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When you gotta 'go' - dealing with emergency poo situations in the outdoors

Wednesday 8th July 2020, 3:45pm

Yes, it happens to us all, getting caught short away from toilet facilities.  

Below is some common sense advice to minimise the environmental and visual impact of your emergency poo.

  • Find an area well away from water courses, paths, summit areas and places where others might shelter (eg in the lee of large boulders, behind buildings etc).
  • Look for a depression in the ground or a place that is easy to dig out, with some nearby damp moss or other natural material to use as toilet paper.  
  • Further excavate the depression in the ground by scraping and kicking with your foot or use a stick/walking pole or similar object.  If deep soft moss is present, you can often create a good result simply by using your hands to lift it aside.   Any loose stones can also be moved by hand to deepen the depression.
  • Now use the depression to do your poo.  Damp moss makes the ideal substitute for toilet paper, indeed many find it even better than toilet paper.  
  • Place the used moss on top of the poo, which helps to start covering it up. 
  • If you have used toilet paper, wipes or tissues, you should take them with you in a plastic bag or container rather than burying them.
  • Cover the poo with the material you initially dug out of the depression.  Add to this by kicking and scraping more material from around the depression to create a thick layer of organic material over the waste.  Ideally use soil, moss, dead wet leaves, etc, whatever is available.  This will make it odour proof and help it to decompose. 
  • On top of this place stones, rocks or large branches so that dogs and other animals cannot get access and dig up the waste.  
  • Clean your hands with hand sanitiser or by washing thoroughly.

For more detailed information on toileting outdoors, read our Where to go leaflet.

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