Burn the trash? What do you do?

Joined
Jul 25, 2012
Messages
838
In the past I've packed out all my garbage except for paper things, which I burned. Of course no one wants to find melted plastic and food clotted aluminum foil in the fire pit. Recently while testing out my new Littlbug sn stove at home, I tried a experiment; I cut up some used Mountain House food bags and burned them in the stove. The bags seem to be made from some plastic/foil combination. I had absolutely no problem with the burning and when it was all over I dumped out the ashes and all I could find was a little crumpled aluminum, the three bags worth. I mashed that together and was left with a chunk about the size of a fifty cent piece.
Those Mountain Houses meals make up most of my pack out garbage load. What do you think: is it bad to burn the trash (I'm talking completely here) or would it be o.k. ? I bumped into a Leave No Trace fan not long ago and came away with the impression it would be best if I held my breath and hovered the whole time I was in the woods.
What do you think?

Best Wishes, Rob
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
596
Location
Aberdeen, MD
i burn most of my trash (plastic and paper), and try to stay away from foil... oatmeal for breakfast (waxed paper or plastic sandwich bag), mixed snacky stuff for lunch (candy wrappers, string cheese wrapper, and a raisin box), and a freezer bag dinner (or a hawkvittle!), tea bag (paper) after dinner, and maybe some s'mores (again, paper and some plastic wrappers)... i think the only foil i have is hot cocoa packets. those, if burned in a hot enough fire, pretty much disintegrate... i don't lose sleep over them. i will pick through my ashes though, and make sure i didn't leave any plastic globs or foil. i usually have a small ziplock full of some sort of trash, but i try to burn it daily, in the evening fire (or next night, if i don't make one on a given night).

i am more irritated by the innumerable bits of twine, bag closures, and the nails i find in trees than in a bit of foil in a fire pit.

beer cans are my worst peeve.
 
Joined
Feb 22, 2012
Messages
287
Location
Rochester, NY
Like others, I burn most of my trash when I have a fire. I try to wait until I have one which is real hot to minimize the release of toxins. The more it smolders; the less efficient of a burn the more toxins are released. Even burning paper can release dioxins. Until society begins using plasma converters for waste management, I figure our environmental impact from individual incineration will basically be the same as the large scale incinerators and landfills.
 
W

Willis

Guest
I rarely have a fire so I just pack my trash out. It goes into gallon size ziplock bags with the air squeezed out and is put back into my bear keg or blue barrel, whichever I am using for that trip.
 
G

Guest

Guest
I prepackage all food into zip locks, and when used rinse them to pack out. I only burn tea bags, coffee grounds and wood. I do leave tobacco offerings in places, so I guess I'm not strictly Leave No Trace. I pack out a garbage bag of other people's trash every trip (sigh). I discovered that I feel better when I pack out trash, rather than trying to ignore it. That's just me; I'm not preaching, only practising. I hear you about the twist ties and nails...don't get me started about broken glass and cigarette buts... Brad
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
691
Location
Western Adirondacks
IF you completely burn paper and such in a small but hot fire in an already existing fire pit, AND you pick through the ashes for residue to pack out, then I would on the surface not have too much of a problem with that practice.

However, the toxin police, and the more extreme end of the LNT bell curve may have a different attitude. I was once with a group of strangers that brought too much sloppy food (failed to plan and prepare), but they thought they were being fully LNT. They cleaned their pots and dishes liberally with dry leaves. A lot of them. At the end of 3 days we had a whole canoe full of large garbage bags bulging with dry leaf residue going to the landfill.

I most agree with just packing everything out. How heavy is an empty foil pouch anyway? Didn't you carry it in full?

But given that you burn to completion and remove any residue as you say, what concerns me more is the example being set for others, maybe those young or less experienced than you who may be observing, and later be not nearly so careful as you.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
3,457
Sheesh, don't get me started with LNT, which I believe now means "leave no toilet paper". It's all about time and place; i trip in areas where there are very few people...often none for years at a time. I burn all my garbage. I leave my toilet paper in the bush, buried under a log.

Who the heck lugs leaves out of the forest to put in the landfill? Leaves stuffed in garbage bags that are now going to take lifetimes to decompose? Leaves that could have been burnt! Holy crackers!

We've had this debate many times on different forums. I once tripped in a heavily used place where the the banks of the river and all the camping spots were covered in poop and TP. For sure, pack it out, or burn it or whatever. But that's not for me..I won't go back to a place like that, I'll stay out here in the middle of the boondocks, where poop flies free and people are few.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,386
Location
Raymond, ME
I just finished a trip where campfires were not possible. Camping in the Everglades, it can be hard to find firewood unless you have a really good saw to hack huge pieces of driftwood. And fires have to be on the beach only. Pretty difficult to sift through trash there.

Not all canoeing is in the forest. I am fond of desert canoeing and beach camping too as well as boreal forest trips. There is no debate IMO. Do what seems to be sensible for the area you are in. I agree there is no reason for campsite poop flowers.

Memaquay, you are practicing LNT so don't get riled up. If it burns and you can get the bits that did not burn, what is the difference from burning it out there or at home or having the garbage guys take it away( if its out of sight it must not exist anymore illusion)
 
G

Guest

Guest
Packing out "soiled" leaves!! That's so funny. Two of my nieces hiked the Dome in Yosemite last year, and had to pack out everything, TP and all. I get that, but in the Boreal that would just be silly. A cat hole 100m back from shore/site is fine I think. The TP sculptures are signs of irresponsible laziness. I may trip with a garbage bag, but not with a pooper scooper!
I agree that it's all relative to locale and conditions. BTW a couple years ago I suggested making a tin can TP incinerator; my paddling buddies suggested I solo that year. Just kidding. Brad
 
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