Nice to see people arguing about how to leave little trace, these types of threads generate lots of good info. Tom, thanks for pointing out the rock stuff, that's good to know too, and I'm glad you have empirically verified your claims by revisiting sites a year later.
Would be interesting to see that data for under rocks for different climates, dry, wet, humid, alpine, and so on.
Not sure why however you are so opposed to a little .5oz ti poo trowel, those things are nice, I just used it on a 5 day trip in the cascades, it was nice, really helped in the soil up there, a stake would not have done much in that case. Plus it's easy to slice out a circle of the top moss/whatever, put it the side, make the hole, refill it, and put the top circle back on.
The dislike of such things can't be based on the use of unnatural or unsustainable techniques, I mean, we all walk around with some 10 plus pounds of hydrocarbon petrochemical based synthetic stuff on our backs and bodies, right? A trowel like the big dig weighs 1/2oz give or take, it's not some mass of dead weight in my pack, I use it every day. And if I don't, that's fine, I don't always use everything every day.
ti is a good material for these trowels, it's the absolute minimum you can have and still have it be functional. I've dug too many cat holes where others have been before me to relish the notion of scooping it out with my hands, heh.
Now if you want something real to worry about, read this article. That's about how our actual daily lives, and what's required to sustain them, is impacting deep systems in our environment. By the way, I noted what that study said up in the Cascades too, just like I have everywhere else in recent years:
"When I returned a year later, nothing appeared to have changed at first glance. No stumps or debris — just conifers and lush understory. But to the ear — and to the recorder — the difference was shocking. I’ve returned 15 times since then, and even years later, the density and diversity of voices are still lost. There is a muted hush, broken only by the sound of an occasional sparrow, raptor, raven or sapsucker. The numinous richness of the original biophony is gone."
Personally, this is what I am worried about, I've been noticing this more and more, and it's a direct sign of how deeply human culture is impacting stressed wilderness and other less populated areas. I am not worried about carrying an extra 1/2 ounce of material in my myog backpack, to be honest.