“Leave No Trace”, Using Bio-degradable soap in the Wild

 By Richard Plunket
VP of WSC Conservation

There’s a myth surrounding Bio-degradable soap, and that is that it magically disappears.

There has been a lot of new, or renewed interest in the great outdoors recently. Even before Covid changed the way we travelled and spent our free time. Whether you’re fishing streamside or a high mountain lake, just camping, or living in a van collecting content for your social media presence. Everywhere I look I see this mistake being made.

While Bio-degradable soap is a great choice, it’s still soap, and should never be introduced directly into a water source. A quick Google search can give you all the science. It requires contact with soil and time to biodegrade before it can safely enter our waterways. It needs to go into a hole away from any water source or delicate plant life.

Most of this new generation of outdoors people are very environmentally conscious. Especially concerning plastics, but this message doesn’t seem to be getting enough airtime. In the backcountry it’s more important than ever. Many small streams and high lakes are such fragile environments in this regard. With more and more people spending time there this ranks right up there with “toilet paper blooms” and we simply need to do better.

My hope is that we can educate as many people as possible. Even if it’s one person at a time.

I was raised with “Leave No Trace” and it was always instilled into me to leave a place better than I found it. I can’t remember who said it, but I heard someone say “lets start with not losing any more” and save as much as we can. Our privilege of wild places comes with the responsibility of being good stewards, may it always be so.

Note from editor: I did a quick Google search and found these links that will really explain the importance of why you don’t put any kind of soap, bio-degradable or not, directly into our streams or lakes. Look them up.

Muskoka Watershed Council:

Watershed Blog The Great Outdoors Stack Exchange:

Cascada Travel:   › Blog › Sustainability

Biodegradable literally means that the ingredients used in the soap can be broken down naturally by bacteria, rather than remaining in the soil. A soap is … › biodegradable_soap › Frequently Asked Questions using biodegradable soap from