As a dog lover and an earth lover, I naturally try to find ways to take care of my dog in a environmentally-friendly way. This led me to research the most environmentally responsible way to dispose of doggy-waste. It just feels wrong to think of those thousands of dog poops neatly packaged in plastic baggies and sitting for years in a landfill! On my quest for cleaner dog-waste disposal I talked to waste experts in my area of Marin County California. I spoke with my garbage collection agency, the Humane Society, the sewage treatment plant and water utility.
Let's break it down. Here are the current methods of disposing of dog poop:
Baggies & Trash: The problem with using baggies to dispose of dog poop is of course that most of them are made of plastic and plastic does not degrade and is made of nasty petrochemicals. Even many "biodegradable" baggies are actually made of a mixture of cornstarch and plastic that will degrade into a type of plastic powder which has found to be harmful for the environment. Look for biodegradable baggies that say they are compostable and you know you found a plastic-free bag. You could also try picking up poop with newspaper while on a walk. The other problem with poop bags is that they cost money! I have found that I can re-use mamy baggies that are not otherwise recyclable like cereal box inner bags for picking up dog poop while on a walk.
Scoop & Trash: Scooping the yard and putting dog poop in the trash can work pretty well. Environmental agencies warn about leaving poop in the yard for more than a day or so as if it rains the bacteria can run off into the water supply depending on where you live. It can also attract and feed flies and rats. And of course, poop in your trash bin can get pretty gross and you will most likely want to use a liner of some sort. Luckily they do make biodegradable trash bags as well.
Scoop & Flush: Scooping and flushing is the best method I have found so far for me. I simply pick up the poop from the yard in a small bin and bring it inside to flush. You may want to check with your local water treatment center to see if it is okay before you begin flushing your dog's poop. Mine (Marin County, CA) said that it is okay but not to flush cat poop. I asked about the new flushable dog waste bags and the sewage plant operator said that he tested the new "flushable" bags and said that they do not work well and can clog pipes. I have also seen some devices that make it possible to flush the poop right into a sewer clean out on your property.
I have studied quite a bit on composting or burying poop and this can be done but the trick is to make sure you are not close to the water table as it is difficult to be sure that the bacteria will not run off into the water supply.
How do you dispose of your dog's waste? Do you have any other ideas for us?