How do you dispose of dog poop in a zero waste fashion? Is there a zero waste alternative to doggie bags? These are questions that plague the zero waste pet community, and there are a variety of opinions on the matter. I hope to cover some options that will reduce your pup’s waste–at least the plastic kind.
DON’T JUST LEAVE IT!
Just leaving your dog’s poop right where they drop it is not a good option. While it may seem like the most environmentally friendly, zero waste option to just let it decompose, this can actually pollute waterways via storm drains and runoff, which are not treated. Aside from being a common courtesy, you’re helping the planet by picking up after your dog.
REUSE OLD BAGS
One common solution to the dog bag problem is making use of pre-existing plastic bags. Whether you use bags from products you can’t find a zero waste option for, a slip up at grocery store, or bags sourced from friends and coworkers, this is definitely a good option. However, I don’t believe it is the most environmentally friendly option. In the end, you’re still wrapping something which can degrade in plastic, preventing it from returning to the earth.
There are some dog waste bags which claim to be water soluble so that you can flush them. However, all of the ones I’ve found have multiple reviewers who have tested them and confirmed they do not dissolve in water–even after a week. Even more people report plumbing problems. I would not recommend these as a good zero waste option.
Another option is compostable poo bags. There are a variety of types, from cornstarch bags which closely resemble the plastic bag option to this option, which seems to be a paper bag which you can hold open with wooden sticks. However, you shouldn’t generally compost pet waste. It can carry diseases which aren’t killed in the composting process. If you choose to compost anyways, you shouldn’t use it near any plants you plan to eat. Most city composting programs do not accept pet waste for this reason. You could also throw these in the trash and hope it breaks down in the landfill, but in all likelihood, it will get buried and be unable to decompose. While these are better, I still don’t think they’re the lowest waste option for most people.
Another option is pet waste stations. Depending on the specific type, they may not require a plastic liner inside. Regardless, using one allows you to have essentially a dog poop trash can outside of your home, eliminating smell concerns, so that it’s easy to clean your yard and you can only use one large plastic bag instead of multiple. Some systems are compatible with compostable large bag options, but the same issues with composting pet waste apply. Using one plastic bag for several weeks, especially if you reuse a preexisting bag, is certainly better than using one or two every day. However, this doesn’t solve the problem when you’re on a walk and still usually involves plastic.
One semi-gross option is to pick up the poop with newspapers instead of plastic bags. You do still have to throw or compost the poop, so the same challenges are posed there, but it may cut down on costs.
I personally recommend that everyone flush their dog’s poop. Although you can’t flush cat poop, dog feces is completely safe to flush. You can use a poop scooper both at home and while on walks to pick up the poop and transport it to your toilet. Many models are closed by default, which means you don’t have to hold it closed for the rest of your walk, either. Using this method involves no plastic, doesn’t impact untreated waterways, and allows the water to be treated at a sewage plant safely.
Although there is more than one solution to the dog waste problem, I truly think the most environmentally friendly and zero waste option is to flush your dog’s poop. When on a walk, carrying a dog waste scooper to pick up the poo with until you get home works as well. Although some also use a bag or paper with the scooper to keep it clean, I would use mine without and just hose it down and spray with vinegar solution occasionally. I hope this look at various options was helpful to you. Is there anything I missed?