• This section is a collection of FAQs on the Camino. No new questions can be posted here, but questions that are asked often will be move here by a moderator.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Please think twice before you travel to Spain now. More here.

Search over 55.000 Camino Questions

A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Advertisement

Toilet Etiquette

Status
Not open for further replies.
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I've posted this pet peeve elsewhere, but thought I'd give it its own thread.

Ladies (yes, especially ladies)... please do NOT leave soiled toilet paper lying along the WAY.

You have two options I can think of:

1. Carry a ziplock bag and put your soiled paper into the bag and dispose of it in the TRASH at any town or the next alburgue.

2. Carry a hankerchief to use when you pee and simply wash it each evening when you wash your other clothes.

It's horrible to see toilet paper strewn along the path, and last year by August, you could simply follow the "white=bricked road" to Santiago... not a nice thing to do when visiting in someone else's country. Think of how upset you'd be if it was YOUR front yards!

Here is a sad picture of a sweet little shelter we found along the path. It would have been a great place to get out of the rain, except for....



And here, this was right along the trail...



And please, if you MUST take a dump, do it in the morning before you leave in the TOILET! Or at least bury the thing:



Rebecca has a funny story about taking dumps along the Way.

As far as toilet paper, I do not agree with the "bury it" theory because animals will dig it up, and it takes a LONG time for toilet paper to disintegrate. Just be responsible and either use cloth or carry OUTyour TP.

If you're going to carry paper, instead of a roll you can purchase large packages of SMALLER packages of what we call "kleenex" at many larger grocery stores or supermarkets. A couple of pilgrims could split up those 12-packs and it would last a week or more. Most of the public restrooms (in restaurants, etc.) that I ran across did have TP, but not all, so don't expect it. Be prepared when you go in.

And if you DO need to use a bar for a BM, support the local economy and buy something... a coffee... a beer... a sandwich... a candy bar... fruit...

Lastly, flush the danged toilets! You will find interesting and various types of "flushing" mechanisms along the WAY. If you don't see a handle, look for a push button on top, or a string or wire above your head that you pull...

That's all I can think of... I'm sorry to post these ugly TP trail photos. But I'd rather see it on this forum than along the Camino. Hopefully it will inspire people NOT to leave their TP along the path..

Please pass this info along in a gentle manner to other pilgrims you meet along the way.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
Quite agree Annie.
One thing I have found here this year which may be a new idea. A very tight roll of Andrex toilet paper simply rolled on itself. 100 sheets and smaller in diameter than the usual inner cardboard roll. Tucks in a pocket for those times that the 'servicios/aseos' do not have paper, and comes in a plastic cover so will stay dry OK. Less bulky than even small packs of Kleenex, and you can use it as paper hanky too!
Buen 'paper free' Camino
Valerie
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
Thanks for bringing up the subject Annie. Sometimes, especially in what could be a shelter against the rain, or behind buildings in the middle of no-where, it is simply disgusting. I remember getting caught in a super thunderstorm along the Fromista canal two years ago. We could see a small building in the distance, but there was no way that we could use it as a shelter. Uggh! As far as Kleenex are concerned, you can usually buy single packets in the smaller shops, but never in the supermarkets, where you will only find the 12 packs. Anne
 

mrbillyto

Member
Thank you AnnieSantiago!
Thanks for your graphic photographs! Before I did my Camino last year, I had read posts on here about how bad this situation was but until I actually saw it first hand, I no real idea just how bad it could be. I'm a guy so I was not as apt to (and didn't if the situation arose) leave the same refuge behind but I still had to look at/smell it too.
Aside from all of the stuff in Annie's pictures that is and shouldn't be left behind, I was astounded...absolutely astounded at the number of plastic bottles and pop cans and food wrappers that people left behind...just tossed beside the path. It was beyond me why people couldn't carry their leftovers to the next town, often just a few kms away or even in sight and they still tossed it beside the path. Every town I walked through had some sort of outdoor garbage container and some even large recycling bins that were right along the path. How much does an empty plastic bottle really weigh? I don't litter at home so why would I litter in someone else's home country.
Anyhow, this being a busier year, I am hoping some people read this and will at least do their part.
Sorry for the rant as I know there are other posts about this on here but I am glad Annie brought it back up as a topic for all of those lucky pilgrims walking this year so they can plan accordingly.
Bill
 
