Whether you’re out for a day hike or a week-long backpacking trip, you should carry out all of your trash with you, from candy wrappers to banana peels, toilet paper, baby wipes, and leftover food. If left behind, some of these could take hundreds of years to decompose, remaining on the landscape for generations. Bars are an awesome trail treat, but do you want your great-great-great-great- grandchild to find the wrapper of one when they’re out hiking?
We often have a designated ziplock “trash bag” that we put everything but used toilet paper into. If you’re backpacking and eating freeze dried meals, a hack is to repurpose the bag from your first night’s dinner as your trash bag. Of course used toilet paper can go in the same bag as other trash; because it’s so smelly we like putting it in its own ziplock, though … and then putting that ziplock in another ziplock.
If you’re in a campground with bear boxes and bathrooms, please don’t use these as trash cans. “It’s not uncommon for campers to bag all their garbage, but then leave it in the toilets or bear box,” says the recreation management specialist of the BTNF’s Pinedale Ranger District. “If you brought it in, you have room to take it out.”
Wondering what trash is OK to leave behind? Check out this video from the Center for Outdoor Ethics.