The Cairngorm Snow White Facility

12th Oct 2018

The Cairngorm Snow White Facility

It is no secret that the Cairngorms is a very special place.  Along with stunning mountains, beautiful forests and tranquil lakes and rivers, the area is also host to an array of incredible flora and fauna.  It is a place of immense beauty and yet it is also under constant threat.  There are many ways it is at risk and it would need a book (or probably several!) to analyse all those possibilities, but this little blog post is all about the threats that come from human poo!

Hundreds of people like to head up in the winter months to various Cairngorms sites, dig an overnight shelter in the snow and sleep there (if you haven’t tried this it really is a lot of fun!).  This in itself isn’t a problem, but can issues arise because some of these people will need a number 2 during their stay.  

The only viable option may seem, in a landscape covered in snow and with frozen ground, to be to dig a hole and do the business in there.  Once the hole is covered over again there is nothing to see and all is well.  Except that, once the season’s turn and the snow melts, there are piles of poo and paper that are both an eyesore and a risk to water sources and the unique flora that inhabit the area.  It is a messy problem and the growing popularity of sheltering is multiplying the issue further.  

Fortunately, the solution couldn’t be simpler. If all the people visiting that snowy landscape packed out their waste the issue would no longer be an issue.  That is what the Cairngorm Snow White Facility (formerly called the Cairngorm Poo Project) is all about.  Overnighters can, free of charge, borrow a sealed plastic tub (which comes with a supply of biodegradeable waste bags) from the ranger base and then, once out in the wilderness, all they need to do is poo in one of the plastic bags, seal it up and pop it into the poo tub.

Then, once the tub is brought out of the wilderness, the contents can be dropped into the special waste bins at the Ski Area car park and the tub returned.  If the tub has been used the rangers ask that it is left in the container by the waste bin to be cleaned ready for reuse.  If they haven’t been used they can be returned straight to the ranger base (make sure you get that the right way round!).

It is a brilliant initiative which, although it has been around a while, is still not known about by many people.  Hopefully, as word continues to spread, more and more people will play their part in protecting such special places.  Of course,  although I have used the example of Cairngorms snow holing the same principle can offer a great solution to wilderness users at any time of year and it would also be great to see it becoming the norm in all our wilderness areas.  Oh, and getting the hang of pooing into a plastic bag doesn’t take long - we suggest taking some sheets of newspaper which can be pooped onto and then rolled up and popped into one of the bidegradeable bags.

Posted by Paul