What To Do With Doggy Poo
Guide to Responsible Disposal of Dog Waste
What is the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of collected dogpoop? Read below and see my comments at the end of Victoria Atkinson’s article.
My thanks to Victoria for allowing me to re-publish this article.
Apr 5, 2008 Victoria Atkinson
Dog poo is an increasing environmental burden washing dangerous bacteria into the water supply. There are alternatives to throwing a smelly plastic bag-full in the bin.
Everyone loves their dog but no one loves dog poop. These little mines are smelly, unpleasant and difficult to eliminate. Disposal of pet waste is an increasing burden on both pet owners and the environment. The Washington State Department of Ecology (WSDE) estimates that with increasing dog ownership an area containing 100,000 people generates 2.5 tonnes of feces per day, which totals 2 million tonnes per year. The current US dog population is over 80 million which adds up to a staggering amount of doggy poop entering the environment.
Dog waste contains large amounts of bacteria such as Escherichia Coli (E.Coli) and Salmonella which are washed into waterways and oceans, causing contamination and potential human infections. Parasites such as Hookworm and Roundworm can live for years in soil where dog poo has been left to degrade, leading to further animal or human infection.
The collection, bagging and disposal of doggy poop is unpleasant enough, but what then? Whilst most people are unhappy throwing poop into the waste bin, most are unaware of the alternatives.
Bagging It Up
The environmental blight of dog poo is only worsened when it is bagged into plastic, another non-degradable environmental scourge. Consequently it all spends years in landfill as a smelly breeding ground for bacteria and disease, which eventually leaches into the water system.
Some pet owners have started placing pet waste in biodegradable bags which are freely available in supermarkets and pet stores. Paper bags are a simple biodegradable alternative but can prove difficult to use. Plastic bags are now available using biodegradable materials such as polyethylene or cornstarch, the latter of which can be composted for better breakdown.
But placing any plastic bag full of waste in landfill is far from ideal. According to the Australian Government’s Department of Environment , the benefit in using degradable plastic bags is questionable as they may not breakdown in the dry, oxygen-starved conditions found in most landfill, and if they do, may produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
According to Pet Habitats.com, bags can be made from water-soluble material allowing them to be flushed down the toilet. The dog poo can then be treated along with human waste at treatment plants before being released into the water system.
(If your dog produces large piles, if you use bags from Pet Habitats above, they claim you can flush them without worrying about blocking the toilet. Carol, Green Village Green)
Give It Away
Dog poo collection services are available to clear your yard of little parcels, and pick up pre-bagged waste. Be sure to enquire into their disposal method as having someone else deliver your dog waste to landfill may be more palatable than binning it yourself, but it is no less harmful.
The extent of this problem has led scientific entrepreneurs such as Doggie Doo.Com to invent dog poo digestion units which are buried in a corner of the yard. The dog poo is then placed into the unit and soaked in a ‘natural’ enzyme solution. This in turn digests the waste leaving an odorless, harmless residue to soak into the soil below. The exact content of such solutions remain commercial secrets but the premise appears plausible.
Worm Farm Compost
The most comprehensive, environmentally-friendly and cheapest solution to the puppy poop problem appears to be the humble worm farm. Composting worms are housed in a simple box and are fed on lawn clippings, dog hair, kitchen scraps, and of course dog poo. The worms remove any odor and convert this organic waste into worm castings; a nutrient-rich organic fertilizer.
Worm farms come in many sizes and can be bought from any hardware store. Alternatively, they can be made at home by following simple instructions as found at Sustainability Victoria.
One important note; do not place dog poop in the worm farm straight after worming your dog; the medication will kill your worms.
Dog poo disposal is an increasing environmental problem, but with a little thought and planning cleaning up after your dog can benefit not burden the planet.
Copyright Victoria Atkinson. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.
As a qualified cardiothoracic surgeon and an unqualified mother of 1, there are always many ripe and interesting topics on which to muse. Medicine is my occupation but writing and motherhood are my passions, so being able to write about my passions and interests is an incredible buzz.
I currently live in Australia but have worked in heathcare in the USA, Australia and the UK over the years, and one thing is clear no matter the country or the hospital, no one likes to be ill and everyone is scared by the acute loss of control being in hospital brings. I hope that by providing some insight into the workings of a hospital, as well as illnesses and their treatments and the mindset of those treating patients, I can help to make the whole process more transparent. Knowledge of what is going on around you as a patient can bring great confidence and peace of mind.
Whereas I have trained for 20 years in medicine, my journey into motherhood has been more of a 2 year crash course! From pregnancy to breastfeeding to tantrums and sleep deprivation, I have found that the only rule of motherhood is that there are no rules! I began writing of my own experiences and have been writing for Australian parenting magazines 'Practical Parenting' and 'My Child' (mychildmagazine.com.au). I enjoy the feedback from exhausted mothers who may have found a smile or some information amongst my articles.
As one of only 4 female cardiac surgeons in Australia and New Zealand, I have also gleaned some interesting perspectives on being a woman and a mother within the workforce. Sexism can be more occult in the professions but no less venomous.
I hope you enjoy sharing my journey!
Again, thank you, Victoria! You really got me thinking!
If you dogophiles would like to dispose of your dog's poop responsibly, and want the easiest method possible, look for Doggie Blog #3 coming soon. And check out the GreenVillageGreen Shop!