A discussion was already in progress as I joined my husband around the campfire this week. He seemed to be mumbling, “No, no, no,” under his breath. By the time I settled into my lawn chair, I, too, was thinking, “No, no, no.” Folks were talking about the proper handling of food scraps.
Almost every meal has some scraps. It may be a bit of leftover milk in the bottom of a breakfast cereal bowl or bacon grease left behind on the griddle. Sometimes it’s a piece of fat, trimmed off a steak, or the stems removed from the top of strawberries. Other times, it’s liquid resulting from boiling and draining vegetables. How do responsible RVers dispose of these food scraps?
Toss it out
Steve was talking. “It’s organic, so we’ve always just tossed our food scraps outside on the ground.” This news elicited both frowns and disgusted murmurs around the fire. Those who disagreed said, “It may be organic, but not all human food is good for animals to eat.”
“Besides,” Judy spoke up, “the food will draw all kinds of flies and bigger pests like mice to your campsite! I don’t want either one near my RV, and neither do you!”
Frank joined in, “There are bigger pests to worry about, too. Like raccoons or coyotes. Besides, if animals become dependent on your discarded food scraps, what happens to them once you leave the RV park? The next campers in your spot will have to deal with them!”
“Then is it okay to dump scraps down the pit or vault toilets?” Steve wanted to know. (These non-flush toilet systems or outhouses are often installed in remote places for the benefit of hikers or tent campers.)
“That’s a strong ‘no’ as well,” Judy explained.
Frank suggested, “I’ve seen some folks burn their food scraps. Bacon grease can really get a good fire going!”
Judy rolled her eyes. “In my state (Illinois), the EPA lists food and associated packaging as ‘waste that should never be burned.’ They must have their reasons.”
Truck bed or cab
“Look,” someone else suggested. “Put it in a garbage bag, seal it up, and keep it in your truck until you make a trip to the campground’s garbage box.”
“It better not be in the bed of your truck,” Frank said. “Raccoons and other critters will find it there if it’s just in a regular garbage bag.”
Hmm. As far as storing it inside the truck cab, make sure all of the doors are locked. Check out this video.
“Is it okay to bury food scraps?” Steve asked. “If I dig a ‘cat hole’ a distance away from my boondocking spot and make sure to completely cover the scraps, will that work?”
“I think an animal would still detect it,” Judy opined. “Their olfactory sense is so much stronger than ours as humans. And if they sense it, they will dig it up and eat it, even if it isn’t good for them.”
If you think it’s okay to put food scraps down your kitchen sink, think again! Your RV does not have a garbage disposal like the one in your stix-n-brix home. Food—even small bits—will accumulate over time and could cause a clog and/or unpleasant odors. Read my article about RV sink and shower drains here.
Your RV toilet is not a good place to dump food scraps either. The chemicals you put into your black tank are not designed to break down food scraps. Scraps can cause clogs within your drains and hoses.
Do this instead
- Plan meals so that you have very little or no food scraps at all.
- Think: “Dual usage.” We freeze water in freezer bags for the cooler. Once we arrive at the campsite, the water thaws and we reuse the bags to contain food scraps.
- Take foods out of their original packaging to reduce garbage. Put food into odor-proof bags or containers.
- “Pack it in. Pack it out.” If you have food scraps, plan to take them with you to a secure and dedicated garbage box or bin.
If you have additional tips or tricks for dealing with food scraps, share them in the comments below. And while you’re at it, tell us, what do you do with your food scraps while you’re RVing?
Last time in “Around the Campfire”:
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