As the number of people exploring the great outdoors has exploded, so have the risk to the environment and the public’s health. We’ve known for a long time that burying our waste in six-inch deep cat holes is not a great way of breaking down poop. With so many now pooping in the wilderness, it is clear this is not sustainable to bury our waste, and time to update our backcountry poop etiquette.
we ought to begin teaching backcountry users in nearly every location to pack out their poop with WAG bags (the acronym is for “waste alleviation and gelling”) or similar waste-disposal kits. Such kits usually include toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and special, double-layered bags you can poop directly into, complete with chemical crystals that render human waste inert and minimize the smell. (See below for tips on how to use these kits in the backcountry.)
Many public lands are already moving in this direction. A Forest Service website claims that “waste kits are becoming standard…throughout the West.” Visitors to Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument can now pick up free WAG bags at the visitor center. California’s Mount Whitney has required WAG bags since 2006, and it reports that users pack out 8,000 pounds of poop per year. And Rocky Mountain National Park provides WAG bags not just on climbing routes or above treeline but also at its backcountry permit office and trailheads throughout the park. »
China has been steadily increasing its presence in the Arctic since it defined the far north as a “new strategic frontier” in 2015 and began promoting a “Polar Silk Road” three years later. Moreover, in 2018, Beijing declared itself a “Near Arctic State,” a move that primarily served to underscore the interests of its Arctic claim.
The government in Beijing has its eye on lucrative minerals and other raw materials in addition to the Arctic transport link. There is particular interest in interests in the Canadian Arctic and in mining rights in Greenland. This is because the Arctic is rich in natural resources such as fish, precious metals and fossil fuels.
This video was shot in the Arctic Ocean in March 2018.
For 7 days the crew passed through the Barents Sea to Karsky around the Novaya Zemlya archipelago on the nuclear icebreaker Yamal. They witnessed the northern lights, polar bears, watched the ships stuck in the ice being towed, and were very cold.
In the video you can see two Russian icebreakers – “50 Years of Victory” and “Yamal” with a capacity of 75,000 horsepower.
‘Space to Roam’ is a film inspired by all the unique structures, patterns, and overall “otherworldly” landscapes found in Southwestern America’s public lands in hopes of protecting them. This project is dedicated to the people who preserve the history of and protect our public lands. It is also in honor of ‘astronaut’ Kyle Hague’s grandmother who unfortunately passed away during production.
The love and concern for our environment is something I have always known. Growing up in Wisconsin, I was outside as much as possible – camping fishing, riding my bike… But back then, my mind didn’t stretch much farther than my own backyard. For that, I credit writers like Farley Mowat, Sigurd Olsen, Barry Lopez and many others who were able to describe places of which I barely knew existed. They were some of my biggest sources of inspiration and their words instilled a longing to experience true wilderness for myself. But Robert Service’s ‘The Call of the Wild’, more than any of the others, stirred an unrelenting aching to grab my pack and go.
As a tribute to Robert Service’s eloquent words as well as the planet that is the foundation of both our dreams and health, I gathered up footage from the past eight years and five continents for an Earth Day tribute featuring some of Service’s lines.
And if you think this video and poem might inspire someone else, please share it.
In the years since I discovered ‘The Call of the Wild’, I feel that I have lived each line tenfold. But that doesn’t mean I don’t need a reminder that the fate of our planet is in our hands. Earth day is a good start. But our efforts to reduce waste and pollution, curb greenhouse gas emissions, protect endangered species or remove plastic from our oceans should not end when the clock strikes midnight. There are a lot of great environmental organizations doing important work on behalf of our planet and I suggest that you support one or two or more. Of course, we need to take responsibility for our own actions as well. The environmental crises we face today are not problems for someone else to solve and we all need to make significant efforts on both the individual and global level.
I’ve spent several Earth Day’s on the Arctic Ocean either at, or very near, the North Pole. On April 22nd, 2010, I wrote this, “The weather started out relatively calm but the wind steadily increased to what I would consider near brutal proportions. We skied with our down parkas at times. Brrr. I guess it was the Arctic Ocean’s fun little way to remind us who’s in charge around here.”
So often on my expeditions, I feel insignificant and afraid, barely withstanding the extremes of our planet. But today, we all venture into uncharted territory. Human beings have an unprecedented ability to change and alter our environment. While we all need resources to be able to live and survive, which resources we use, how we use them and if they’re renewable or not should be cornerstone to every decision we make.
Join Belinda Baggs, Wayne Lynch, and Kimi Werner as they travel to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to assess the health of the largest living structure on the planet.
Patagonia via YouTube:
Sometimes it’s the things we don’t see that matter most.
Connected by a shared passion for the ocean and a desire to protect it, Belinda Baggs, Kimi Werner and Wayne Lynch embarked on a sailing journey along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The largest living structure on earth, the reef provides habitats for thousands of species. The reef, however, is under threat. Currently almost half of its coral has been lost or damaged, most of this in some way attributable to human impact, the biggest single factor being climate change. The three sailors explored the reef and experienced personally how something as vast and wonderful as the Great Barrier Reef can at the same time be entirely vulnerable, realizing as they sailed and swam that time is fast running out to save it.
Please tread lightly, pack out your trash, and treat every person and location with respect.
Please do not bury waste or wipes – even those that are biodegradable. Always pack out bags, sanitary wipes, and feminine hygiene products to minimize impact on the environment and the spread of disease.
If you find any errors, have any tips, or see anything that might need improving, please let me know.