Reducing Plastic Use: The great poop dilemma
This article as originally posted April 2018.
For those of us committed to the environment, it’s easy to quit a lot of our single-use habits. Trade single-use coffee cups for a thermos, go-mug, or just a regular jar. Paper towel? How about a regular cloth towel? But there’s one single-use plastic that is often overlooked.
How do you solve a problem like dog waste?
You’ve seen the signs all over Vancouver: “be a good neighbour!”, “kids play here”, “please pick up after your dog” are some of the more polite ones. So you bag the waste, and throw it in the nearest garbage can, the streets are cleaner and you feel good about it. In 2018, being a conscious consumer means thinking about what happens to the waste after you happily throw it in the trash.
Did you know that Vancouver discourages the disposal of waste in trash? It’s listed as prohibited but they allow small amounts in cans, preferably double-bagged. Animal waste in trash is hazardous to staff, and emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Though we’d like to imagine it breaks down in the landfill, that particular environment lacks the oxygen and water necessary for decomposition.
Now that we know the issues with the standard form of dog waste pickup, we can talk about solutions! Please note that many of these pick-up options are easiest to do with small, hard poops, just one of the benefits of feeding a raw diet. Kibble poops are likely to be large and soft, making disposal messy and stinky.
Now onto our options. Let’s break the process down into two steps: the pick up, and the disposal.
Flushable poo bags like these from doo-n-go are made from PVA, the same thing used in laundry pods. It breaks down in water, and is safe for sewer systems.
Beco Bags or Earth Rated compostable lines are degradable, they’ll break down in industrial compost in under a year.
Note - biodegradable bags can’t just be thrown into the forest! And remember, biodegradable does not necessarily mean compostable.
Reusing the same poo bag once you’ve disposed of the waste inside. You can try bringing along a bunch of newspaper or a bucket. We’ve seen some owners train their dog to go directly into the bucket, reducing the amount of handling necessary.
If you’re lucky enough to have a yard, you can always use a shovel.
If you opt for the flushable bags, or reusable receptacles, you can flush it down the toilet. Remember with flushable bags, don’t tie a knot in it.
There are several dog poop composters on the market, or you can make your own. The resulting fertilizer can be used for ornamental gardens, but do not use it on or near your vegetables. It contains bacteria, nitrogen, and salts that are harmful to plants and people.
If you’re too busy or squeamish to handle the doo yourself (hey, it’s not for everyone) you can hire a waste dispensing company like Scooby’s. They pick up and dispose of your waste in accordance with government guidelines.bIf you live in a townhouse or apartment building you may cost-share with your neighbours, so this is an especially good option.