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fgoodwin

Burning trash?

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We allow the boys to burn paper and paper products in the fire. LNT trace is not violated and here is why in our case.

Up here more and more camp sites/grounds only allow fires that are above ground. So we have portable fire pits we take with us.

With the above ground portable fire pits we take all of our ash out with us. So LNT is not violated as we take it all out with us.

 

No plastics in the fire, no garbage, just paper type waste.

 

On trips that we do not bring the portable pits..if paper goes in it must burn all the way to nothing, so typically we don't burn anything but wood.

 

Jerry

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if any of you have done any major hiking ( like on the AT, north country trail, ect.), you would know how important it is to have a light pack. hauling around all your garbage is almost impossible, for one it is a good way to get bears in your camp, #2 you either bury or burn most of it. it doesnt hurt the ground if you bury it (it meaning small amounts of aluminum foil), or burn it. #3, it usually ends up getting all over your pack, and making a great mess of it.

 

thats just what i think, and thats how we do it when we go hiking for long distances

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To continue on that thought....

First you should take as little trash with you on the hike.

Remove all packaging possible before you leave home.. paper etc.

Food items should be repackaged to meet your LNT needs on the hike.

Second, if you do burn trash down to small ash it will not hurt the ground. But you need to ensure it has burned all the way down.

I have backpacked with very little trash... in fact using the "Pack it out" school of thought.. I can remember packing out all my trash in a 1 gallon zip lock bag. That is not a lot of trash and not heavy or messy either.

 

Bottom line- it is all in the planning. If you plan around your trash you will find that you have very little in the end.

 

Jerry

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Menus are different, but here are some ideas (from my last backpack trip)

 

Breakfasts- I take about 6 eggs and crack them into a water bottle, chop up ham and throw it in there too. That is enough breakfast for two days.

 

Lunches- I found these little bags of tortellini at Safeway. The come in a bag, so it is easy. I take about a half a small bottle of sauce and put it in a zip lock bag... boil water and add noodles, after noodles are done.. add sauce. Good lunch.

 

Dinners- I have taken the dehydrated stuff. My favorites are the Chicken stews and noodles. Good Carbs and filling.

I take jerky to snack on and something sweet.

 

Of all of this I only have two ziplock backs and the bag from the dehydrated food. It all fits into a 1 gallon zip lock bag.

 

I take crystel light powder mix to add to water, or just water.

 

Light and healthy. You can mix and match, but the menu above is typical of the type of food.

 

I always eat well, and I never sacrifice food for weight. I would rather leave behind something non essential.

 

The Fieldbook has some good info on cooking for a trek.

 

Jerry

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I have no problem with burning "burnables" while backpacking - assuming such fires are legal and done safely (I recall hearing about a large forest fire that was started by someone burning their used toilet paper), BUT I don't think it is appropriate when "car camping".

 

Unnecessary burning kicks out all sorts of pollutants and the paper ash is messy and a risk to tent flies. There is no reason why metal, aluminum, glass, cardboard and plastics can't be hauled out and recycled. Paper and messy stuff (such as foil used during cooking) can be baged and deposted in an appropriate trash bin.

 

In some places where sufficient cat holes cannot be dug even fecal matter needs to be packed out using "poop tubes".

 

schleining and hacimsaalk12 commented that burying the unburned remains is OK.

 

If you are in absolute wilderness that would only see a handfull of visitors each year, then I'd agree with burying unburned remains, but most do not backpack or camp in such areas. They use the same trails or camp areas that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people use every year.

 

If each of those groups starts digging little cat holes to bury their unburned garbage, it not only disrupts the ground cover and promotes erosion, but there is also a good chance that many visitors will tend to bury their trash in the same general area. Considering that metals and plastics take many decades to decompose, that area soon becomes what I would refer to as a "landfill".

 

If you don't want to carry it out, then simply don't carry it in.

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It appears to me that the study cited by the forest service is a bit flawed. For one thing their fires appear to me to be too small to generate enough heat for proper burning. When we burn trash at a camp out it is in a hot fire. Incomplete buring will generate many nasties. If the fire is hot enough, there will be none or very little nasties.

 

Second, as far as there air testing methods in respect to exposure to the smoke by attendies. They were sampling the smoke right down in the fire ring. When completing a study for assessing exposure to toxic chemicals, you must sample the air at the breathing zone. Basically where you intake air. If I were to breath at the location where they were taking samples I would not have much of a breather left.

 

I am not advocating burning of all trash. We should avoid burning things like batteries or heavy plastic items, and aluminiuim. When you burn you need to be be aware of the local rules and it should be in a hot fire.