thanks so much for those photos, my first camino on Francis, i just could not believe it, so i think your approach and photos are very beneficial toward help all to solve this problem. i know all of us who enjoy the vibe and beauty of the various Camino's routes, appreciate both sisters and brothers being good stewards of the earth....may the Forest be With You.... :wink:
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
Why all the toilet paper when they have a perfectly good left hand?
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
My goodness I wondered who would have the stomach to tackle this issue and so graphically at that. Thank you Annie you are well....a pooper trouper :lol:
Having walked into some fresh 'pilgrim spoor' on the path :cry: (now this wasn't an 'in extremis' case of diarrhea ....it'd make you wonder wouldn't it?) I became a little paranoid about such 'landmines'.
After that I occasionally found myself wondering which of my fellow pilgrims was 'The Phantom Arse'? I'd two or three candidates lined up but the evidence was too circumstantial.
Nell
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
One of the advantages of a March Camino is that the ugly presentation has not yet had time to build up. We saw paper last year but not in any huge quanities as it was early. It did seem to be worse on the outskirts of towns in areas set aside for picnic, rest stop, etc. so may not have all been a Pilgrim problem.
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
It is such a difficult issue, because of the lack ot toilets along the way. Here in New Zealand the tracks like the Milford Track etc have eco toilets at strategic intervals. They are nice looking simple structures which run on solar principles and lead to odourless drying up of poos and pees. The track looks pretty pristine.
With the usual pilgrim pattern of leaving the refuges early before breakfast, the body usually is not ready to do it's bit before setting off, so lots of people get cought out. It is horrible and I agree with the unpleasant implications. It is gross. Girls check out http://www.freshette.com It is a female urinary device that helps you pee while standing up ( like a guy). It is great because you do not have to drop you pants. Regards, Gitti
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
I just thought of another really annoying thing. When I walked the Camino in 2006, there was a big group of pilgrims walking together who would regularly raid the toilet paper supply at the refuges before leaving in the early morning and none of the toilets would have a single piece of toilet paper left. It was really off to do that. Gitti Harre
 

renegadepilgrim

Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Camino(s) past & future
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
Here's another thought.....bring an extra garbage bag with you and pick up trash as you see it. All you need is a pair of nitrile gloves and a bag you can seal and then just drop it in a garbage can when it's full.

Anyone heard of the "Leave No Trace" philosophy of hiking/backpacking?
http://www.lnt.org/programs/principles.php

When I go hiking here in Oregon, if there is trash on the trail, I pick it up and put it in a bag that I dispose of when I see a garbage can. If others see you doing this, perhaps they will get the hint and stop being litterbugs.

So, if any of you see a pilgrim on the camino frances this April/May picking up garbage, it's probably me. I'll be the one with the Oregon patch on my hat or backpack. aka dirt-worshipping, tree-hugging hippie (tongue planted firmly in cheek here)......Sorry, this is a scattered post, but it just makes sense to me to pick up garbage when I see it.
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
Great what a lovely contribution, I have done this a few times too and it feels good and sets an example. Have a good walk! Regards, Gitti
 

renegadepilgrim

Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Camino(s) past & future
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
I have to admit, though, the AMOUNT of garbage is what amazes me. Those pictures are disturbing and educational, all at the same time. I don't know if me picking up a back of garbage would even make a dent in it. However, I do know that twenty or thirty people picking up a bag of garbage will make a huge dent in the garbage! :D
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
It is sad that a posting like this needs to be put on this forum. That being said, we are becoming a society where we expect someone else to clean up after us. Thanks for the reminder (A picture is worth a thousand words). The suggestions/actions of picking up trash along the way also deserve a Thank you. The best teacher is always by example.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
renegadepilgrim said:
I have to admit, though, the AMOUNT of garbage is what amazes me. Those pictures are disturbing and educational, all at the same time. I don't know if me picking up a back of garbage would even make a dent in it. However, I do know that twenty or thirty people picking up a bag of garbage will make a huge dent in the garbage! :D

