Educo Africa is a youth development organisation that has been running programmes with young people from historically disadvantaged communities since 1994. There are two main aspects to their programmes. The wilderness aspect provides a platform for young people to discover their inherent potential. Wilderness courses run for 5 to 9 days and focus on leadership and personal development. Once back from ‘the mountains‘ they offer a youth movement to support young people in living their potential, with a specific focus on social and environmental well-being.
Educo Africa operates in wilderness environments throughout Southern Africa. Their programmes have a strong emphasis on experiential learning. The ‘outdoors’ is the classroom. A partnership with Cape Nature enables the use of the Groot Winterhoek Reserve near Piketberg.
Coming across used discarded toilet paper in the outdoors is never pleasant. You can imagine what The Groot Winterhoek Reserve would look like with 700 odd participants moving through it a year if they didn’t take out all waste, especially used toilet paper.
For the past few years Educo Africa has been using GreenHome’s environmentally friendly toilet paper. They started with the famous ‘brown roll‘ and now use the sugarcane equivalent. Most importantly, they teach participants to bring all their toilet paper back out of the mountains.
They follow the ‘Leave no Trace Principles‘, an international standard, that advises how to leave nothing in the reserve. One of the important aspects is the Disposal of Human Waste.
The principles around the Disposal of Human Waste states:
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 10-15cm deep at least 20 metres away from water, camp and trails.
- Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Carry out toilet paper and hygiene products.
Before entering the wilderness, each participant is briefed on the process. They are required to take a plastic bag to keep their used toilet paper in and return back to basecamp for disposal.
To make it fun, Educo Africa teaches students about two small spades to dig the holes called “Dug the male” or “Dugalina the female”. When you go to the toilet in the mountain, you take Dug or Duglina, and a plastic bag with you. In the journal books there is a page of different positions on how to do your business in the bush.
On return to basecamp, all the toilet paper from the participants is collected and disposed of into a bio-digester system together with the other organic waste and recycled into compost.
It is their commitment to act as a role model in the importance of looking after natural surroundings and to leave no trace.
Would you commit to a leave no trace policy next time you’re in the bush and you need to go?