So, here I am banging on about “Going Green” but I haven’t even giving the carbon pawprint of my furry friend a second thought. Apparently owning a dog is similar to
owning having a child in terms of waste produced (I personally don’t think the similarities end there!) so I guess it’s time to audit the pooch! First on the agenda is poo…
Poo is a daily reality of all dog owners. We’re forever scooping the poop and most of us are bagging it and binning it. But all those little “poo bags” go straight to landfill, and it’s filling up fast. Poo is a problem. It carries bugs – Toxocara parasite and E.coli bacteria are the most well known but there are all kinds of bacteria, fungi and viruses in that little pile and it has to go somewhere…
Biodegradable Poo Bags
A quick google search finds all is not equal in the world of bio-degradation! But, all in all I find BioBags to be the degradation winner and they can be purchased in both the UK and US. However, rumour has it, even these little corn bags find it hard to degrade in landfill conditions!
Even supposedly “biodegradable” items don’t really bio-degrade in low oxygen landfill conditions.
So with this in mind, if you have plastic bags which are going to landfill anyway then reusing them one last time for dog poo may not be such a sin? Personally, I’ve been using the plastic wrapper from loaves of bread. In our house these would have ended up in the bin anyway! Of course if you’ve achieved a zero waste house then (well done) this won’t seem like a sensible option at all.
There is no green option for putting poo in the bin.
Flushable Poo Bags
My first reaction was “no way” but I’ve researched it and, yes, flushing dog poo down the toilet does seem like a pretty green option. Water companies don’t seem to have any problem with dog poo entering the water treatment plant.
Of course we’re still talking about using bags but these little bags break down in water as you flush. I guess it might be risky on a long walk on a wet day! If you have a big dog there might be a risk of blockages but generally that doesn’t seem to be problem. The bags are made from polyvinyl alcohol which apparently degrades and doesn’t have any negative effect on the environment but presumably there’s oil involved in the manufacturing process so they can’t really be entirely green!
The ultimate option in flushable poo seems to be to install the DoggyBog straight into your waste pipe outside. This avoids the problem of traipsing into your bathroom with your poo bag and does sound convenient. If you’re scooping poop in your garden then you can avoid bags altogether!
If you are so inclined you can embrace a dog poo wormery. But, the bugs remain and the end product can’t be used on your veggies or, in my opinion, anywhere children are likely to be playing. There are various wormeries on the market e.g. Earth Essentials, Original Organics. I’ve never used one so can’t review them. There are very hit and miss reports on the web but if you have a use for the end product, have time to do your research and maintain it properly then there’s no reason why not.
Remember a wormery is for life, not just for Christmas – it’s made of plastic!
Composting has similar drawbacks to wormeries (minus the worms!) in terms of the end product still containing harmful nasties. You can’t just add the poo to your usual compost bin either but it’s not hard to set up a dog poo composter if you have a garden. To be fair it’s not really composting- more like a septic tank. It’s essentially a bucket sunk into the ground and once you add an activator/digester the poo breaks down and leaches into the nearby soil. Be careful where you site the bucket!
A budget composter doesn’t have a huge set up cost and web reviews seem quite good but it is made of plastic:-( The need for an activator is a bit of an eco-worry -the little plastic bags of bright blue chemical don’t look very natural to me!
A better, albeit more costly option, might be the Doggy Dooley. They even have a steel version and their digester powder is a “non-toxic, harmless mixture of natural bacteria and enzyme cultures”….it’s not blue! Overall, this looks like a pretty good option!
There’s no perfect option. Scooping poo into a bin doesn’t seem to ever be an eco-friendly option no matter what fancy biodegradable bags you use. Wormeries are fine but I get the impression they are more prone to failure. I’m most impressed by the DoggyBog and Doggy Dooley. I’d love to hear from anyone using these options. I wonder if there’s potential for them to be used in kennels and vet clinics?