Many, many people have posted here that they do their part and pick up garbage when they walk the Camino. You certainly are not the only one doing this.
Last year the South African Confraternity had litter bags made and passed them out at all of the Albergues along the way and encouraged pilgrims to carry them and fill them up. A fantastic contribution to the Camino.
Sil can probably give us the numbers of the litter bags prepared and passed out.
 

renegadepilgrim

Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Camino(s) past & future
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
I didn't mean to imply that people here are not doing their part. I am new to the camino, as are many of us, so hopefully this kind of post will be a good reminder to all of us, new and old, to pick up along the way....
 

ksam

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese '08, Frances '11, del Norte '14, Invierno '16, Ingles '17, Primitivo October 2018
nellpilgrim said:
Thank you Annie you are well....a pooper trouper :lol:
.... fresh 'pilgrim spoor' on the path
Nell

Both of you, Thanks, Annie & Nell! You've completely made my morning. How sad that we need to have this post, and yet I am aboslutely grateful Annie that you've tackled it. We've encountered it here on hikes and on the Camino too. And as our year in Portugal was the rainiest ever, the non useable sheds and buildings really got to be a problem. We'd just keep slogging along.

ON this note, Ladies, there is a device for doing it standing. I haven't used one yet but have read and heard great things from other women, and will probably be looking into it this spring. End result, no dropped drawer exposure issues and next to no tissues ever! The company I'm looking at that has it is REI here in the US. I believe one of the other major camping suppliers, Campmor also has it in their arsenal of goods.

So take a look and give it a thought ladies, we all benefit in the end!

Now the other issue...folks please, try reading the book "How to Shit in the Woods!" Get a clue people!

Buen Camino,

Karin
 

Beverley

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2009, Camino Portuguese 2010, Del Norte 2011, Pamplona to Burgos and Santiago to Finnesterra 2012
Hi all, It completely throws me that people still do this. In Canada we have a book called How to Shit in the Woods. It is, of course, about not leaving anything but footprints behind. I believe we sould carry out our stuff to the next trash or garbage site. It is ours after all. What is wrong with carying a sealed zip-lock bag to the next garbage dump with paper and whatever else inside. I repeat----It is ours after all. Feels good, don't it :oops:
 

marian55

Member
Camino(s) past & future
camino de madrif
So,

After this contribution we might say that a packing list without a couple of bags for carrying litter and tissues = no decent packing list!

Great subject!
 

Caminando

Veteran Member
I doubt that the people on this forum are indiscriminate foulers. But this thread shows that the worst offenders for leaving paper all over the place are women. Sort yourselves out girls; stop fouling up our camino. Blokes piss anywhere, and do, but this dissipates (oops) the problem so that it is no problem. As for the gadget that turns you into a bloke - what would Freud have to say about that?

People wont stop taking a dump when on the camino, so the only answer is to leave the path and go a good distance (100 metres or more) and then adopt Rodin's "Thinker" position. Paper can be buried by kicking some earth over it. The offending item is biodegradable compost, and some time later may help to push up some daisies. Carrying it around (even if the bag is green :roll: ) is disgusting. However, perhaps there should be a policy which says that women will not be given the Compost :wink: ela till they carry at least some of their rubbish off the camino. Instant karma you could say?

Watch your step! :arrow:
 

Caminando

Veteran Member
nellpilgrim said:
....... which of my fellow pilgrims was 'The Phantom Arse'? I'd two or three candidates lined up but the evidence was too circumstantial.
Nell

Hi Nell, to find the culprit, you could have used Inquisition techniques and "shown them the instruments".
:|
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
One of many articles on Toilet Etiquette:
Backpack: In Camp: Managing Human Waste

Proper disposal of human waste is important to avoid pollution of water sources, avoid the negative implications of someone else finding it, minimize the possibility of spreading disease, and maximize the rate of decomposition.In most locations, burying human feces in the correct manner. Solid human waste must be packed out from some places, such as narrow river canyons.Deciding where to relieve yourself requires a little foresight.

