Ep18 – Camping, Waste & Leaving No Trace


We’re here to talk some trash on this week’s episode of the Snowys Camping Show. Our gear experts Ben and Lauren did a deep dive into everything you need to consider when it comes to waste so that we can all leave nothing but footprints and tyre tracks behind on our camping adventures.

Listen to the full episode here:

Or you can watch the video version here:


  • 00:00 – Intro 
  • 02:04 – What are the leave no trace outdoor ethics?
  • 03:22 – Campsite closures due to rubbish
  • 05:56 – Planning ahead & zero waste camping 
  • 06:45 – Preparing food in advance
  • 08:35 – Options for carrying your waste out 
  • 09:41 – Leave what you find 
  • 10:57 – Personal waste, trowels & toilet paper
  • 14:49 – Showering & dishes 
  • 18:28 – Considerations for local wildlife 
  • 18:50 – Campfires & stoves
  • 23:36 – What you can do to help

Links to things mentioned in this episode:

Leave no trace principles

Fundamentally, the principles are that everything you pack in; you must pack out with you. Leave nothing behind but footprints!

For those who are new to camping, please keep in mind that in national parks and other campsites there aren’t any services that clean up after visitors. Campsites all over the country are under threat of closure due to some visitors leaving rubbish behind, causing damage, and not respecting property rules.

With some extra consideration and care, these places can remain open for everyone to enjoy for years to come.

Keep your rubbish under control

Keeping your waste organised by separating rubbish, recyclables, and organics will make it easy to dispose of responsibly. If you drive past bins and you see them overflowing, don’t add more rubbish on top, wait until you come across the next one. If you had room to carry it in with you, you have room to carry it out!

Get yourself a wheel bag for carrying rubbish

A wheel bag is perfect for carrying your waste while keeping the inside of your car fresh. This way you can pack out your rubbish without the mess or smell affecting your commute to and from the campsite.

Leave what you find

It’s very tempting to take souvenirs with you, but remember to take nothing but photographs and leave the natural habitat for animals and insects undisturbed. If every camper left with a few shells or rocks, it could have a serious ripple effect on the environment.

Personal waste

Don’t empty the contents of your portable camping toilet down a long drop toilet. The chemicals required for a portable toilet to operate will destroy the delicate bacterias inside the drop toilet. This microbial environment is essential for the safe and effective breakdown of waste. Instead, locate a designated dump point to dispose of the contents of your portable toilet. If you’re not sure where to find these areas, apps such as Wikicamps are a great resource.

Consider a trowel

Portable camping toilets can be ideal for people with young kids or those looking for creature comforts, but a trowel will eliminate the issue of carrying out waste with you. We suggest digging a cathole at least 15-20cm deep, do your business, bury toilet paper in the hole, then fill it with dirt, compact it down, and disguise it with leaves when you’re finished. Choose a site that’s 100m away from watercourses, where people are unlikely to camp, ideally with rich soil that will help decomposition.

A 4WD driving down a dirt road in outback, Australia.

Being respectful and keeping campsites tidy benefits all. Image: Sea to Summit

Toilet paper

There’s nothing worse than seeing toilet paper flapping around the bushes on the side of the road, half dug up by animals on the ground or solidified into clumps after it’s been left out in the rain. Despite being made from paper, toilet paper is not actually designed to disintegrate when left outside on the ground. Either bury it properly inside the cathole, burn it if it is safe to do so, or pack it out with you and dispose of it properly.

Campfires and stoves

During campfire season, always use the designated firepits provided at the campsite, or bring your own so that you’re not charring the landscape unnecessarily. Even though campfires add warmth, allow you to cook delicious food, and create an amazing atmosphere, think twice about whether you actually need a blazing campfire each night of your trip. Instead, some nights you could just cook with a portable camp stove to reduce your impact.

Scatter greywater away from water sources

On your camping trips, don’t forget to take along a multi-purpose biodegradable wash for showering and cleaning. When doing your dishes, take care to filter out any food before disposing of your waste water so as to avoid attracting animals. Always scatter your water 100m away from natural sources.

Pick up rubbish, even if it’s not yours

If you see rubbish when you’re on your travels, just pick it up and take it with you. It only takes a couple of seconds and will provide an enormous benefit to the local wildlife and your fellow nature lovers that pass through.

Minimal waste camping/zero waste camping

Challenge yourself to create less waste or choose products that are recyclable or biodegradable when camping to limit rubbish at the source. Bulk food stores are a great place to purchase ingredients that come with no packaging, or you could remove the plastic before your trip and pack your food into reusable containers. The less rubbish you have, the easier it will be to clean up your camp before you head home.

Organisations you can support

Outback Cleanups Australia is a non-profit that travels around the country, removing garbage from coastal areas, bush, and marine environments. You can donate to keep them on the road or purchase one of their OCA Sacks to help clean up when you’re out and about. They are the first organisation of its type to become officially registered in Australia and all donations are now tax-deductible.

Thanks for listening, tune in again for next week’s episode!

Thanks for tuning in to this week’s episode of the Snowys Camping Show Podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Pocket Casts, or Stitcher so you never miss an upload.

If you have any questions for Ben and Lauren, make sure you head over to our Facebook group and let us know as we’d love to hear from you.

Catch you out there!

About the writer...

Joined back in October, 2015

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