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Camping association calls for tighter rules on pooping outdoors

Roll of toilet paper on a tree branch
(Image credit: Getty)

A camping association is calling for laws around pooping in public to be changed, and blaming careless campers for causing environmental damage with their outdoor bathroom habits.

As The Independent (opens in new tab) reports, the Responsible Campers Association Inc (opens in new tab) is challenging laws in New Zealand that allow people to poop in public under certain circumstances, provided nobody is watching. Urinating and defecating in public in New Zealand carries a fine of NZ$200 (about US$125), but hikers and campers may be able to escape the fee if they can prove that it was necessary and was done out of sight.

However, the RCAi says that outdoor explorers are causing environmental damage by not being mindful of where they do their business.

"There is no law in New Zealand that forces one to poop their pants if caught short," the organization said, "and RCAi believes minimising the more undesirable aftermath would be the most appropriate way of addressing the problem in the short term."

The RCAi suggests that current laws should be amended to state that waste should be left at least 50m from any waterway, and should be buried at least 15cm deep.

How to poop in the woods

The question of how to poop in the woods is less straightforward that it might seem, and there are different schools of thought on the subject. Generally speaking, the aim should be to leave no trace, which could mean either burying it or packing it out and taking it with you to dispose of properly later.

"It is not so much the action which creates concern, but the visible after-effects," said Bob Osborne, spokesperson for the RCAi.

Any toilet paper and wipes should be packed out to prevent environmental damage. A colossal wildfire in Arizona that destroyed thousands of acres of forest is believed to have been started by a hiker burning his toilet paper. After his arrest, the man told authorities that he had tried to burn his waste and covered it with stones, but hadn't realized it had kept smoldering overnight. In the morning he tried to put out the fire using his sleeping bag, without success.

Cat Ellis
Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).