Dog walks are great carbon free exercise, but don't leave behind Fido's droppings to contribute to eutrophication in our waterways.
I’d say nine out of ten times it involves the accidental step in dog poop. You’re running late for a meeting, jogging on the beach, or just taking a stroll in your neighborhood, and suddenly you the realize you’ve ruined your new shoes and that the man cringing his nose beside you is looking your way.
It would seem that the easiest solution to this problem would be for pet owners to pick up after their dogs; however, did you know that experts estimate of the 10 million tons of pet waste produced annually in the US, 4 million tons are left unattended?
Besides the fact that it is just plain gross, the environmental impact is monumental.
Consider two environmental problems:
Eutrophication- The first involves the effects of non-disposed pet waste. In this case, dog poop can be considered a non-point source of water pollution. It is eventually picked up by storm water and eventually sent into our waterways. Healthy waterways absorb CO2 and help to offset everyone’s carbon footprint.
The result is a process called eutrophication where the fecal matter causes an influx of nutrients to our waterway causing algae blooms – highly toxic to aquatic life. Not only is this dangerous to the ecosystem as a whole, but most of these lakes and streams (EPA) are made up of the very water we drink.
As a respectful member of your community you should be picking up after your dog anyways, but if you tend to forget, consider that somewhere between 10-20% of our water pollution comes from neglected pet waste. There are 72 million dogs and 81 million cats in the U.S..
The second issue involves the properly cleaned up waste. Kudos to the pet owners who successfully clean up 6 million tons of poop each year. However, this means that 6 millions tons of poop are placed into millions of individual plastic bags, only to sit in a landfill for years on end.
While our waterways may be safe, this does not mean that we are in the clear. In order to eliminate an easily avoidable plastic waste problem, pet product companies have gotten pretty innovative and created biodegradable dog poop bags.
Bio-degradable Pet Waste Bags
At poopbag.com, their products are made from a combination of corn and other renewable resources that will biodegrade between 60 and 90 days of use. A 3-month supply costs around $29.99 with deals depending on quantity. They have also come up with a great product called Flush Puppy – a flushable bag that makes your dog’s waste as disposable as your own. A three-pack (45 bags total) runs around $16.99. A little pricey for dog poop, but if you treat your pet as if it was your own child (you know who you are), you may want to invest in these easy to use products.
Also try Ecoanimal.com for different price options.
I love my dogs as much as the next person, but I most certainly don’t want yesterday’s kibble flushed into my drinking water. Try buying these biodegradable dog poop bags and stay educated about the great composting options in your town.
This is probably one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Just one small step to keeping our planet from going completely down the toilet!
Important Note: whether you use biodegradable bags or not will make no difference if they are not disposed of in either your sewage system or through your local commercial composting site that accepts this type of waste. Do not compost in your compost file – the protein in the waste will attract undesirables.
Curiously, many landfills are so airtight that not even an apple core will degrade. Luckily, it is easy to go online and find your local composting provider.
Recommended Bio-degradable Pet Waste Bags:
A few other Green Blizzard thought-provoking articles:
- Cozy Winter Fires – Carbon Impact
- The Joy of Raking Leaves
- Mass Transit: Shrink Your Carbon Footprint
- UPS Green
- Is Composting Worth the Time and Money?
- Planting Trees to Offset Your Carbon Impact