When one thinks about waste and what to do with it, there is one issue in particular that seems to plague a majority of the population, namely dog owners. Given that the average canine generates over half a pound of feces every day, this can create a significant waste management concern. Essentially, every dog owner is asked to contend with approximately 250 pounds of waste each year. And while it’s true that the majority of dog owners take their responsibility to clean up after their pet seriously, what’s not as clear is exactly how they do it. Even though there are a variety of differing opinions on the subject, the issue doesn’t get a lot of air time in the world of waste management. And yet, the fecal matter of dogs is rife with pathogens such as Giardia, salmonella, and E. coli. If not handled properly, it has the potential to pollute resources and contaminate the ecosystem. So, let’s get to the bottom of it once and for all: What is the best way to dispose of your dog’s poop?
One approach that owners take to deal with dog waste is to do nothing. Animals are part of the natural world and, therefore, their waste should somehow just break down and disappear, right? Wrong. If left uncollected, this foul material can actually harm the environment. If swept to the side of the road, dog poop can eventually make its way down into the sewer system, where it can pollute waterways and possibly create algal blooms in rivers and lakes. If your pooch leaves feces on the front lawn, it can’t stay there either because it will likely be tracked around on someone’s shoes and introduced into the home. These options don’t offer much of a solution, and they are a sure-fire way to upset your neighbors.
Compost or Bury It
If you are a resourceful, you likely have a home compost. However, your pup’s fecal matter cannot be tossed into a compost because the bacteria-breaking heat involved does not get high enough to kill the germs. Yes, there are ways to create a special compost pile dedicated to dog waste, but they are labor-intensive and must be watched carefully. Most people simply don’t have sufficient time, know-how, or energy to focus on their dog’s incessant waste. And for those with a passion for technology, there is the option of installing a doggy septic system, specially designed to break down fecal matter in a buried bin filled with water and powdered enzymes. While the process eventually converts the matter into organic material, there is a small problem. The systems are pricey, require special installation, and do not work in cold weather below 40 degrees, which makes them impossible to use in well over half the country.
Scoop It Up in A Bag
If left to their own design, most dog owners will simply grab the feces in a plastic bag and toss it in the trash. Boom. Problem solved. However, given that most eco-conscious people have generally shunned plastic bags, what stands in its place? Of course, biodegradable bags can be purchased at local pet shops, and they will theoretically break down into harmless organic matter, but not even these environmental baggies can decompose quickly enough in a sealed landfill, which makes the added expense of buying them kind of pointless. They will just sit in the landfill along with all the other buried, problematic trash. But wait—flushable pouches are also available for purchase. They dissolve in water and could theoretically be dropped in the toilet along with their contents. This is not a terrible idea, as the offending pathogens will be well-handled by your municipal sewage system. However, there’s a catch. The bags are hard to find and expensive. Since you will likely use anywhere from three to six a day, this option is cost prohibitive for most.
Treat It Like Human Waste
Regardless of the bag you use, dog poop cannot be recycled, nor can it be dropped into your “yard waste” bin. These options can be disastrous and are nothing but problematic for waste management sites. So, if we want to avoid plastic bags, outrageous expense, pollution of waterways, and unnecessary labor, the best thing to do it simple: scoop the feces with some kind of reusable shovel or trowel and toss it right into the toilet. Flush it just like you normally would, and you are done. The material goes where it should, and you don’t have any plastic material left behind to contend with. That is, hands down, the most eco-conscious way to handle Fido’s daily deliveries.