 

Pete

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Great question fgoodwin. The answers can easily be found in Backpacker's Guide to LNT.

 

The bigger question is how closely do you want to follow them?

 

LNT says to minimize use and impact of fires. They suggest that the fuel used in a fire be no thicker than your wrist. Using that guide line the fire will probably not get hot enough to reduce paper to fine ash.

 

"pack it in;pack it out" is just that.If you can carry it in you can carry it out.

 

I recently took 4 scouts on a 5 day 30 mile backpacking trip on the AT in NJ. 6 people(2 adults,4scouts) we did not fill 2 1 gallon bags of garbage. As scheining said if you plan properly there is little to take out. Those 4 scouts besides getting the trip they needed for backpacking MB they also finished earning the BSA LNT award.

 

BTW I am our unit's LNT coordinator/instructor.

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"LNT says to minimize use and impact of fires. They suggest that the fuel used in a fire be no thicker than your wrist. Using that guide line the fire will probably not get hot enough to reduce paper to fine ash. "

 

up in NH, on the AT we could only burn things less than 2in. in diameter. this was enough to get a hot fire. we got the fire hot enough to burn paper to fine ash, as well as melting aluminum down to almost nothing.

 

"I recently took 4 scouts on a 5 day 30 mile backpacking trip on the AT in NJ. 6 people(2 adults,4scouts) we did not fill 2 1 gallon bags of garbage. As scheining said if you plan properly there is little to take out."

 

well, for starters, each time we went up to NH, on the AT, we had at least 13 people with us. then, we ate things that were mostly packed in plastic and aluminum. you know how hardit would be to pack all that stuff out? we mostly burnt the junk, and whaw we couldn't, we buried in EXTREMELY small quanities, and in EXTREMELY remote locations, sometimes 1-2 miles away from camp.

 

i have nothing wrong with burning, as long as most of the garbage is reduced, or totally burnt up. the only kind of things i have a problem burning, are things like batteries, pressure treated wood, styrofoam, and other things that make a huge mess, and pollute everything.

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"we ate things that were mostly packed in plastic and aluminum. you know how hardit would be to pack all that stuff out?"

 

Just as hard it was to carry it in in the first place. Where there is a will, there always is a way.

 

Do you actually believe that what you bury stays buried? Some animal will eventually find it and just dig it up. They are resourceful critters.

 

 

www.lnt.org They do a much better job of explaining LNT guidelines than I can. Since I do not wish to become long winded.

 

link worked(This message has been edited by ljnrsu)

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"Do you actually believe that what you bury stays buried? Some animal will eventually find it and just dig it up."

 

not if you bury it deep enough. this is what we did. we went back last year to places where we had buried stuuf, and the ground was undisturbed there.

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I put this question directly to the LNT organization, and here is their response:

 

There are several reasons we advocate packing out trash (and leftover food) rather than burning it:

It generally takes a very hot fire to adequately burn trash and/or food completely which can create other problems such as out of control fires, wildfire, etc. A Sierra Club study headed by H.T. Harvey found that incinerating leftover food (and trash) requires nearly 30% more wood than cooking the food to begin with.

Trash that accumulates in fire rings and pits that is not completely burned can be a very strong attractant for wildlife. This can start a viscous cycle of wildlife scavenging for human foods which leads to significant problems.

Trash breeds trash. If one camper leaves a trashed fire ring, those that follow can be more likely to do the same. Fire pits and rings can quickly become backcountry trashcans.

Burning trash can (and does in some cases) give off potentially toxic fumes as well as leaves toxic residue in fire pits and rings. See attached research.

Trash that is partially burned is a eyesore that someone will eventually have to deal with, i.e. pack out. Hopefully this information will help. Please let me know if I can be of additional assistance.

 

Best,

Ben Lawhon

Education Director

Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics

P.O. Box 997, Boulder, CO 80306

P: 303.442.8222 x104

F: 303.442.8217

http://www.LNT.org

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I know its bad form to follow-up your own post, but I had to add this comment:

 

Many of you will no doubt disagree with everything Bill Lawhon of LNT says above. You have that right.

 

But whether or not you agree with the LNT guidelines, it is clear that no one is in a better position to interpret those guidelines than LNT itself.

 

So if you continue to burn your trash because you disagree with the LNT Guidelines, you are free to do so -- just understand that you do so with the knowledge that LNT itself says otherwise.

 

Fred G.

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I never said it was ok to bury trash. I said it was ok to bury the burned trash.. also known as ash.

 

Ash does not hurt the ground... but the more important issue is that animals will not eat it.

That is the reason we do not want to bury garbage, animals get used to eating it.

 

I think a review of LNT is in order.

 

Jerry

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