What are WAG Bags? Why do I need one? Surely this is something to do with Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy?
Happily, this has nothing to do with footballers’ wives. It’s also more than just a ‘tip’. This is more of a sincere plea to all those who enjoy and love our great outdoors, in particular the mountain environment, to play their part in looking after it.
Poos in the Past
A few decades ago, the standard good practice when wild camping was to take a trowel, dig a hole and bury ‘your business’. Looking back, this was probably never a brilliant idea, but it was the least bad option and there really wasn’t an alternative. The number of people doing this was relatively small, in the big scheme of things so it ‘probably’ wasn’t all that damaging.
Poos of Today
Fast-forward, say, 40 years to today. The number of people using the mountains and hills has exploded. Very few are aware of their impact, and maybe don’t even care. But even among those that do care and want to behave sensibly, there are some more rocky hillsides and mountains where burying anything is not even an option.
Unsurprisingly, the volume of human waste accumulating on the most popular hillsides in the National Parks is growing uncontrollably day by day. Snowdon and Ben Nevis in particular, have been noted and commented on as being extremely unpleasant.
Enter the WAG Bag. These have been around for a few years now but really only as a niche product. It’s time for that to change and for WAG Bags (or similar) to become a normal piece of kit that everyone carries in the hills.
What is a WAG Bag?
In simple terms, it’s a doggy-poo bag for humans.
Why is it called a WAG Bag?
WAG stands for Waste Alleviation and Gelling. A WAG bag contains a powder which is activated by adding a liquid. (Can you guess what liquid?). The liquid solidifies to a gel which starts to break down solid human waste, and at the same time controls odours.
How does the WAG Bag work in practice?
The WAG Bag comes in two parts – an inner and outer bag. The inner bag is larger and contains the ‘poo powder’. It can be spread wide open at the top to receive your offering. A small amount of toilet paper and sanitiser gel is also included, but it’s probably best to take more of your own. Once the job is done, the inner bag can be closed and wrapped up. It is then placed inside the tougher, rip-proof outer ziplock bag which will protect against unfortunate accidents due to damage.
How do I dispose of my WAG Bag?
Once filled and sealed, simply hang your WAG bag from the branch of a convenient tree and the ‘poo fairies’ will collect it in the dead of night.
No – of course you don’t do that. The good news is that the ‘poo powder’ in the WAG Bag neutralises the contents and makes it entirely safe to dispose of in a regular litter bin. You don’t need to worry about extracting the contents at home, or anything gruesome like that.
Alternatives to Carrying Out Waste
Are there, really, any long-term viable alternatives to carrying your own waste out?
- Quietly ‘going’ behind the back of a boulder isn’t a sensible or sustainable option. The ‘poo boulder’ on Ben Nevis is witness to this. Thousands of ‘Three Peakers’ use it, and each one thinks they are the first person to spot the boulder. Imagine what they are standing in in the dark?
- Burying it was the ‘old-school’ good practice, but is frankly out-dated and unsustainable given the numbers that we are talking about.
- But there is one simple, easy, effective and comfortable alternative. Go at home first. Of course, anyone can get ‘caught out’ at the wrong time (hence the WAG Bag), but with a little forethought in many cases it ought to be possible to not need to go outdoors at all.
- The volume of human waste on our most popular mountains is hugely unpleasant and becoming unsustainable.
- Plan your day and, if at all possible, use the toilet before you start your walk. Problem solved.
- Always carry a WAG Bag with you. If you get caught short, use it to safely and easily carry your own waste back to a normal waste bin at home.