Two weeks ago, my family and I made a trip to Pennsylvania and came back with a puppy. We had been discussing with my Uncle’s family, about the possibility of getting two puppies for our respective families; 5 days after the idea was brought to the table, we welcomed two new members into our lives.
As the days went by I learned a lot about dogs. Of course, most of the things our beloved Socrates did matched up with what we were theoretically prepared for, but actually witnessing and living through it is VERY different from a theory.
Puppies poop a LOT. They have a high metabolism and they are growing which requires them to have a lot of energy. Because of this, they need to eat more often during the day which then results in more poops. They have smaller stomachs, and we need to feed them in small chunks. Then they go out for their exercise and the cycle repeats… the number of poop bags you use start adding up.
3-4 times a day, multiply that by 30 days a month, you reach about 1440 bags per year. Think about how much nonbiodegradable waste that creates. America’s 83 million pet dogs produce some 10.6 million tons of poop every year, and with the urban norm of picking up your dog’s poop, plastic waste has multiplied since the 50s- back when people didn’t pick up dog poop. The increase was so significant, California considered a plastic bag ban. Just consider the impact.
Often, you’ll see people using the handy plastic bags and dispensers, perfect for taking on walks and specifically made for scooping poops. Depending on the circumstance, there are different ways you can go about sustainably cleaning up your dog’s poop.
Eco- Friendly Dog Poop Bags
Since most dog owners already rely on plastic poop bags, switching to sustainably developed models would be the least disruptive method. The guidelines regarding sustainably created dog bags are vague, so many companies throw on a label saying “biodegradable” or “dissolves,” but the first step is to take the research portion into your own hands.
According to Nikki Collier, LeashLess Lab, make sure that whatever biodegradable poop bags you choose hold themselves to the ASTM and USDA Certified Biobased specifications because they are the coveted standards. The ASTM D6400 specification is the highest badge of honor a product can carry and is given to products that actually compost.
Also check out Compostable.org, a site which compiles compostable products on Amazon and keeps it as a list for your reference.
Pet Waste Composter
Dog poop is compostable, however it requires special treatment and cannot be thrown in with your regular compost pile.
The Zero Waste Pet explains the system: You dig a big hole, “plant” the system, then you add your dog’s poop and a digester to break it all down. A few key points: It needs to be buried far from any edible gardens, and it needs to be far from natural water sources.
One of the most popular pet waste composters is the Doggie Dooley.
Another option is DIY composting. Refer to the USDA guidelines, which includes some of the risks, additional tips, and even a printable tracking sheet to monitor your compost pile.
Flush it Down the Toilet
Yes, you read that right. Dog poop contains similar properties to human poop, and since the majority of water-treatment facilities are equipped for handling fecal matter infused water, the change will do no harm to your water system.
The EPA explains how flushing your dog’s poop is the most sustainable way to go about dealing with it. Additionally, if you are not comfortable with picking up your dog poop with toilet paper, flushable dog poop bags are available. Flush Puppies is a good option, made from Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) – a water soluble alternative to regular plastic. However, this only works if you don’t have a septic tank!
If you’re a guilty longtime dog owner with a reliance on plastic doggie bags, don’t worry! It’s never too late to make the switch to more sustainably options. Start slow with eco-friendly bags, if you don’t want to switch to composting and flushing just yet.
Remember, that these small, simple changes will have long term effects.