Sunday, November 03, 2013

So what to do with the rubbish ...

One of the great issues that one faces when going to wilderness camps is that there isn't anywhere to throw used containers, tins, packaging and scraps of food and leftovers and it is always a problem as to what exactly to do about this because the stench of 10 day old rubbish that has been baking in the kalahari sun is quite something else.  Having stinky rubbish, aside from being unpleasant, also attracts bees, flies and other animals that take the odour to mean that there is something edible to had.  In my case, since I am highly allergic to bees, I try very hard not to attract them so I try to follow the guidelines are as follows:

1.  Try to use recipes which don't generate too much in the way of organic waste.
2.  Try to take just enough ingredients to make just enough food so that there aren't any leftovers.  Have a stash of edibles that don't require cooking if you really miscalculate badly or if you have teenagers and feed these to them if they are still hungry at the end of a meal.
3.  If there are leftovers try to incorporate them in the next meal if possible.
4.  Organic matter can be divided into two groups, those that it is possible to burn and those that one can't really burn.  Of course given a big enough fire one can burn anything but because firewood is often in short supply trying to burn half a pot of leftover pap just isn't going to happen.
5.  Anything organic that can be burnt in the fire should e.g. egg shells, naartjie peels, nut husks etc and small amounts of organic waste.  Basically anything that is small enough that the fire available can dry out and incinerate.  Bones from chops should be burnt and then the leftover bones sifted from the fire the next morning and taken with you along with the cans in #9.
6.  Burn any tins in the fire to sterilise them then crush them with a mallet.
7.  Plastic cartons and packaging should be burnt in the fire.  This should only be done after you have finished cooking as burning plastics sometimes gives off noxious gases so stay up wind.  Under normal circumstances, one shouldn't burn plastic at all but these are not normal circumstances.
8.  If there is any organic food that can't be burnt, then go 200m outside of camp, watch out for predators, break or crumble it into reasonably small pieces and scatter it around but it is by far the best to not to have to do this at all by taking note of #1 and #2.  The animals around will make sure it doesn't stay scattered for long but one wants to avoid making the camping site a culinary destination for them as much as possible, see #1 and #2 again.
9.  Pack the crushed cans and sterilised bones in a sack and take them back with you to where they can be disposed of appropriately.
10. Wash/rinse any glass bottles that are finished and take them back with you to where they can be disposed of appropriately.

Remember, if the food came with you there is definitely space for the remains to go back with you and I am aware that burning plastic isn't the best practice and I certainly wouldn't be doing it if there was an alternative method of disposing of the rubbish.

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