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View Poll Results: Do you ever burn waste in a campfire?
No, never! 33 32.04%
Yeah, if I can incinerate it to nonexistence! 70 67.96%
Voters: 103. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-22-2014, 12:41 PM   #1
forest dweller
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OK, curious, be honest...

I feel that I am VERY good when it comes to "leave no trace" principles...

I HATE when people litter or cut live trees in the backcountry...

I leave a campsite as good or better than I found it...

but I DO have campfires...

and occasionally I'll burn gooey trash rather than packing that out...

I'm curious who else does...

or if nobody does and I'll be looked at like a guy with 3 heads if I went backpacking with a few of you and tossed some trash into a fire!

So, be honest...
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Old 06-22-2014, 03:01 PM   #2
Brookie hunter
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I burn the trash
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Old 06-22-2014, 03:37 PM   #3
madmike
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I never make a fire.
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Old 06-22-2014, 03:44 PM   #4
Zach
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I never make a fire.
Me neither.
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Old 06-22-2014, 04:13 PM   #5
Justin
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I usually have a campfire, and always carry out my (and other's) trash, including the half burnt and melted garbage that some folks choose to leave behind in the firepit.
Honestly.
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Old 12-22-2016, 04:52 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by madmike View Post
I never make a fire.
A campsite without a wood fire is like sleeping in your bedroom.
Jim
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Old 11-01-2017, 07:24 PM   #7
Neil
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Originally Posted by Justin View Post
All too often people leave trash in the firepit as if it's the campsite garbage can....
I always leave my busted up lawn chairs (the ones you get at Wallmart for ten bucks) in the fire pit. Just in case the next people can use them. I also leave my dead batteries in lean-to's, just in case.
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Old 11-01-2017, 07:29 PM   #8
Justin
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I always leave my busted up lawn chairs (the ones you get at Wallmart for ten bucks) in the fire pit. Just in case the next people can use them. I also leave my dead batteries in lean-to's, just in case.
Yeah right...and don't forget to leave behind your empty beer cans & propane bottles for those who need to catch up on their target practice.
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Old 11-02-2017, 08:50 AM   #9
Jackson
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Originally Posted by Neil View Post
I always leave my busted up lawn chairs (the ones you get at Wallmart for ten bucks) in the fire pit. Just in case the next people can use them. I also leave my dead batteries in lean-to's, just in case.
So, that's YOU !!!???
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Old 10-24-2018, 12:26 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Neil View Post
I always leave my busted up lawn chairs (the ones you get at Wallmart for ten bucks) in the fire pit. Just in case the next people can use them. I also leave my dead batteries in lean-to's, just in case.
Funny.
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Old 06-22-2014, 06:31 PM   #11
forest dweller
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Well I LOVE a campfire while camping, and if it's a good one and I can disintegrate trash in a nanosecond I do. Probably not best for the air, but it's probably leaving nothing behind in the ashes that wouldn't be there anyway.
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Old 06-23-2014, 06:54 AM   #12
Justin
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Well I LOVE a campfire while camping, and if it's a good one and I can disintegrate trash in a nanosecond I do. Probably not best for the air, but it's probably leaving nothing behind in the ashes that wouldn't be there anyway.
To me, the smell of burning plastic in the backcountry is just as bad as the sight of litter.
Both are considered pollution imho, which I am strongly against. How hard is it to carry out your trash?
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Old 08-17-2019, 09:21 AM   #13
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To me, the smell of burning plastic in the backcountry is just as bad as the sight of litter.
Both are considered pollution imho, which I am strongly against. How hard is it to carry out your trash?
Plastics should NEVER be burned in a campfire (or a woodstove or anywhere else). Incomplete combustion of polymers is one of the largest sources of Dioxins and Furans in the Environment. While lots of the fire may be hot enough to reduce everything to CO2 and H2O and ash, cooler zones will not and these insidious poisons will be formed and carried off on the smoke plume.

I have burned paper, but my experience was it does not burn completely and the wind scatters the unburnt residue around the campsite. So anymore everything goes in the garbage bag in the truck, and like Justin, I clean up what the others have left me, if I have room. The drywall pails and other "supplies" someone had stored behind the outhouse at Sumner Stream a couple of years ago just would not all fit when I got packed up for the trip home, but the rangers generally have some extra space in the back of their pickups.
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Old 08-17-2019, 10:30 AM   #14
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"Plastics" is an overly broad description.

