5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Dispose of Dog Poop
There are so many advantages to having a furry four-legged friend in your life – unconditional love, long romps in the countryside, eager tail-wagging whenever you walk through the door – we could go on all day!
The one thing you probably don’t enjoy so much? Cleaning up after your pooch.
We get it, just the basic act of poo pick-up isn’t fun! But for responsible pet parents, it’s a small price to pay for the overall joy our pups bring us. Proper dog waste disposal is important when respecting the countryside and keeping our outdoor spaces safe for both public and environmental health.
However, there’s a further foul thought lurking in the background. If you care about sustainability and are working towards reducing your family’s single-plastic use, then what about the daily bagging of your dog’s poop in plastic bags that are simply destined for landfill? Is there a sustainable solution to this poop problem?
Here at Dog Rocks, we’re passionate about the natural world and maintaining it for future generations to enjoy. So to help you navigate the world of eco-friendly pet waste disposal, we’ve gathered our best tips for you in the article below!
What’s the Problem With Traditional Dog Poop Disposal?
Dog poop needs to be responsibly disposed of – there’s no question about that. Apart from being an eyesore (and pretty pongy), dog poo poses a significant health hazard if it finds its way into local waterways. Plus, when left to fester, it can also attract parasites and spread disease, including tapeworm, roundworm, E. coli, and even salmonella (to name just a few).
So by bagging and binning your pet’s poop, you might already assume that you’re doing your bit. By all accounts, it’s 100% more responsible than simply not picking up at all.
But what about the question of plastic poo bags?
Poo bags neatly resolve the issue of pet waste in the short term. However, the long-term effects are not so squeaky-clean. Every time we throw a plastic poo bag in the bin, we’re effectively preserving faecal matter for eternity – sending it to a landfill site where it will sit for thousands of years because it’s unable to decompose.
Even degradable bags can be made from plastic, which only break down into further damaging microplastics over time. This includes oxo-degradable plastics which are destructive towards the environment. Whilst many manufacturers are starting to move away from these materials, it’s definitely worth checking what you’re purchasing.
How Not to Dispose of Dog Poop
Before we get to eco-friendly dog poop solutions – a few words of caution on what not to do with pet waste, as tempting as these ‘solutions’ may appear.
Bag & abandon
Abandoning poo bags on countryside trails or hanging them on branches is not only an eyesore for those that come after you – they can take years to biodegrade when not left in the right conditions. And even then, they may never fully decompose (particularly if they’re made out of plastic)!
Burning dog poop is far from pleasant for both your and your neighbour’s nostrils, but it can also release harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. There are plenty of other, more sustainable solutions that you can carry out in your backyard, without the need to resort to burning.
Flushing dog waste down the toilet may seem like a fair solution – after all, we flush our own waste this way, so what’s the difference, really? Well, it can cause plumbing problems and is not recommended by most UK councils. Plus, once you’ve got rid of the offending poop, it doesn’t solve the problem of what to do with the leftover soiled poo bag!
5 Responsible Dog Waste Disposal Tips
Now that you’re clear on what not to do, let’s look at how to deal with your dog’s waste in the most effective and earth-conscious ways possible. From composting to septic tanks, there are plenty of natural solutions you can try, which also helps to keep your lawn looking pristine at the same time!
- Flick a Poo
As we discussed earlier, there is no magic countryside cleaning fairy, so it’s a mystery as to why people go to the effort of bagging poo on countryside footpaths to then immediately abandon it. In this situation, when out and about, it would actually be more environmentally friendly and considerate to other walkers to flick the poo into a nearby hedge or bushy undergrowth using a stick.
We’ve taken it upon ourselves to spread the word and fight the good fight when it comes to cleaning up our countryside (and our acts!) with this foul habit. For more information on how to get involved, have a read of our #flickapoo campaign statement here!
- Switch to biodegradable bags & bin it
For perhaps the easiest method, although arguably not quite as eco-friendly as the others in this list, just start by making the small switch to purchasing biodegradable poo bags. These are typically made using a mix of cornstarch and plastic, and will naturally biodegrade in landfill after around 18 months. Importantly, they won’t leave behind any trace of microplastics either.
