Dog poop isn’t just gross. It’s a major ecological catastrophe. Your furry friend’s poop is loaded with nutrients such as nitrate and nitrite, which, although they’re a completely normal part of your pet’s biology, can wreak havoc on aquatic ecosystems. Nutrients in pet poop are responsible for as much as 30% of cases of “cultural eutrophication,” a process that causes entire rivers to experience mass die-offs due to algae overgrowth.
As responsible pet owners, we owe it to our dogs, our communities, and our planet to dispose of pet waste in a manner that is ecologically sustainable and minimally destructive to the environment. Here are a few things you can do to sustainably dispose of dog poop.
1. Compost your dog’s poop. I’m not off my rocker. I’ve been composting my pets’ poo for the last six years and I’ve had great luck with the process. Based on the “humanure” system by Joseph Jenkins, my method for composting doggy-doo effectively eliminates all harmful pathogens and nitrates from pet waste. The resulting compost is completely clean and odorless, and perfect for ornamental gardens. For more information about this method, including detailed how-to guidelines, click here.
2. Use biodegradable poop bags. Conventional plastic poop-bags cause ecological problems as significant as the problems associated with doggy-doo itself. Between the petroleum used in the manufacture of the products and the plastic’s perennial lifespan in a landfill, ordinary doggy poo-bags are an ecological mess. Fortunately, many companies offer relatively sustainable alternatives to ordinary baggies. A few brands worth trying out include BioBags, PoopBags, and Flushdoggy. These are not only biodegradable, but also fully compostable– so stick with these, especially if you choose to compost your pup’s poo. The best place for sustainable bags to fully biodegrade is your backyard compost heap, not your local landfill.
3. Flush it, don’t dump it. If you can’t compost your dog’s poop, that doesn’t mean that it should end up in the landfill (or worse, stay by the side of the sidewalk). Flush your doggy’s poo! It’s always completely unacceptable to flush cat poop, since it may contain a deadly parasite responsible for the death of thousands of sea mammals. However, Flushdoggy bags can be disposed of in your home’s septic system or your city’s sewers, which effectively neutralize the pathogens and nutrients in the waste.
Every living thing pollutes. The production of potentially hazardous waste is part of what makes us alive. While pet guardians can do nothing to eliminate a dog’s natural ecological paw print, responsible owners can take steps to minimize the impact of pet ownership on the environment. The responsible disposal of pet dogs’ feces is critically important for the ongoing health of the planet we share with our furry companions.