Camping and rubbish; what do you do with it?
When you are camping in the bush, rubbish is inevitable; what can you do with it? In this post, we look at what your options are, and how to avoid having a stinky bag of rubbish inside your vehicle!
Burn what you can
Our first policy, when we are allowed to have a fire, is to burn what we can. This includes paper and cardboard, and food scraps. Any plastic is squashed and taken with us.
I’ll point out for those who think its OK to throw aluminium cans and glass into a fire, that they won’t burn, and your a tosser if you throw them in. Occasionally you’ll get a fire hot enough to melt them, but you will never, ever burn them in a camp fire.
That means the next guy that has to use your fire pit is left with a huge mess to clean up, or you leave an amazing location looking like a dump.
Use decent rubbish bags
If its just one or two people camping, single use plastic bags work fine. Squash what you can, and tie the bags up. Make sure you put them away during the day, and at night time, or you may come back to camp to find a hungry bird has opened it everywhere, looking for a feed. Yep, been there, done that.
If you are collecting a bit more rubbish, the black or green garbage bags you buy (especially the heavy duty ones) are fantastic. Again, make sure you put them away, and keep them out of little arms reach!
We often tie them to the camper trailer boat loader, or a gazebo pole to keep them off the ground and out of the way. Alternatively, we carry a small household bin with us these days that you can stand on the foot peddle and it opens up. We grab the camping rubbish bin out each time we pull up, and it stops animals getting into it.
Storing the rubbish bags
Once you’ve got a bag or two of rubbish, you need somewhere to keep it. Our preference is anywhere outside of your 4WD, caravan or camper trailer.
We use a spare wheel rubbish bag from Bushranger, which has been flawless; you put the bags of rubbish inside the heavy duty bag, zip it up and its secure, doesn’t smell and is easy to access.
This works particularly well if you have a spare wheel on the back of your 4WD. We did, on the 80 Series Land Cruiser, but the new Dmax doesn’t have anything, so we’ve moved it to the front of the camper trailer off the spare wheel, which works just as well.
Alternatively, you can keep the rubbish anywhere you please; milk crates in the canopy or on the roof racks, underbody tool boxes, dirty gear boxes or what ever works. I seriously advise against keeping rubbish inside your car.
Once its been in there for a couple of days, and had a bit of heat go through, you’ll vomit every time you get near your vehicle. It’s not worth it; keep your rubbish outside the vehicle at all costs!
Empty your rubbish responsibly
The next step would seem to be common sense, but sadly it isn’t. When you drive past a rubbish bin for public use (not building site bins, or private residence bins), stop and empty your rubbish. If the bin is full, don’t leave it next to it, as it will be spread over the ground in a matter of hours by hungry animals.
It’s not that hard to dispose of your rubbish responsibly, and its the right thing to do.
Reducing your waste
If you are camping for a long time without access to a rubbish bin, there are a few things you can do to reduce your waste.
The first is to use aluminium cans over glass bottles. These can be stood on or squashed with a can squasher and take up much less room. From there, squash anything you can before putting it in the bin.
If you really have no other options, burn your plastic too, but do it responsibly; away from people, and in a hot fire where its going to burn properly. Its not ideal for the environment, but its certainly better than leaving rubbish around.
Pick up what you can
Unfortunately, we live in a world which is full of grubs. You will arrive at beautiful camp sites with fires full of aluminium cans, litter everywhere and even broken glass. If you can, keep Australia beautiful. Pick it up, teach your kids to do the same, but do it carefully; you don’t want to cut yourself on other peoples lack of respect.
Luckily, in Australia, the fine for littering is pretty substantial, and all you have to do is hand in a photo and some information to Keep Australia Beautiful (KAB) and there’s a good chance the litter bugs will get done.
Anyone who leaves rubbish in the bush deserves the book thrown at them from every direction possible. That said, don’t go out of your way to make a fuss about it, or put yourself in danger by trying to report people. Your safety is far more important, and a subtle photo from the distance is the best option.
Take out what you took in
When you leave your camp site, day spot or wherever you’ve been, you should leave no trace. That means no rubbish anywhere, no furniture or tents, and certainly no drink containers. Leave it pristine for others to enjoy, or it will be locked up and no one will have access.
Rubbish is a part of camping
Rubbish isn’t the most enjoyable thing to have to deal with, but its a reality of life, and where we often camp you don’t have a bin or rubbish truck on a regular basis. You learn to deal with it, in a responsible way. What other ways do you guys use for dealing with rubbish?