I’ve been a full-time camper for three decades, and it’s frustrating to see that many campers aren’t responsible for their waste disposal.
I don’t know whether it’s out of ignorance or lack of know-how. But today, I’ll indulge you in the proper waste compost disposal, specifically how to dump your compost when camping.
The best way to dispose of your camping compose is to pack them in sealable plastic bags and dump them in campground dumpsters, solid waste bins, home toilets, or dumping solid waste stations.
Of course, that’s not the only way. There’re other dumping methods. We shall look at them in detail later.
What you need to remember is that waste disposal is more than getting rid of the unsightly trash, but it also has to do with flora and fauna.
Plus, it’s hygienic and a good way to avoid bacterial contamination and infections.
Now, without further ado, let’s look at where to dump your compost.
1) Packing Poop
Packing solid human waste and other trash is probably the among the highly-rated environmental solutions and one that pleases all the campground and land managers.
See, we often do lots of group trips, and packing our shit, which is often required anyway, has saved us from getting into trouble while keeping the environment safe.
There are many situations where you may want to pack your waste from the national park/campground and dump it elsewhere in a safer place.
For my family, we choose this method because we do a lot of cross-country road trips and don’t like using the public restrooms, especially with the COVD thing and everything.
So, we usually carry specific human waste bags, also known as wag bags, for camping.
The wag bags are simply waterproof and sealable bags that allow you to take and carry your shit for safe disposal.
We use the Sani Bag from Cleanwaste Wag Bags, which works great. I love how they turn our runny mess into a solid waste hunk that I can completely seal for disposal.
Plus, the bag has a double seal, so I don’t have to worry about the liquid dripping or the smell.
However, you mustn’t fill the wag bag too much. Otherwise, you won’t manage to zip the zip lock resulting in a bad experience.
Once the bag is sealed, I simply plop the waste into the solid waste bin or toilet and flush it.
Packing your waste, whether human poop, dog mess, disposable diapers, or any other waste, in a bag and carrying it for disposal is, in my opinion, the most fool-proof way of maintaining the environment.
It’s also an ultra-safe method and won’t expose you or other backpackers to bacterial infections.
2) Composting Toilets for RVs
If the wag bags/ dog poop bags aren’t an option, you might consider my next method; the composting toilets.
The composting toilets, also known as dry toilets, are a great option for campers RVing.
And the truth of the matter is RVs aren’t generally considered the most environmentally-sensitive road vehicles.
However, a composting toilet offers a nice way to lessen the environmental impact. Plus, it is a great way to keep your living space hygienic and free from unpleasant odors.
If you’re uninitiated to camping toilets, they’re simply what they sound like.
The toilets are simply composting pits that manage your waste.
A typical composting toilet for RVs is cleverly engineered to separate solids from liquids. It keeps your urine separate from human waste.
In addition, a compost toilet has a fan, ensuring proper airflow over the poop. The air does away with the moisture and quickly dries it to eliminate moisture.
The airflow is also helpful in redirecting the airflow away from the inside cabin to the outside.
Composting toilets also have a pre-built mechanism that stirs up the solids and peat-moss, which helps further dry your solid human waste and faster composting into a complete compost pile.
Benefits of a Composting Toilet
I’ve a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet in my Airstream Classic Smart Trailer, which has served my family’s needs quite well.
It’s probably the best upgrade I’ve made on my trailer.
It’s easy to use, and cleanup is a breeze.
If you follow instructions, you won’t have to deal with overflowing liquid waste or smells.
An advantage of the Nature Composting toilet is its “all-inclusive” solution. It holds waste properly, doesn’t give off an odor, and eliminates the “bucket” toilet issues, including the creation of raw sewage.
One of the other draws of a composting toilet is that you never have to worry about where you’ll next pump out the composting toilet waste.
No need to bring chemicals or even carry water to treat or lush the solid waste.
Challenges of a Composting Toilet
Of course, there’re a couple of challenges to bringing a composting toilet to your RV.
The main one is installation.
You must consider your space considerations. If your RV doesn’t provide wide real estate, you must pick a smaller composting toilet that won’t gobble much space or obstructs your way.
You’ll also need to have adequate space for emptying the finishing drawer.
Space aside, price is also a huge factor.
Most composting toilets aren’t cheap, with most running upwards of $100.
Finally, power is an issue, especially if you’re boondocking. Remember, the composting toilets must run the fan to dry out the moisture.
Therefore, you need a continual supply of power to run the toilet.
Purchasing a Composting Toilet
If you’re considering purchasing a composting toilet for camping, you must pick a model specifically designed for applications involved in movements.
Ideally, I’d recommend a composting toilet specifically for RVs/Vehicles or marine.
Composting pits built for travel differ from the fixed/regular toilets used at home.
The travel options have features that ensure your waste stays within the drum during sharp turns and rough roads.
Plus, they come with special gaskets that prevent the toilet from leaking. Some of the premium models even include rotating drums that ensure the toilet always stays upright.
If you choose a composting pit from brands specializing in travel toilets, such as Sun-Mar corporation, or Nature Head, you may also benefit from other unique benefits.
For example, my Nature Head pit has numerous space-saving measures, but my favorite is the folding rests.
Overall, provided your composting pit can fit in your RV and is sized for the number of users, it’s an awesome alternative to the traditional portable RV toilets.
It also offers an incredible way to properly dispose of your composting toilet waste while keeping the environment safe.
