There’s no getting around it. If you own a dog, you’re going to be picking up a lot of poop.
Scooping poop isn’t anyone’s favorite task, but for eco-conscious dog owners, it can present an environmental dilemma.
You have to get rid of it somehow, but finding an eco-friendly way to pick up dog poop can be tricky.
Let’s delve into the options for zero waste dog poop disposal below. From at home digesters, to eco-friendly dog poop bags – there are more green ways to dispose of dog poop than you may think!
Why do you need to dispose of dog poop anyway?
You may wonder why you even need to dispose of this natural waste in the first place. Even if it’s not the law (and in many places it is), you should always pick up you dog’s waste because of the pathogens and nutrients it contains.
Bacteria and viruses from poop can end up harming both humans and animals. Nutrients from pet waste is considered non-point source pollution by the EPA and causes excess algal growth that disrupts ecosystems. At this point, there are too many dogs on the planet for the earth to be able to take care of things naturally.
What’s wrong with traditional dog poop disposal?
If you’re a bagger and tosser, you’re not alone, but plastic bags are far from a good solution.
These plastic dog poop bags can leach chemicals into the land and water, harm wildlife, contribute to greenhouse gas production, and break down into harmful microplastics.
The bits that don’t break down will last for hundreds of years. Consider how many of these bags are being used by dog owners day in and day out. Surely there must be an eco-friendly way to dispose of dog poop!
How to Dispose of Dog Poop the Green Way
The best way to dispose of dog poop at home depends on your situation and how much time and, unfortunately, sometimes also the money you have to invest.
Composting Dog Poop
Composting dog poop is possible, but it’s a bit more involved than just throwing the dog poop in your regular compost bin.
Because of the pathogens in dog waste, you must compost it separately from food and maintain a high temperature. You should also never use the compost on gardens with edible plants.
Maintaining high temperatures is difficult for most home composters, but luckily you can buy composting units specifically designed to help you compost dog poop safely. Such as this Pet Poop Worm Composter from EarthEasy.
These units, often referred to as a ‘digester,’ function as a septic system to break down dog waste into a liquid that is then absorbed into the ground.
This option doesn’t work well for all types of soil, but it’s a great zero waste dog poop option for those willing to go the extra mile.
Flushing Dog Poop
Hold up, can you flush dog poop?
Sometimes, but it depends on how your wastewater is treated, so make sure you check with you local facilities first.
Reusable scoopers or shovels are a good option for bringing waste from where your dog does his business to the toilet, but you might need a reusable dog poop bag, like this one, for walks.
– What about flushable bags for dog poop?
Flushable dog poop bags, like these, are made of PVA, or polyvinyl alcohol, a substance which dissolves in water. PVA is typically used in the medical and cosmetic industries and for things like laundry pods.
So far, this substance seems to not cause harmful effects (it’s even approved as a coating for supplements), but as a synthetic material whose effects are still being studied, consider whether you really need to use a bag at all.
If you have a modern plumbing system, these can be a good option.
What About Earth Friendly Dog Bags
Many brands claim that their bags are compostable or biodegradable, but do these claims really hold up? What are the most eco-friendly dog poop bags?
Paper Eco-Friendly Dog Poop Bags (Purchased)
Purchased paper bags or dog poop boxes will break down more easily and less harmfully than plastic. Search for options that are made from sustainably-harvested trees for the least amount of environmental damage.
Bags Made from Recycled Plastic (Purchased)
If you don’t have anything lying around, consider purchasing bags made from recycled plastic waste. In the end you’re still throwing away plastic, but this will result in less plastic going into landfills overall.
When it comes to biodegradable and compostable dog poop bags, be sure to do your research, as there’s a lot of deceptive labelling. Search for something designated “home compostable.”
Even though many bags claim they will break down, the reality can be that they will only break down under certain conditions that won’t be achieved if you simply throw them out.
Look for bags made from maize flour and vegetable oil or PVA (the flushable ones mentioned above) and avoid oxo-biodegradable bags, which only break down into smaller pieces of plastic.
Dog Poop “Bags” from Paper Recyclables
Paper can be a hygienic and earth-friendly option for picking up poop. Use a few scraps of newspaper or other paper you have lying around or source waste paper from your school or office. This is probably as close as you can come to truly zero waste dog poop bags.
Dog Poop “Bags” from Non-Recyclables
We all get stuck with non-recyclable plastics (even old plant pots) from time to time, whether from packaging, a friend or relative, or our past habits. Give non-recyclables a second life by using them for poop disposal.
With this option, keep in mind that avoiding plastic in the first place whenever you can is still the best practice.
An Alternative Future: Biogas Street Lamps
Malvern Hills in England boasts street lamps powered by – you guessed it – dog poop. Invented by engineer Brian Harper, dog owners can place their pet’s waste into a biodigester to help fuel these methane-powered lamps.
While these are not yet common, this solution is one to keep an eye on and maybe bring up to your parks and recreation department to see if your city can get these as well!
Eco-friendly dog poop disposal can be as simple as using recyclables or as involved as building your own mini septic system.
Whatever you choose, it’s sure to be better than throwing away endless single-use plastic bags, and you can quell that twinge of guilt knowing that you’re making a healthier choice for you, your pet, and the earth.
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