Oh what to do with doggy doo!
No more plastic bags, so what do we do with doggy doo?
Like many others, I re-use the “single-use” plastic bags for many other jobs, such as carrying things to work, collecting fruit from the garden, lining the kitchen bin, and picking up dog waste, but with the bags being made illegal here in NZ, our supply of dog poop bags is going to dwindle away to nothing over the next few years, or in my house, next few weeks.
We already have the option of biodegradable waste bags, but unless we use these correctly, then it’s no better than using normal plastic bags, and some are not as biodegradable as they claim to be. One of the good brands that we’ve been using are the Beco Pets bags and this company have now expanded their range further to include a range of compostable poop bags, which is great news, but still, if you throw biodegradable bags in with the normal trash and they end up at landfill then they won’t degrade very quickly at all. It takes 3-6 months for these bags to compost in compost bins, so at an open landfill it could be several years. We need to find better ways of disposing of the bags, and the poop.
How should we dispose of dog poop to create zero waste?
We can’t put animal waste in with the normal garden compost, but you can compost dog poop if you do it right and don’t use it on your vegetable garden.
If you put biodegradable bags in the compost, they will take 3-6 months to break down. An alternative is to use brown paper bags, compostable bags, or just a shovel and throw it in without a bag.
First off, you need a separate compost bin just for animal waste, and clearly mark it as such. You can make your own using these instructions.
The main difference with composting animal waste is that you need to ensure higher temperatures are reached, so a higher amount of dry carbon based composting material is used, i.e. sawdust, paper, cardboard. The high temperature kills any pathogens making the compost safe to use on most garden areas, however, science is still not sure if roundworms are killed by the high temperatures, so do not use the compost created on vegetable gardens.
The basic mix is 2 shovels of sawdust to 1 shovel of poop, and rotate regularly as with normal compost.
Update: We've recently a flyer from Gubba who are now stocking the Ensopet Pet Waste Composter made by ZingBokashi. So if you don't want to build your own, this would be a good option.
Doggy Doo Waste Digesters
A long time ago in the UK, we had an in-ground doggy toilet. We shoveled poop into the underground toilet via an opening at the top, liquid was added that digested the poops, then the lid was closed to keep in any temporary smell before digestion completed. It was pretty much smell free and worked well for all 16 years of our dog’s life. We had a dog poop free garden, no nasty smell, and never needed to put bags in the bin. To make it even easier, we trained our pooch to use one area of the garden close to the bin, so the rest of the garden remained free of dog landmines, making it safe to run around barefoot.
You can make your own waste digester, or there are loads of companies out there making and selling dog toilet solutions that will get you started, for example Doggie Dooley who have been around for 40 years.
Useful links/more information
More info on biodegradable plastic:
NZ available compostable poop bags:
More info on composting dog waste:
Instructions to make your own pet waste digester/in-ground dog toilet: