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View Poll Results: Seriously, what is the most you willing to do to reduce pollution from human waste?

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  • Bag all solid and liquid waste in a biodegradable container, carry it to a proper facility.

    0 0%
  • Bag all solid waste in a biodegradable container, carry it to a proper facility.

    2 1.90%
  • Bag only paper in a container, carry it to a proper facility.

    8 7.62%
  • Dig a 6"+ hole and bury all solid waste.

    75 71.43%
  • Flick soil over tall solid waste.

    7 6.67%
  • Flick soil only over the paper.

    2 1.90%
  • Finish your business and get the hell out of Dodge.

    11 10.48%
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  1. #1
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    Leave No Trace. Really?

    When nature calls and there are no formal facilities within range, what to do? I mean, most municipalities require owners to pack out dog poop. In sheltered areas along highways, the issue is the same. How often have we pulled over at a spot that affords some privacy and been confronted by the leavings of others' - including paper?

    What about when stealth camping? Arrive late and leave early. Leave no trace. Really?

    So I have posted this poll to try to understand to what extent cycle tourists will continue / alter their behavior to save the planet. The choices range from those that can be selected only by the most seriously committed to those that will be picked by the most self centered.
    Last edited by Cyclesafe; 02-03-10 at 09:48 AM.

  2. #2
    Bike touring webrarian
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    While it may not be the "solid" waste you are asking about, I found on last year's ride along the TransAm route in Oregon that I saw discarded banana peals every day laying in the road's shoulder. They stopped as soon as I turned off that route. I had no doubt that these peals were from bike tourists and it really disappointed me.

    Bananas grow in the tropics. They are not designed to degrade on the highway in Oregon. They simply dry up, turn black, and sit there like a huge, dead spider. I suspect that these same bike riders would be appalled to see someone in a car throw something out the window as they drove by. I couldn't help wondering if these banana peels were left by "leave no trace" stealth campers!

    As for this poll, I've never stealth camped and don't believe I've had to deal with such waste outside "authorized" facilities.

    Ray
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  3. #3
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    I'll go #1 while stealth camping (provided I'm away from a water source), but I almost always hold off on #2 until I pass a toilet of some kind. I've only had to did a cat hole once in the couple months I've been out touring. Not from being eco-conscious, but just as a personal preference.

    As to your poll, I've read that buried waste biodegrades rapidly, so a month down the road, there isn't a real difference in the ecological impact between the first 4 choices.

    I've never come across someone's "leavings" but that would certainly tick me off!

  4. #4
    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclesafe View Post
    So I have posted this poll to try to understand to what extent cycle tourists will continue / alter their behavior to save the planet. The choices range from those that can be selected only by the most seriously committed to those that will be picked by the most self centered.
    What? Whether you cover your crap or not is not going to make an ounce of difference. They make you pick up dog doo, not to "save the planet," but so no one steps in it. What do the animals do with their "do?" If I have to "branch out" I do what the animals do—go where the humans don't. I sure as heck am not packing it up in a biodegradable container to add to a landfill. I do cover though. Sometimes.

    "self centered?" Fer cry'in out loud.
    None.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    It seems to me that an issue like this always depends upon the situation. To put it simply, I try to use as much discretion as the situation allows. It's just a matter of simple courtesy. If I think someone might step into it, I'll bury it or at least cover it up. If I think that it might be years before anyone goes where I went, I might not worry about it. I just don't believe there's any hard and fast rule, just try to be as courteous and respectful of property as you can. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and all that.
    P.S.: I throw my bananna peels off the side of the road.

  6. #6
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Pee and poop are part of natural ecosystem, they don't harm the environment. This is strictly done for neatness and courtesy for the next person. Now, non-human waste: packaging, etc., that's a whole different story. When hiking I always get away from the trail and dig a hole.

    Adam

  7. #7
    Senior Member CNY James's Avatar
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    leave no paper or plastic garbage. banana peels, apple cores, etc will biodegrade in all climates. dont believe me? set up a compost pile in your backyard... often times, they will be eaten by animals before they can biodegrade anyway.

  8. #8
    Bike touring webrarian
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    Quote Originally Posted by CNY James View Post
    banana peels, apple cores, etc will biodegrade in all climates. dont believe me? set up a compost pile in your backyard... often times, they will be eaten by animals before they can biodegrade anyway.
    Do you have any references to back up this statement? Here is one that directly contradicts it: http://www.thebmc.co.uk/News.aspx?id=3319

    A banana peel takes two years to biodegrade! That's according to keepbritaintidy.org.

    Trash is trash, even if you "believe" it is "biodegradable."

    Ray

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    Pee and poop are part of natural ecosystem, they don't harm the environment. This is strictly done for neatness and courtesy for the next person. Now, non-human waste: packaging, etc., that's a whole different story. When hiking I always get away from the trail and dig a hole.

    Adam
    Digging a cat hole helps prevent feces from being flushed into a water system and contaminating it with various pathogens. Depending on where you are it can be pretty important, that said it really depends where you are riding/doing your business.

