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campTrashy Tips For Kayak Campers by Tom Holtey
How Kayakers should pack supplies and trash for low impact wilderness use

We learn trash disposal at a young age, and as adults do not give it much thought. A few tricks of the trade can help campers carry lighter loads, reduce litter, and make "carry in - carry out" a pleasant task.

When in civilization, we have behaviors and facilities that enable us to conveniently manage our refuse. It is necessary to relearn these principles to enhance our enjoyment of the outdoors and to protect the natural setting in witch we recreate. Fortunately it is easy to do and makes good common sense.

1. When shopping for your supplies, (food & other items for camping and picnicking.) purchase freezer zip lock bags. The freezer kind are the best, trust me, you want the best. For a camping trip get at least one box of every size.

Why all the zip lock bags? They are waterproof, and each meal and source of trash has its own "trash bag." Every time you prepare a meal or eat a snack you have an instant refuse container to put your trash into. As breakfast is being made the packing, instructions, or even wasted food scraps can be placed into and sealed shut in a zip lock bag. As extra bags become available then you can even double bag. You will find that this system works so well that you won't think twice about carrying the "trash" in your kayak, dry bag or backpack. This is also why you want to get the freezer kind of zip lock. A few small trash bags are easier to pack and distribute then one big garbage can bag.

DO NOT use large garbage can style trash bags for trash. They are too big, tear easy and have better uses for outdoors people, such as emergency raincoats and dry bag liners. Yes, bring along a couple Large bags, but don't use them for trash.

After - Pack & Label

2. At home, before your trip, strip off all extraneous packaging of your foodstuffs and other supplies. If you bought a box cookies then take them out of the box and put them into a zip lock. If you are repackaging a meal with instructions, clip them and slip the instructions into the zip lock bag containing that meal. Remove any dead weight. Cardboard boxes and cellophane bags are the worst offenders. You may want to keep some meals in their original sealed packages for freshness and extra waterproof protection. Just strip off any of the over wrap. Label each bag for convenient identification. You can the put the components of each meal in a larger zip lock bag and label it as "breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, etc. Make a "snack pack" for each person for each day, also in its own zip lock bag.

3. Burning trash will not work! Any metallic item, even shiny ink, will not really burn. Burning plastic creates toxic smoke and will not always burn completely. Camp fires are rarely hot enough to even burn paper effectively. Food scraps, burnt or scattered, will only habituate animals (chipmunks, bears, etc...) to eating human foodstuffs at campsites, and when they can't get it for free they will steal it from your supplies and do a lot of damage in the process.

These trash management techniques will help you to manage your refuse easily. Every member in your group will be encouraged to carry out their own share, each in his or her kayak, canoe or pack. You will keep food scraps from wild animals, big and small.

A clean, pristine campsite, beach, trail or picnic spot will be the result, enhancing the experience for others following you and yourself when you revisit next time. Also on the drive home the small bags are easier, and less suspicious, to slip into gas station and convenient store trash cans.



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