The No Toilet Problem: Sensitive Subjects for Walkers

Urinating Outdoors
Urinating Outdoors. Carlos Hernandez Suarez / EyeEm / Getty Images

Yikes! You need to go and there isn't a toilet handy!

When You're Walking in Town and Need a Restroom

  • Know before you need to go: Online search engines for public toilets, some available via cell phone.
  • Gas stations and restaurants in the US are required to have restroom facilities for customers. Search for one and, if necessary, purchase an item to become a customer.
  • Public parks may have restrooms, but a common problem is that they are locked in the winter or have been closed due to local budget problems. At least this may be a location with public shrubbery to use.
  • Construction porta-pots are a blessing. Look for a handy construction site and boldly use them. Even in the suburbs, you can find these at areas with new home or business construction or remodeling or road repair. Whistle back at any construction workers who greet you.
  • Stores and businesses will usually let you use the restroom if you overcome embarrassment and ask. Looking honest but desperate helps.
  • Avoid arrest due to local indecent exposure or public urination law enforcement. Whatever you have to do, find the most hidden spot to do it in.
  • Avoid using private shrubbery. Nobody wants somebody sneaking off into their garden to use it as a bathroom, and you may find yourself sought by local law enforcement for peeping or trespass.

Environmentally Sensitive Natural Elimination (No Restrooms)

(How to S*** in the Woods) There IS a right way to eliminate your wastes in a natural area without a toilet.

Your solid waste products can contaminate ground water, streams and lakes and spread disease.

  • Find a private location in the woods that is at least 20 feet off a trail and at least 200 feet (70 to 75 paces) from a stream, pond or other water to avoid contamination.
  • Urinate into absorbent soil that will soak it up rather than have it run off.
  • Scoop the poop. We require pet owners to do it, should we expect less from ourselves? Bring along a sturdy ziplock bag and pack out your own waste. Nothing comes out of you that wasn't in you to begin with - you are in no danger from your own germs, but you can cause illness in others.
  • To leave it behind: Dig a hole approx 6 inches deep and big enough around for you to hit with some accuracy. Cover over when done.
  • Natural toilet paper - appropriate leaves - are the most environmentally sensitive choice. However, I have known more than one person who chose poison oak or ivy, so know your shrubbery!  Identifying poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac
  • If there is no soil: If your only choice is bare rock or hard pan desert, the recommendation is to pack it out with you. An alternative is to spread out the feces with a stick or other disposable natural item so the sun's ultraviolet rays will break it down and sterilize it faster.

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