In other words, pees, poos and for us ladies, periods.
Being outside is amazing, the sense of freedom and being at one with nature. But at the same time the nature of our bodies may not allow us to enjoy the experience to the full, instead it can become very stressful. At the end of the day, we all have the same bodies, with the same functions, some more pleasant than others. I have been dealing with my own bodily functions, in the outdoors, since I was 16. Here are my do’s and don’ts.
First things first, ‘leave no trace’, the hard and fast rule of being in the outdoors, and something that I always adhere to. It is not difficult, just requires a little bit of thought and pre-planning. So, how do you dispose of your human waste properly?
The easiest of the three, pee:
For me it is a simple case of finding some cover (or not if there is no one around) squatting down, doing a pee, a quick shake and up. All over in about 10 seconds. Men, you have it even easier. However, I realise that not everyone is as comfortable as myself with this act. So, here are a few top tips, the first one being for both males and females:
1. Where? Well, NOT in the middle of a path, NOT in a confined space, NOT at the base of a rock climb and NOT on a campsite. Somewhere that will:
- Cover your modesty if other people are around, behind a bush, tree or big rock, alternatively, and something I have done often, just ask your adventure buddies to turn around and look the other way.
- watch out for ground cover that will cause ‘splash back’, hard surfaces and leaves being the worst culprits.
- If on an incline, pee downhill – peeing uphill will ensure the ensuing trickle of pee finds one or both of your feet.
- Watch out for stinging nettles lurking in the undergrowth and other prickly plants.
- Never pee against the wind – enough said!
2. Get your clothes out of the way, this does not mean pulling them down round your ankles, this gives you little freedom of movement and increases the chances of your entire flow landing on them. I find that the optimum position is just above your knees.
3. Squat: A good deep/low squat. You achieve this by standing with your feet just over hip width apart, making sure you are balanced and then squatting right down. No hovering down, that is much harder on your thigh muscles and is also not the best position for a complete emptying of your bladder.
4. Shake: I am a big advocate of a good shake and a couple of second air dry before pulling everything up. It is by far the easiest and doesn’t require you to carry anything with you. However, if you absolutely have to use toilet paper then give yourself a wipe but do not then leave the toilet paper on the ground, put it into the handy little bag you have with you and carry it home.
OK so here is the deal, much the same as a pee, but with a few additional simple rules:
1. Dig a hole, no surface laying please. The hole should be 200m from any water source, so as to not contaminate it, and deep enough to contain all of your poo.
2. Wipe: For this you could use a leaf or some moss, although be careful that little mossy deposits are not left behind that will rub and generally make you very sore. Alternatively, use some toilet paper, sparingly. Again, put this in the bag you are carrying and take it away with you.
3. Fill in the hole and cover.
4. A squirt from a handy wee bottle of hand sanitiser and you are good to go.
For me, the main rule of thumb is be prepared, I am not regular and can often be taken by surprise. There is nothing worse than being in the middle of nowhere, starting your period and having nothing to help you deal with its appearance – literally nothing worse. I use a mooncup, a complete revelation for me, something that has utterly transformed my life outdoors. A mooncup for those of you who do not know, is a simple reusable silicone cup, that can be emptied and put back in. There is no waste, it is environmentally friendly and leaves you with nothing to carry out. Just take care when emptying, use your common sense.
If you use tampons or towels, treat these the same as toilet paper, put them in a bag and carry them home with you.