1. Number One: If you only need to pee, make sure you are 150 feet from a trail, water source, or from a slope or drainage that feeds into a water source. At camp, walk at least 150 feet from your sleeping and cooking areas. Urine is virtually sterile, but it's nice not to have the stench of urine wafting by as you're cooking dinner or trying to get to sleep.
2. Number Two: More planning is required when you have to do more than pee. It's important that you follow these procedures for proper waste disposal to prevent our waters from becoming contaminated, to ensure that people and animals don't encounter your waste, and to speed the rate at which fecal matter decomposes.
1. Choose your poop site: Your poop site should be 200 feet from trails, camp, and a water source - again, in a place that will not drain into water during the next storm. Select an inconspicuous site where other people will be unlikely to walk or camp. If camping in the area for more than one night, or if camping with a large group, poop sites should be widely dispersed.
2. Dig your cathole: Use either the heel of your boot or a plastic or metal trowel and dig a hole 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter.
3. Poop in the hole.
4. Then take a stick and mix up the poop with the surrounding soil so bacteria that decompose fecal matter can get straight to work.
5. Fill in the hole and scatter leaves or rocks on top to disguise it.

Toilet Paper: Never bury toilet paper; it must be packed out. Too often, I've seen toilet areas at popular campsites littered with toilet paper that has escaped from hikers' shallow holes. Carry a Ziplock bag for this purpose.

* It used to be acceptable to burn toilet paper, but the high incidence of fire in the last decade has made people wary of this method. If you have a controlled campfire, though, and if your companions don't object, you can burn your used paper there. Keep in mind that packing it out is the preferred and most environmentally sound method.
* When you get home, dispose of your used toilet paper in the toilet. Contaminated paper cannot end up in a landfill; it must go through your wastewater treatment plant or septic system. The bag can be washed and reused on your next trip.

Natural Toilet Paper: Of course, you can avoid this entire ordeal by using natural toilet paper: Leaves, sticks, smooth stones, snow. When done correctly, this method is as sanitary as regular toilet paper, but without the impact problems. Be aware of where you squat - you don't want to end up in a patch of poison ivy or stinging nettle. Know the poisonous plants in the area you're traveling.

Pack Out Your Poop: If you are traveling in certain conditions - snow, narrow river canyons, some alpine and desert environments, and anywhere the land management agency requires it - you must carry a few extra Ziplock bags and pack out your poop.

-Backpacking: Woman's Guide, by Adrienne Hall Latrines: Latrines may be more acceptable than catholes in certain situations such as when camping with young children or if staying in one camp for longer than a few nights. Use similar criteria for selecting a latrine location as those used to locate a cathole. Since this higher concentration of feces will decompose very slowly, location is especially important. A good way to speed decomposition and diminish odors is to toss in a handful of soil after each use. Ask your land manager about latrine-building techniques.
 

Beverley

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2009, Camino Portuguese 2010, Del Norte 2011, Pamplona to Burgos and Santiago to Finnesterra 2012
Well said Falcon
 

Caminando

Veteran Member
Some time ago, the Parisian municipal authorities used a fleet of motorbikes to remove the stuff daily deposited by thousands of dogs in the city. The bike arrived at the scene and there was an incorporated vacuum hose which took away the offending deposit.The rider didn't even have to get off the bike. It was hygienic, and the work of a few seconds.

Perhaps this system could be used on the camino, and could be a welcome task for anyone wishing to improve the Way?

Instead of serving as an hospitalero, one could volunteer to be a pooperscooper on a scooter. A meritorious action, I'd say.
Bev, Falc?

8)
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
They won't even put out trash cans along the Camino, so I am not holding my breath for other clean up activities.
 