    All my tours have had be in close enough contact to civilization that I can hold it for a proper facility. I do a lot of backcountry canoeing and hiking and if there isn't a drop toilet I make sure I am at least 50 meters away from the water system and I dig a cat hole and use biodegradable TP or some friendly foliage.

    For biking all my garbage stays with me until it can be disposed of correctly, mainly not the side of the road.

    While hiking in New Zealand I found that some secluded hikes you pack everything out, including your #2. There were lots of really interesting ways to deal with it, biodegradable boxes and bucket kind of dealies. If you really want to leave no trace, leave no trace.

  10. #10
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    Hmmmm millions and millions of animals poop on the ground every day..... what makes my poop any different?

    And how is a banana peel harming the enviroment? Is an animal going to eat it and die? LEAVES cantake over a year to decompose (http://www.ipcc.ie/leafmould.html ). I'd imaging that in a forest ecosystem, all the mulch, leaves, carcasses, fallen trees, and dead plants takes many many years to decompose into useable soil.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclesafe View Post
    When nature calls and there are no formal facilities within range, what to do? I mean, most municipalities require owners to pack out dog poop. In sheltered areas along highways, the issue is the same. How often have we pulled over at a spot that affords some privacy and been confronted by the leavings of others' - including paper?

    What about when stealth camping? Arrive late and leave early. Leave no trace. Really?

    So I have posted this poll to try to understand to what extent cycle tourists will continue / alter their behavior to save the planet. The choices range from those that can be selected only by the most seriously committed to those that will be picked by the most self centered.
    i am guessing that you haven't done a lot of extended backpacking because of the options you gave us. a really common thing that most people i know do is use some of that dry spongy moss stuff that peels off the tree easily as a means of wiping. no paper necessary.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by raybo View Post
    Do you have any references to back up this statement? Here is one that directly contradicts it: http://www.thebmc.co.uk/News.aspx?id=3319

    A banana peel takes two years to biodegrade! That's according to keepbritaintidy.org.

    Trash is trash, even if you "believe" it is "biodegradable."

    Ray

    Ray
    also, two years is not a big deal. get over yourself, ray ray.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by awesomejack View Post
    Hmmmm millions and millions of animals poop on the ground every day..... what makes my poop any different?
    It isn't. If your #2 is running into untreated water systems it causes issues. Just like when there are overpopulations of certain animals. A number of freshwater beaches here in Ontario are closed after heavy rainstorms because of large populations of migratory birds that occasionally stay in the areas (and have to because of suburban sprawl). When there is rain all of their feces gets flushed into the water and E Coli and other coliforms become exposed and can thrive. We have systems in place in the developed world to deal with our excrement, and if you are away from a toilet it would be beneficial to the ecosystems there to limit your impacts. And burying your #2 helps reduce that risk (or disposing of it somewhere safe) of pathogen exposure.

    I don't understand why everyone doesn't carry garbage/peels out with them. You are on a bike, you probably have a ton of extra weight from gadgets and toys for yourself, I'm sure a banana peel is going to break your back, I know it hasn't hurt me.

  14. #14
    Training Wheel Graduate twodeadpoets's Avatar
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    It depends on where I'm at, in more sensitive areas, I bag it
    "Ride Like an Orca!" ~tdp
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by vegenaise View Post
    also, two years is not a big deal. get over yourself, ray ray.
    So, in your world, if everyone just threw their fruit peels, vegetable trimmings, and other such "biodegradable" trash on the side of the road, everything would be just fine. Does this "not a big deal" ethic extend to thing like newspapers, paper bags, and other items or just the kinds of things you want to throw away and deem "not a big deal?"

    Sounds like a nice place.

    Ray Ray
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by raybo View Post
    So, in your world, if everyone just threw their fruit peels, vegetable trimmings, and other such "biodegradable" trash on the side of the road, everything would be just fine. Does this "not a big deal" ethic extend to thing like newspapers, paper bags, and other items or just the kinds of things you want to throw away and deem "not a big deal?"

    Sounds like a nice place.

    Ray Ray
    don't put words in my mouth. i didn't say anything about what my world would be like. you couldn't touch my "green-ness" with a 10 foot clown pole.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    Funny how every winter about this time there seems to be a lot of hostility on the forums. Can anyone say cabin fever?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by vegenaise View Post
    don't put words in my mouth. i didn't say anything about what my world would be like. you couldn't touch my "green-ness" with a 10 foot clown pole.
    So, in your own words, what do you and don't you throw off your bike when you are touring?

    Ray Ray
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  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Cyclesafe ... you sound like a city boy. Have you ever been on a farm?

    I live on 1200 acres of orchard and pasture. The pasture is populated mainly by cows. Cows .... plop. Everywhere. They don't bury it, treat it, carry it out etc. It just sits there in the field and on the track we call a road to get in and out of here. There are also wombats, kangaroos, wallabies, foxes, and possums in this area ... and birds of all sorts. And they all leave their droppings all over the place out here. And nature deals with it all.

    Now, as a human, our droppings can have different sorts of bacteria etc. in them which we really don't want in our water system. So if we're out in the middle of nowhere, it is a good idea to look around to see where a water system (i.e. stream) might be located, and to choose a spot some distance away from that water system. And rather than just leaving our droppings sitting on top of the ground where they could wash into the water system when it rains, it is a good idea to dig a hole and bury them so that nature can deal with them.

