Plastic Free July - Day 15: Better Solutions for Dog Poop

Sir Napoleon Bone

Sir Napoleon Bone

“Ewww, gross! She’s talking about poop!”

You must not be a dog owner.

Dog poop is an every day problem, and if you live in a city without a yard, it’s a problem that you HAVE to use plastic for, or else you are the rude person who leaves their dog’s poop all over the grass and/or sidewalk. I’m looking at you Steve! I know it was you and your giant mastiff. Pick it the fuck up, you jerk!

Let year was my first time doing Plastic Free July and I read EVERYTHING I could find about living a plastic free and zero waste lifestyle. I did it all for the whole month and have been doing my best to reduce my waste, my carbon footprint, and my use of plastic ever since. I tell others about it and try to get my husband and friends be conscientious about it.

And then there is Napoleon, cute as he is. And his 2x a day pooping habit.

This is the plastic that will remain in my life and I feel so bad about it, but researching more and more, there doesn’t seem to be another viable option at this time.

Because you see, there ARE biodegradable poop bags. “So Taryn, why aren’t you using those? Sounds like a great idea - no more plastic!” Ah, there’s the rub. You see, in my research I discovered that IF and WHEN these “biodegradable” bags are thrown into typical landfills (they always are) they will not biodegrade. Just like those cool compostable forks and plates and whatever else “sustainable” companies are trying to sell you. You see, in order for these elements to actual degrade/compost, they need proper turning and oxygen and a whole bunch of other fun scientific stuff. Treehugger.com says it best:

“Biodegradable plastics typically consist of starch or fiber-based polymers, using corn, potatoes, or soy as raw materials. They are biodegradable according to a standardized test method in which materials are tended in a moist, warm, and aerobic environment. If they break down 60% or more in 180 days, they pass. But these test conditions in no way represent the end life of most single use plastics. In litter or landfills, this plastic stays around for a long time.

Moreover, because the polymers in more biodegradable plastics lack the same strength as conventional plastics, it actually requires more of the stuff to serve the same purpose. For example, if a supplier wants to ensure the groceries don't break their bag, they need to produce bags with thicker walls.”  Here’s a scientific paper about these types of biodegradable and compostable plastics.  

So…what’s a dog parent to do? This Rover article has some ideas and shares some brands that meet the criteria for breaking down - but again, only if properly disposed of!!

This is one where my takeaway is just to be more diligent and understanding that just because the packaging says that it is earth friendly and it claims to be compostable, doesn’t mean that it is.

So for now, I am throwing around 2 plastic bags full of little dog poop into the garbage everyday. I want a better solution, but I also can’t have it take up a ton of extra time or mean that I’m bringing Napoleon’s poop into my home.

I’d love to hear how others are combating this issue! Let me know in the comments.