do not tightly seal
the jar. Gases created during decomposition could cause a sealed jar to explode.
Grabbing Your Group's Attention (5 minutes)
Bring in your two jars, one
containing just mineral soil and the other containing humus-organic soil and
decaying leaves, or grass clippings. Allow the participants to look at the jars.
Discuss what the jars demonstrate about the natural process of decomposition.
Explain that although this process can take days, weeks, months, or even years,
organic materials such as food, leaves, grass clippings, and feces eventually
decompose into the soil. Explain that the concept of decomposition will be
explored again later in the activity.
|Note: It is possible to conduct this
activity without using the jar of decaying material. If necessary, the
activity can begin with the next step.
Next, ask the group members if they would
use their yard as a bathroom. Why or why not? The following activity will help
answer those questions.
Steps for Teaching the Activity (20 minutes)
Distribute toilet paper and have participants tear it into individual
squares. If you conduct this activity outdoors, also distribute small rocks for
paperweights. Have the participants scatter their pieces of paper around the
area in which they are gathered, making sure the paper is visible. Have them
stand back and view the area. Tell the participants that each piece of paper
represents used toilet paper or the deposit of human waste along a trail on the
perimeter of a campsite.
A thorough reading of the Background on the Principles
of Leave No Trace will help facilitate the following discussion.
participants the following: What is your reaction to this scene and why? What
can people do to dispose of their toilet paper and human waste in a less visible
and more sanitary manner? Participants should understand that they should pack
out toilet paper and human waste or bury it in a cathole.
the group that digging a cathole is one way of properly disposing of human
waste. Distribute and discuss the information sheet "Catholes: Proper at the end of this activity plan. Practice digging
|Note: Before conducting this activity,
find a spot for digging that will not be harmed, such as a sandbox, sand
play lot, or a box of sand 12 inches deep.
- Have one group member demonstrate digging a cathole using a garden
trowel while others watch.
- Have participants break into pairs to practice
digging a cathole.
Ask participants: What if a garden trowel isn't available?
What other tools could you use to dig a cathole? Brainstorm other ways to dig a
hole. Use a rock, a stick, or a boot heel. Practice using these tools to dig a
hole. Are they effective? Why or why not? Always carry a trowel.
There are other ways to get rid of toilet paper without burying it or
leaving it in the backcountry. Have group members create a plan for how their
group will dispose of toilet paper in the backcountry. Burning it with a lighter
right after use is not an option; this could cause a fire, and the paper rarely
burns completely. One option is to deposit the toilet paper in a small sealable
plastic bag and pack it out with the other camp garbage. A small disposal sponge
soaked with ammonia helps reduce the smell. Some areas may require that all
feces and toilet paper be packed out. Always check with the land management
agency if there is a question. Refer to the Background on the Principles of
Leave No Trace for details.
Wrapping Up the Activity (10 minutes)
What is human
waste and how do we usually dispose of it? In the backcountry, it's not so easy.
We need to be prepared to dispose of it each day using the techniques we've
talked about. Disposal of human waste is a challenge for outdoor visitors—and
it can be a personal and sensitive matter—but it is important. How well has
your group learned to properly dispose of human waste?
Have group members
brainstorm why proper disposal of human waste in the backcountry is important.
The leader should add ideas from the Background on the Principles of Leave No
Trace not mentioned by the group. Discussion should center around decomposition,
pollution of water sources, spread of disease, disruption of wildlife, and
negative implications of someone finding human waste.
Congratulations on conducting a well-prepared meeting for your group!