Ensure to choose bags that are strong, leak-proof, and tear-resistant. Bag up your poop securely and pop it in an outside bin. Simple!
- Use compostable bags and compost dog poop
Composting doesn’t have to be difficult. Essentially, when organic waste (like dog poo) decomposes, it breaks down into a simpler substance that can be used as highly nutritional fertiliser for your garden. This is carried out in a compost bin by bacteria and other organisms. To speed up the process, you need to provide the right conditions for bacteria to thrive. This means plenty of the holy composting trinity: oxygen, moisture, and warmth.
Once you’ve established these three conditions, you can create your compost in as little as a few months. Just note that if your dog is showing any signs of illness or has been on medication recently, don’t use this poop for composting! Follow the below steps to give it a go yourself:
- Buy a compost bin or make your own (you don’t necessarily need a big garden – use a small bin if required).
- Place your compost bin in an area that is at least 3×3 feet and where water can’t get into it. It should also be out of reach of kids and pets.
- Firstly, add a brown layer to the composter, e.g. leaves, straw, and sawdust. This helps to absorb moisture and aerate the pile.
- Then, add another layer of green material, e.g. grass clippings or kitchen waste.
- Sprinkle a thin layer of soil over the top, then add your dog poop to the centre of the pile. You’ll also want to ensure you’re purchasing compostable poop bags so that the whole lot can go in! Just be aware that bagged poop will naturally take longer to break down.
- Cover with a lid to lock in the moisture.
- Don’t forget that your compost heap will need a small amount of regular maintenance – you should turn the compost on a weekly basis and check the temperature is warm enough (around 57-71°C).
- After 3-6 months, you should have a crumbly compost mix that you can use on your plants. You’ll know when it’s ready because it’ll be 73°C – warm enough for any harmful bacteria to have been killed off.
- If you like, mix it with vegetative compost for even better results, but just take care to only use it on non-edible plants, e.g. hanging baskets, flowerbeds and shrubbery. Compost made from dog poop is not suitable for use on plants you are growing to consume.
- Buy or build a wormery
Worming is effectively another way of composting pet waste, which is fairly straightforward to do in your own backyard. Just make sure to keep your dog poop worm farm separate from a regular one for food scraps. To start your wormery, follow the below steps:
- Buy or build a wormery – there are plenty available at garden centres, or if you fancy giving it a go yourself, there are online resources available which will walk you through the steps to build you own.
- Add the dog waste to the wormery, burying it beneath the soil and adding in some shredded paper, cardboard, or leaves.
- Purchase compost worms from your local garden centre and add to the wormery.
- Let the worms work their magic! As with the method above, just make sure to only use this compost on non-edible plants.
- Use a septic tank
If you’re willing to spend a little more, a dog poo mini septic tank is another eco-friendly way to deal with dog poop and save on plastic waste. For a more hands-off method to composting but equally effective when it comes to results, you may find it beneficial to look into.
The basic concept is that dog poop is collected in a tank before being broken down by anaerobic bacteria. This creates a liquid that is stored in a second chamber, which can then be used to irrigate your lawn. Great for busy, on-the-go people who still want to do their bit for the environment!
Help Us to Clean Up Our Countryside by Joining the #flickapoo Movement
As pet owners, it’s our responsibility to properly clear up our dog’s mess. And hopefully, now that you’ve finished this article, it’s also given you some ideas for how you can do so in a way which is good for the planet, too!
Don’t forget to join us over the course of May on our social media channels (find us on Instagram here and here, or join us over on Facebook) to participate in the big countryside cleanup. We want you to share your photos, let us know how many abandoned poops and poo bags you’ve binned, and start necessary conversations with the #flickapoo hashtag within your social circles.
Please also let us know if you try out any of the sustainable solutions suggested in this article. As individuals, we have the power to come together and make a real difference, so we can’t wait to hear from you and see the collective impact we can make!