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When nature calls, he answers

Woodbury resident and 3M engineering supervisor Greg Ledo hopes his invention -- the Biffy Bag -- will be the answer for outdoors enthusiasts in need of a easily-portable toilet system. - Staff photo by Hank Long

Greg Ledo is a scientist. He also happens to have a passion for the outdoors. So it was only natural that his work and play would intersect at some point.

And did they ever.

The Woodbury resident and 3M engineering supervisor recently put the finishing touches on an invention he believes will be a useful device for many outdoors enthusiasts who know what it's like when nature calls when there is no bathroom facility in sight.

It's called the Biffy Bag. And if you know what a Biffy is then you have no trouble envisioning the purpose of the device which Ledo officially describes as a personal disposable toilet system, or in other words "a complete toilet that fits in the palm of your hand."

"I'm always thinking about ideas for new inventions, but none of them really panned out," Ledo said. "This one did."

The tag line for Ledo's invention is "Biffy in a Jiffy." The product, which is small enough to carry in a purse or store in a tackle box, is a device Ledo said he knows will come in handy for campers, long distance runners, and hunters, who spend many hours in nature and don't have a proper place to "do their business."

Ledo said he's talked to many conservation organizations and state and national parks staff who admit that they tend to see problems associated with campers who dispose of their solid waste by covering it with dirt.

"A lot of people like to call it 'digging a cat box,'" Ledo said. "But the bottom line is that it's something that park rangers have said is an issue. I think my device can help solve that problem."

Ledo's invention is something he worked on in his basement workshop for the last few years during his spare time away from his workplace.

Although the Biffy Bag is not the only hand-held, one-time use, disposable human waste device on the market, Ledo said he feels the device is the best product available, because of its no-nonsense approach and its effectiveness in cutting down on the stink issue, which is solved by a super-absorbent powder he said makes for a more sanitary disposal. The only issue that now remains for Ledo is how to promote to the product.

Marketing at the county fair

To date, Ledo has limited his marketing of the Biffy Bag to a few outdoors and conservation organizations as well as family and friends. But the inventor is planning to bring the Biffy Bag to the masses at the upcoming Washington County Fair.

"I've got a booth set up and I'm hoping to just get the word out there, and hopefully sell a few," Ledo said. "It seems like the fair will be a good venue to do just that."

Although the Biffy Bag is simple to use, he said the process for creating the product was not.

"I'm not gonna lie, the material research for this product was tough," he said. "People don't want to have to deal with the smell of solid waste, so I did a lot of work trying to find powders that could really absorb any and all of the stink."

Ledo said his family has gotten quite a kick out of his invention, although he said his wife, Barb, is not fond of the discussion topic.

"Any time it comes up, she just says 'I don't want to talk about it," Ledo joked. "But the kids have been pretty enthusiastic."

"I've always thought of myself as a problem solver, and I think this does the job."

For more stories on the people and events that make up the Washington County Fair, look for the county fair special section in the July 29 print edition of the Woodbury Bulletin.