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No one likes trashy highways, at least no one that I know. And yet many of us think nothing of littering our freeways and streets. It’s not uncommon to see a car window go down an inch or two and a cigarette butt or a candy wrapper sail out.

I saw a middle-aged woman sitting at a bus stop recently. She could have been anybody’s mother, tidy and clean. Despite her nice appearance, she thought nothing of littering the space around her. She opened a snack and let the wrapper flutter to the ground without a second glance. A trash can stood close by.


Unfortunately, this trashy attitude too often carries over into our beautiful wilderness, where there are no trash cans. Frequently while hiking, we are confronted with litter spoiling what we go to the wilderness for – peace and beauty. Let’s determine to never detract from the pristine beauty of the wilds by leaving trash.

So, what do I do with my trash while I am backpacking? You pack it right back out and leave nothing behind. Remember to “Take only pictures and leave only footprints.”


Hike with a sturdy plastic bag or two for the purpose and store them in your backpack. Make sure they can be zipped shut or closed tightly with a durable twist tie, not just the paper-covered ties you find in the produce aisle of your grocery store. Plastic-covered twist ties that you get with new electronic equipment work great.

You want any odors that might attract bears or other wild creatures sealed tightly inside. Food wrappers, flattened cans, spent fuel cannisters and batteries, even toilet paper and hygiene products go into your pack-out trash bag. Used pads or tampons are especially attractive to bears. Seal ’em up and pack ’em out. Don’t invite trouble with sloppy behavior.

Don’t scatter your trash – pack it out. Don’t bury your trash – pack it out. If you’re strong enough to pack it in, you’ll be strong enough to pack it back out – all the way home and to your personal trash container.

Hike trashy? No!

Keep our wilderness and trails pristine? Yes!


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