Beverley

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2009, Camino Portuguese 2010, Del Norte 2011, Pamplona to Burgos and Santiago to Finnesterra 2012
Last year I stayed with friends who have a private albergue in Velaca near Porto Maraine. While there I did a patrol once or twice along a short stretch of the Camino and picked up bottle, cans, wrappers, plastic bags, etc. I was astonished at how much litter or garbage as we Canadians say was just dropped, stuffed into rock walls or hidden behind bushes. I guess people do not realize that other Pilgrims share the Way and have to deal with all their left over ego crap "I can drop this, who cares!" :arrow: Let's just make a difference where we can and the next time I see someone dropping something on the trail, I will pick it up and give it back to them. Suppose they will get the message??? I didn't really ask that question did I?
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
Caminando said:
nellpilgrim said:
....... which of my fellow pilgrims was 'The Phantom Arse'? I'd two or three candidates lined up but the evidence was too circumstantial.
Nell

Hi Nell, to find the culprit, you could have used Inquisition techniques and "shown them the instruments".
:|

Hi Caminado,
I like the idea but unfortunately my Torquemada travel kit didn't make it through the final packing cut not to mind airport security.....next time though I'm thinking being creative with sharp pointy sticks :twisted:
 

Caminando

Veteran Member
Beverley said:
Last year I stayed with friends who have a private albergue in Velaca near Porto Maraine. While there I did a patrol once or twice along a short stretch of the Camino and picked up bottle, cans, wrappers, plastic bags, etc. I was astonished at how much litter or garbage as we Canadians say was just dropped, stuffed into rock walls or hidden behind bushes. I guess people do not realize that other Pilgrims share the Way and have to deal with all their left over ego crap "I can drop this, who cares!" :arrow: Let's just make a difference where we can and the next time I see someone dropping something on the trail, I will pick it up and give it back to them. Suppose they will get the message??? I didn't really ask that question did I?

Hi B

Are you sure that "patrols" and confrontation about "ego crap" will achieve what you want? You might well find the confrontation turned on you, so be prepared for that, in your own way. It's a risk.
 

Beverley

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2009, Camino Portuguese 2010, Del Norte 2011, Pamplona to Burgos and Santiago to Finnesterra 2012
Yes Billy I understand your point. Too bad though, eh!
 

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
I know it is difficult on this topic but please could you refer to the problem of paper and human excrement on the Camino as politely as possible an perhaps not use the old Anglo-Saxon words where possible.
 

ksam

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese '08, Frances '11, del Norte '14, Invierno '16, Ingles '17, Primitivo October 2018
Wow Cominando!! That would be a sight to see! Would the said pooper scooper have a bell around there neck and cry out "Unclean" like lepers of old? Or would the stench simply drive all out of the way before them?

The book Beverly mention..."How to Shit in the Woods" is widely available here in the US too and should be read by any and all heading out onto the trail. Doesn't matter whether it's the Camino or the AT...people need to think before they "go" .
 

Caminando

Veteran Member
ksam said:
Wow Cominando!! That would be a sight to see! Would the said pooper scooper have a bell around there neck and cry out "Unclean" like lepers of old? Or would the stench simply drive all out of the way before them?

The book Beverly mention..."How to Shit in the Woods" is widely available here in the US too and should be read by any and all heading out onto the trail. Doesn't matter whether it's the Camino or the AT...people need to think before they "go" .

Hi K

Those scooters were real - but it seems they dont use them any more. Pity, given the amount of doggy doo on Parisian streets. I could handle an undemanding job like that in my years of decline. Preferably on the camino, of course. And I am sure St Peter would approve, with all the merit I'd accumulate.

I have been 'going in the woods' -like the bears -for decades, and I am content with my methods. Like the WWI poet said, "There is a quiet corner of a foreign field which is forever Britain".

But that sounds like an essential book for those new to trails etc. I get the idea that for many, the camino is their first experience of trailwalking. But those who should read it, won't read it. And it would also need to be in Spanish.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Advertisement

Booking.com

Camino Conversations

Camino Conversations

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

Most downloaded Resources

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 16 1.2%
  • February

    Votes: 10 0.8%
  • March

    Votes: 56 4.2%
  • April

    Votes: 200 15.1%
  • May

    Votes: 329 24.9%
  • June

    Votes: 96 7.3%
  • July

    Votes: 24 1.8%
  • August

    Votes: 27 2.0%
  • September

    Votes: 381 28.8%
  • October

    Votes: 158 12.0%
  • November

    Votes: 17 1.3%
  • December

    Votes: 7 0.5%

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store
Top