There are many different materials in the family known commonly as "plastics." For example, the very common polyethylene and polypropylene (like an original translucent grey Nalgene bottle) contain no nitrogen or chlorine and will not produce furans or toxic dioxins. These "plastics" are basically "candle wax with longer molecules." Of course other plastics like PVC can produce nasty chemicals when burned.

And the "my fire is OK because I only burn "all natural" stuff, and none of that "nasty manmade stuff" position is also silly. Try burning poison ivy sometime and see how that smoke treats you. And I'm sure there are other "natural fuels" you can pick up in the woods that will produce toxic smoke.
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:49 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by TCD View Post
"Plastics" is an overly broad description.

There are many different materials in the family known commonly as "plastics." For example, the very common polyethylene and polypropylene (like an original translucent grey Nalgene bottle) contain no nitrogen or chlorine and will not produce furans or toxic dioxins. These "plastics" are basically "candle wax with longer molecules." Of course other plastics like PVC can produce nasty chemicals when burned.

And the "my fire is OK because I only burn "all natural" stuff, and none of that "nasty manmade stuff" position is also silly. Try burning poison ivy sometime and see how that smoke treats you. And I'm sure there are other "natural fuels" you can pick up in the woods that will produce toxic smoke.
Any regulation or law is going to have "reasonable" exceptions if we start picking it apart in excruciating detail. From the governmental stand point, it's impossible to write regulations/laws that account for each and ever possible instance- including ones that provide for those exceptions without also running the risk of weakening the law by opening up the potential for unreasonable exceptions. The best laws tend to be concise and simple.

Beyond that, however, I would still question the ethics of burning "plastics" even if they are of the type that are "basically candle wax with longer molecules" and can be burned with minimal impact. Perceived social norms play a huge role in how beginner hikers/campers/backpackers especially formulate their own set of ethics and chosen behaviors. If these users see other users (especially ones that are visibly more experienced) burning plastic, they'll assume that this is "accepted, normal behavior" for backcountry users and do the same- without any knowledge of different types of plastics and what the consequences can be for burning some types- and likely will even just burn garbage indiscriminately. For 95% of our population, trash is trash. Few possess the knowledge and understanding to differentiate beyond that.

I would argue that if any user is inspired at least in part by direct observation of our own actions to engage in harmful behavior in the backcountry- even if there is a relevant distinction between our and their actions- then at least some of the responsibility for their impacts rests on our shoulders.
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Old 06-23-2014, 07:09 PM   #16
yayabrazie
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I never ever litter. I go to school for environmental studies for crying out loud.
I might burn paper to get the fire started, usually in wet conditions, but I do not ever burn plastic. I take everything back with me, and recycle what I can.
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Old 06-23-2014, 08:26 PM   #17
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Wow, after a day and a half of voting, most folks on this forum would rather illegally pollute the air with chemical toxins, than put a plastic wrapper or bottle in their pocket, or in their carry-out garbage bag.
Very surprising, and I must say, disappointing!
After all, we're not just talking about paper plates here are we?
Not a great message to send to people. Again, just my opinion.
Goodbye.
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Old 06-24-2014, 11:48 AM   #18
Rickie Little
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Originally Posted by Justin View Post
Wow, after a day and a half of voting, most folks on this forum would rather illegally pollute the air with chemical toxins, than put a plastic wrapper or bottle in their pocket, or in their carry-out garbage bag.
Very surprising, and I must say, disappointing!
After all, we're not just talking about paper plates here are we?
Not a great message to send to people. Again, just my opinion.
Goodbye.
Big illeagle or little illeaagle?

How much trash is being burned while camping VS the polution generated by other actions of daily living?

Are we talking about burning a few food wrappers and paper products or am I missing something?
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Old 11-26-2017, 07:53 AM   #19
yardsale
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin View Post
Wow, after a day and a half of voting, most folks on this forum would rather illegally pollute the air with chemical toxins, than put a plastic wrapper or bottle in their pocket, or in their carry-out garbage bag.
Very surprising, and I must say, disappointing!
After all, we're not just talking about paper plates here are we?
Not a great message to send to people. Again, just my opinion.
Goodbye.
The question didn't differentiate what type of trash is burned. I burn paper, food scraps, and pack the rest out, along with other stuff left by others (as has been said earlier).

Also agree with the big picture view mentioned earlier that we should hesitate to pat ourselves on the back for not burning 3 oz of plastic if we have traveled 4 hours to the trailhead in our 13 mpg. truck.
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Old 03-15-2016, 07:49 AM   #20
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I build a fire, dead wood only. Never burned trash, my sites and others have always been squeaky clean since 1972. Come on trash isn't that heavy..
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