May 05, 2022 4 min read

One local company, PACT Outdoors, is changing the way we answer the call of nature. Yep, we're talking about poop. 

We caught up with PACT co-founder Noah Schum to find out how they are tackling the problem head on with positive attitude and the help of a powerful, waste-loving fungi.


You guys are helping to tackle a pretty big problem for Gunnison Valley and beyond. What inspired you to revolutionize the way people dispose of their waste in the great outdoors?

This is a huge problem and inspiration was twofold. First is coming at it from the environmental side. If change doesn’t happen, we will see access to trails, camping, and in general, public lands, closed or more regulated. Proper practice, planning, and respect goes a long way to keeping the outdoors open and accessible to everyone. So the question was, how can we help?

The second piece was the product side.We have kits for anything that needs doing in the outdoors: cooking, sleeping, repairing things, you name it. Why, if going to the bathroom is something we all do everyday, does the standard practice involve hacking together products from home (e.g. ziploc bag, half-used roll of TP, garden trowel) that were never designed for the outdoors? We knew we could build something better and put together an all-in-one bathroom kit built for your outdoor adventures.


"If change doesn’t happen, we will see access to trails, camping, and in general, public lands, closed or more regulated."


PACT Outdoors founders Noah and Jake Founders and Crested Butte locals, Noah and Jake


It seems like much of the issue is education: people don’t know how to go to the bathroom outside, and they definitely don’t want to ask anyone for pointers. How does PACT overcome this?

Dave Ochs of CBMBA gave us a great quote early on. He said, “people aren’t malicious, they are just underprepared or uneducated on proper outdoor bathroom practice.”   

The question also hits on exactly what we saw when we conducted asurvey of 25,000+ outdoor enthusiasts. 73% of people reported a time in the outdoors when they had to go to the bathroom but were unprepared to do so. ‘Feeling clean’ and ‘having the right tools or gear’ were the most frequently reported challenges. Only 1 in 10 said, “Nothing. It’s easy for me.” 


"People aren’t malicious, they are just underprepared or uneducated on proper outdoor bathroom practice."


That data helped us build our flagship PACT Kit. The intention was to be able to hand someone a kit who has never done this before and in addition to all the tools, PACT kits have a “how to” info card that will help educate and teach people how to do their business in the wild.


For those of us who haven’t yet watchedFantastic Fungi on Netflix, how does mycelium aid in the breakdown process?

First I would recommend everyone watch Fantastic Fungi. Ha!  From the armchair mycologis explanation, mycelium is the root system for fungi and nature’s great decomposer. PACT Tabs use a species of mycelium to decompose human waste in the ground faster; kill harmful bacteria (including E. coli) that can endanger wildlife, pets, and our waterways; and actually improve the bioavailability of soil.

Additionally, the species of mycelium we use is native to North America and Europe. It’s non-invasive or aggressive, handles a wide range of bioregions and seasonal fluctuations, and has an affinity for colonizing and decomposing both fecal matter and paper products.  

 PACT Outdoors Easy Bathroom Kit

Your blog does a great job of explaining when to pack out versus when to bury. Can you run us through what to do at popular camping and recreation areas in Crested Butte?

The biggest thing we need to stress here is to follow the regulations. In the areas close to CB, burying your waste is approved practice in most cases. However, there are some areas on popular hiking trails close to us (Conundrum Hot Springs, for example), where packing out is required. Pay attention, make good decisions, and don’t make other people or advocacy groups deal with your waste.


Do you have any other recommendations for how visitors can lessen their environmental impact this summer?

There are many companies and advocacy groups that have great recommendations to lessen your overall impact. I would encourage everyone to do a little homework from some of those amazing voices in the outdoor industry.  

From the #basicallyapoopcompany soapbox the biggest thing we can encourage you to do is be prepared. And let us help with that. 


What does PACT stand for?

Nothing. Ha! But we do get asked for that every now-and-then. We probably need to come up with a clever acronym. In fact, we will send someone a free PACT Kit if someone comes up with a good one.  


Here at Chopwood Mercantile, we are always available to help navigate sustainable recreation in Crested Butte. No question is stupid. To join the revolution, pick up a PACT Kit at Chopwood. 

You can also learn more about Leave No Trace efforts in the Gunnison Valley by reading our interview with Crested Butte Conservation Corps (and even better, becoming a sponsor or volunteer). A portion of all purchases from Chopwood Mercantile goes to support these efforts and other non-profits in Gunnison Valley.