A simple break down of different bags for the eco-conscious pet lover.
Dogs are a man’s best friend-- the quintessential American pet, famous for fetching our slippers, being honorable and protective, and far too lovable to quantify by any system of measurement. There are nearly 90 million registered dogs in America, as well as many other unregistered ones. According to the US department of agriculture, the average dog excretes approximately .75 pounds of waste per day, which is more than the average person by nearly three times! So why is it that human waste is disposed of in a much more efficient, cleanly, and environmentally friendly way than dog waste is?
Having a dog is great, but no one likes cleaning up after dog waste-- you have to bend over and pick it up, stop in your tracks and touch it nearly directly with your hand, as well as carry around a smelly plastic bag until you get home. This is neither particularly sanitary, efficient, or pleasant for dog owners, yet we’ve been doing it just the same for such a long time! There is a huge overlap amongst people who care about the environment and people who care for and love their pets. Eco-friendly dog beds and foods are all the rage, and it seems as though you can find dog waste bags in any different variation you can imagine. There’s biodegradable, compostable, flushable, and of course, traditional plastic. Obviously, these have different pros and cons, but what are the real differences?
Flushable dog bags are perhaps the newest trend amongst eco minded pet owners. They can be flushed down the toilet, just like human waste! These, of course, still have the gross factor of needing to be carried around, and generally cannot be composted with other compostables. Flush puppies is a popular brand whose main detriment is their limited compostability. This can be annoying if your dog regularly has large enough waste to make flushing it all down your toilet in a bag a problem for the plumbing. It’s hard to imagine plumbers being pleased about finding a sealed plastic bag blocking your pipes.
The classic plastic bag is sturdy and reliable, but far from eco friendly. It is estimated that plastic bags will take over 500 years to break down in a landfill-- and this includes those filled with dog waste. While they may be the most classic and well known way of collecting your dog’s poop, they are far from the most environmentally friendly!
Biodegradable and compostable bags are a bit trickier, as they’re the most difficult to differentiate from each other. In summary-- biodegradable items can be broken down without oxygen, but can take longer to decompose. Compostable items need oxygen to break down (which also helps to stop it from stinking as much) but generally decompose in a much shorter time of just a few short months. Both are similar, but a compost bin can be easily kept in your backyard, while a biodegradable pile would pile up and up before it was ready to be reused. Both are good-- but neither are useful without a proper composting area, as they will rot just like everything else in the still air of a landfill. Many people keep compost bins in their yard, or bring compost out to the curb in it’s own bin-- some parks and dog parks are even starting special bins that hold compostable doggie bags.
Overall, there are some differences that come down to personal preference when it comes to disposing of your dog’s waste, but try to remember just how much waste your dog produces when you choose how to dispose of it! Eco friendly is always the way to go, whether that mean flushing, biodegrading, or composting the bags.