What to do With Poo: Green Solutions for #2

Lea Jaratz

 I promise this will be the most informative article you read about poop all day.

Most of us think about dog waste as a disgusting downside to pet ownership, and a serious inconvenience if stepped in. Most people will clean up their dog’s droppings if they fall in someone else’s’ yard or where someone might step in it. That’s just the right thing to do. (I intentionally avoided a pun there. You’re welcome.) But how many of you pick up the poop if it’s in a vacant field or off the path in the woods? Dog poop isn’t just an inconvenience on the bottom of your shoe. It’s a hardship on our environment.

  • The average dog creates 12 oz. of waste per day.
  • The average pile contains 3,000,000,000 fecal coliform bacteria, which is 10x more than cow manure.
  • Dog poop can also contain e. coli, salmonella, giardia, and worms.
  • The waste can easily run into groundwater and can feed algae blooms in lakes and ponds.

So, now that you know the environmental hazards of poop, here’s what you don’t want to do:

  • Don’t put poop into storm drains or into bodies of water. That just fuels the problem.
  • Don’t put poop into regular composting. The germs won’t be killed by the compost process.
  • Don’t use poop as fertilizer. Carnivorous dogs just make acidic waste (thus the lawn burn).

Which bags are best?

You can reuse shopping or newspaper bags to clean up poop. This is the quick, cheap, and easy option. The downside is that they can take up to 200 years to break down. If you’re better at remembering to bring your own bags to the store than I am, you might not have a stockpile to use up, in which case biodegradeable bags are a great option. Another advantage to these is the compact refills clip right to your leash, so you won’t forget when your dog is in a panic to get out the door. However, even these corn-based bags can take a while to breakdown in a landfill, so no need to feel guilty about just using what you have handy.

Q: Isn’t that bag of poop still going into a landfill?
A: Yep, but it’s bacteria will stay out of the waterways.

If you really want to do our landfills a favor, flush instead. Whenever possible, you can toss the waste right into the toilet. You might use a flushable bag, but make sure your septic system and municipal waste department can handle it.

If flushing isn’t feasible, you might invest in a small septic-style  dog waste disposal (like the one pictured above). All you need to do is shovel the waste into a buried septic device to be broken down, neutralized, and dispensed into the ground. This can reduce the environmental impact and spare your lawn some unsightly spots.

Poop happens. But, how you manage it can make all the difference.

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