One thing to keep in mind is composting toilets won’t truly compose your waste.
Their branding is a bit misleading because they won’t compose your waste unless you want to leave the waste for a few months.
Composting human waste takes quite a while.
2) Burying Poop/ Cat Holes
Digging cat holes to bury my waste is the most widely accepted method but my least favorite method. It’s not environmentally conscious compared to the previous methods.
I know, digging a hole and putting your crap inside sounds much smoother than carrying your shit around or investing in a composting pit.
But here’s the thing.
Some ecosystems are fragile.
There’re locations where the topsoil is only a few mm thick, while others have permafrost below the surface.
In a desert ecosystem, your waste is unlike to compose fast enough.
Some locations, such as the Canyons and alpine environments like Mt Rainer, have limited camping space. If every camper decides to dig cat holes there, the entire space will start to smell like a toilet and create a health hazard.
Plus, if there’re flush floods, the trash and waste get scoured, and finally, end up in our water system.
In short, burying human poop will depend on your specific ecosystem and should only be done if the jurisdiction and federal regulations allow it.
Now, we’ve some campers argue that burying human waste is bad for the environment.
But when you compare human waste and some of the other animals, such as dogs, you’ll realize our poo is relatively “cleaner.”
Dogs, jackals, and other animals eat all kinds of shitload, and their poop contains more bacterial load and greater environmental impact than humans.
So, whenever I feel I can’t hold my poop onto the next toilet, I simply dig a cat hole and bury my stuff.
The ideal cat hole should be at least 75 inches deep. The soil covering provides enough barrier and aids in the faster decomposition of your poop.
Plus, the barrier is sufficient to withhold and not draw scavengers and other animals to the scent.
And if you’re an environmentalist, and feeling guilty about it, consider a human waste kit.
I use the PACT Outdoors, which helps with the environmental impact of poop.
The kit uses mycelium/oyster mushroom to help break your solid waste and toilet paper faster.
These buggers will gobble up almost anything without leaving a trail or affecting the environment.
While the fungus isn’t a substitute for packing out your shit, it limits the environmental impact of cat holes.
But I continue to reiterate that you should only dig cat holes in jurisdictions that allow it.
Locations without heavy usage and with a climate promoting faster composting are ideal.
Find an inconspicuous site that other campers are less likely to use or locate cat holes. With time, your poop and toilet paper will likely be bio-degraded before the other camper finds it.
3) Dumping Greywater
Dumping gray water is probably the easiest waste to manage.
No need for fancy equipment, solutions, chemicals, or products.
You simply dump it on the ground.
Yes, it feels guilty doing so, but grey water doesn’t contaminate the ground. After all, people use grey water to irrigate their gardens.
However, there’re several best practices for dumping grey water.
First, you should only use biodegradable soap on your grey water. Ensure the water doesn’t contain any pollutants or contaminants that may destroy the soil.
Next, ensure you strain all the solid waste.
Straining is particularly important if you live in a bear country.
If possible, I suggest you dig a hole or find an outhouse or toilet where you can dump the grey water to avoid attracting the wild animals.
Your composting bin hole should also be far away from your campsite. But more importantly, away from the water source to avoid seeping.
4) Bring Jars
Jars are also a great way to dispose of your composting waste, especially the veggies and cooking waste. A urine bottle is also great for dumping urine.
I usually bring a couple of jars, which I use to store all the cooking meal wastes, leftovers, composting material, and organic material.
The jars have also been handy in disposing of the coffee beans waste.
I love brewing coffee, but the cleanup is the least favorite part of the process.
The jars have been quite handy with solid waste disposal, and it can’t get more convenient than this.
However, you must leave the glass jars home when heading for the wild. I know they’re super attractive, but if they break, the invisible shards can spell disaster to animals and other campers.
5) Other Methods
If you’re a traditional camper, you could burn trash that we can burn.
The paper and cardboard trash are particularly great for kindling fire.
However, you must exercise caution not to cause a fire.
If you’ve trash like cans and other miscellaneous items that we can’t burn, you need to round and group them in a trash bag for later disposal.
We usually find a tree outside our campground, loop a rope and attach the trash bag.
You must keep the trash bag away from your campsite because it’s likely to attract insects and other animals.
Suspending the double bag on the tree is also crucial for keeping it from animals.
When our camping trip is over, we simply throw the trash bag at the back of our truck and dump it at home.
But in most cases, campgrounds have a composting bin or dumpster facilities, so we don’t have to carry the waste with us.
Is It Safe to Dump Composting Toilet Solid Waste on the Ground?
No, it’s not safe to dump the composting toilet waste on the ground. Human waste takes quite a long time to fully compose.
So, dumping urine and human waste on the ground simply means dumping thousands of infectious and disease-causing bacteria on the ground.
With time, the bacteria may even leach, leading to groundwater contamination.
Dumping Camp Waste Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Where can I dump my portable toilet?
A: Find a local RV dumping station. Fortunately, many national parks & campgrounds have dumping solid waste station/ composting bin to empty all your waste.
Q: Can I empty a camping toilet at home?
A: If there’re no local RV stations around, you can empty your composting toilet contents in your home toilet. Simply flush all the content down.
Dumping composting solid waste isn’t a challenge.
There’re numerous environmental-conscious and hygienic ways to dispose of your different waste.
We’ve discussed the methods above; hopefully, they’ll come in handy in different jurisdictions.