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Cleanup Concerns
Subject: Another Bacterial Concern
Date: 7 May 1999 11:30:28 -0700
Newsgroups: alt.gathering.rainbow

This is another subject concerning bacteria. It is a serious issue to those who do cleanup, especially recycling. Hopefully it can be discussed without folks feeling the need to turn it into some sort of joke or source of humor.
Although ideally bags of garbage dropped off at recycle stations should be presorted, this is rarely the case (about 25% are presorted). What this means is that volunteers must open bags and sort garbage. Everyone I've ever asked who has done this task, agreed that the scariest, most disgusting, most threatening to their personal health, were bags containing, used kotex, tampons, and other assorted feminine vaginal hygiene products. These bacteria and viral laden products present a very serious health risk to anyone with open cuts (which are almost impossible to avoid if you are doing cleanup) In all the literature we have about camping, health and sanitation, etc. I have never seen any suggestion of how to properly dispose of these products when in the woods. I think it's way past time this issue is put on paper and suggestions, options,advise,rules, guide or whatever one chooses to call it be offered to those who don't know what to do with these products. There is no reason to keep putting cleanup crews at risk in this way. I personally have no solution, perhaps put these products in the slit trenches?

<< Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 16:27:05 -0400
From: "Citronella"
Citronella responds:
Pack in IN, pack it OUT.......... in it's own separate container, such as doubled heavy ziplock bags, perhaps a large yogurt container, or ........ To me this comes under the general heading of each person should be responsible for her or his own garbage. Same goes for used condoms, disposable diapers, etc.
My inclination would be against putting this kind of stuff in the slit trenches, with the *?possible?* exception of very-well-buried tampons (not applicators, definately not mini-pads or whatever), especially if they are made of cotton.
I've always chosen to deal with that stuff in the privacy of my own camp, with it's own separate sealed container, as well as the things I need to wash up. I think that's the best course. A water bottle with one of those "sports caps" makes a pretty good little mini-shower for small areas, and you can leave it the sun to warm it up if you like.
To all women, I strongly suggest to *plan ahead* if there's a chance that you will start your period at the gathering. Planning to have whatever you think you'll need, such as extra clothing, a way to wash yourself and clothing (AWAY FROM THE STREAM), a plan for the trash you will create, something to hang up for a little privacy screen if you like, vitamins, chocolate...... okay! I'm getting carried away here! Planning ahead can make all the difference in your comfort at the gathering, and feeling comfortable is way morphun.
Uh, oh yeah, and it's kinder to the clean-up folks, too!
Citronella >>

Anyway, this is a real problem and perhaps others have suggestions for both disposal solutions and where/how to distribute the info to not put them in bags headed to recycling.
--------- s

Date: Sat, 08 May 1999 01:17:49 -0500
From: Sky Ryder
I just have to say that that sounds absolutely disgusting. It seems logical to me that if you need such items, you should bring something to put them in, separate from other trash (on a hot day such items sitting in an open trash bag sure would reek, I would imagine).

<< x989@aol writes:
Thanks, I see you are the only one replying to this thread, part of the problem with this issue, folks don't really want to confront it. >>

Perhaps bring something like the plastic bag from an eaten loaf of bread, something that would otherwise be thrown away, toss it in & tie it shut. It seems that if those who use tampons opt for the brands composed completely of biodegradable materials, they could just drop them in the shitter. Pads generally have some plastic, some kinds of tampons have plastic applicators, these don't sound like items that should go into the slit trenches, correct me if I'm wrong. It seems to me that everyone has the responsibility to properly contain & pack out such items that present a biohazard to others -- even if you know for sure that you have nothing contagious or dangerous, how does the person sorting even know who it came from, much less know for sure that you are safe?

<< x989@aol writes:
Disposal is the issue, your suggestion of separating is fine, however as you have pointed out, this is nasty stuff and most folks don't want it around their tents or to keep it the entire week or so they are in the woods, so they tend to just throw them in a mixed bag of garbage. >>

<< Citronella writes:
I maintain that each person should keep her own super-sealed container, such as at least two layers of plastic bags twisted shut, or a large yogurt container, or ziplocks, and keep it tucked away in a relatively cool place within her camp, and pack it out when she leaves.>>

Until we can educate everyone of this danger, what can we do to make the task safer? Would heavy duty work gloves prevent the cuts that put the cleanup crew at increased danger? After all, I wouldn't feel too safe handling even the beer bottles from A-camp or food packaging that wasn't rinsed (ie. crusty cans from tomato paste) with cuts all over my hands. Are there any reasonably priced rubber or plastic gloves that could stand up to the task of protecting folks without being cut & ripped?

<< x989@aol writes:
Education and some type of disposal method is the question. Perhaps taking used products to CALM for placement in their red biohazard bags, which eventually go to the nearest hospital where they have the proper burning facility?

<< Citronella writes:
NO (respectfully, but no nonetheless.) I think we should move away as much as possible from solutions that allow people to rely on someone else to carry out their garbage (with the *possible* exception of recyclables redeemable for money to assist the clean-up effort.)

<< x989 writes:
Side note here, to dispel a myth: recyclables do not generate funds for cleanup, but rather the cost of transporting them from the remote locations we use for gatherings not only eats up any money value paid, but actually costs us money. Wally and I having paid the last $200 last year out of our own pockets, plus using our own trucks for the hauling, we can attest that recycling is a debit movie. >>

All that energy that would go into obtaining and hauling the red bags and educating people about it could instead be put into encouraging the use of earth-conscious feminine products and each person packing out and dealing with her own trash . >>

Rubber gloves, even the most expensive ones don't last long (2 days) doing the recycling job, and to be honest, most years during cleanup there isn't the $ to buy them. >>

Sky Ryder

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