    As for our liquid "deposits", it may come as a surprise to some, but urine is sterile (unless you've got some sort of disease) ... it is very clean, so clean we could drink it if we were in an emergency situation (i.e. miners trapped in a mine with no water). Also, the urine of a human is much the same as that of a cow, wombat, kangaroo, wallaby, fox, possum, etc., etc. who are urinating on a regular basis all over the pasture I live on. Animals of all sorts urinate all over the world. Urine is about 95% water and 5% solids including things like urea, creatinin, ammonia, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chlorides, sulfates, phosphates. It begins to decompose in about 30 minutes, and there are a number of findings that indicate that human urine can be used as a fertilizer for plants. So I have no problem at all with the idea of squatting in a convenient ditch to do my liquid business ... without burying it, and of course, without paper.


    But the part I'm most curious about is what you think a "proper facility" might be.


    As for litter ....... I carry it with me until I find an official rubbish container. I hate seeing rubbish in the ditches.

    I'm also getting more particular about carrying, rather than tossing, fruit and vegetable matter ... NOT because of the 'biodegradable or not' debate (fruit and vegetable matter is biodegradable (even banana peels), and if I tossed it, it would be no different than the composting we're thinking of setting up here). But living in Australia, where they like to keep a control on the types of plants and animals that grow here, and especially living on an orchard, has made me aware that the people who produce our food (i.e. orchard growers) don't necessarily appreciate having other fruit and vegetable matter introduced into the area.

    When it comes to grapes for wine, for example, there are large signs up everywhere saying that it is an offense to bring grape and grape material into certain areas near where I live. I'm not sure if that would necessarily apply to table grapes, but I'm not about to stop and eat a bunch of table grapes in those areas, and spit the pits out and drop the stems.

    It's a good idea to be aware of what's around us when we ride and when we tour.


    And as for saving the planet ... I don't tour to save the planet.

  20. #20
    Senior Member CNY James's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raybo View Post
    Do you have any references to back up this statement? Here is one that directly contradicts it: http://www.thebmc.co.uk/News.aspx?id=3319

    A banana peel takes two years to biodegrade! That's according to keepbritaintidy.org.

    Trash is trash, even if you "believe" it is "biodegradable."

    Ray

    Ray
    I can refer to my compost pile, where i dispose of many non-meat food related goods - from seeds to cores to peels to egg shells... the stuff breaks down. never came across any leftover banana peels when spreading compost into my garden. and not for a lack of bananas, we nearly always have them in the house.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thisisit View Post
    I don't understand why everyone doesn't carry garbage/peels out with them. You are on a bike, you probably have a ton of extra weight from gadgets and toys for yourself, I'm sure a banana peel is going to break your back, I know it hasn't hurt me.
    Banana peels are mushy. If you shove it into a pocket you will get banana mush all over that pocket (also a great way to attract bears). If you put the banana peel into a plastic bag, it means bringing an extra bag and throwing away extra garbage. That banana peel thrown in the garbage then has to be trucked to a landfill. If you throw it into the bushes, it turns back into dirt. What I don't like are cyclists that drop banana peels Mario Kart style in the middle of the shoulder.

  22. #22
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    Ah - -

    You see, you live in California and I live in Wyoming. In areas of extremely low population and low use - human waste is not as great of an issue. Of course, in Yellowstone and Grand Teton - given the short season and the number of tourists - it can be. Rafters have a greater obligation since river travel concentrates usage of the shoreline - especially popular camping spots. But I frequent remote places that may not have more than a handful of human users all season.

    If I am in a remote location and off trail - I will only slightly cover feces in order to accelerate decomposition. Otherwise, I use the cathole method. I frequently bike in remote locations - so I am perfectly comfortable with these techniques. But when I am in areas with denser use - I try to follow managing agency guidelines. Many times, that means making use of an outhouse along my itinerary - although, to be perfectly honest, I much prefer to go au naturel than to be sitting in a smelly outhouse.

    I do not think that I would choose any activity that would require me to transport wastes out - since I believe that it crosses the threshold to overkill. Either those locations are too heavily used for me to enjoy - or the management is excessive.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    In order to get a permit to climb most major and popular mountains in the PNW you are required or asked to use the "blue bag" method of feces disposal. if you bring it, pack it out. The bags are often provided and are usually durable double zip locks. Not a big deal, just don't leave the filled bags in the sun-- they produce gas!

    I understand this on mountains where most of the people are congragated along very constrained route. Also things last longer on glaciers and snow. The Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) teaches a class called "Leave No Trace", and its concepts are practiced by many climbers and wilderness users. On bike tours I think it is just common sense and courtesy to leave a place much the way I find it. It helps the next poor cyclist who asks to camp on a person's land if it was left clean by the folks that camped there earlier.

  24. #24
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    ask to camp on someones land? i camp in the forest. typically not where another person will go for quite some time.

  25. #25
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    I just threw a banana peel out in my backyard.

    I'll dig this thread up in two years.

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