Should You Pick Up Your Dog’s Poop?

Should You Pick Up Your Dog’s Poop?

dog Monika Wisniewska/Shutterstock

Back in the day, when you took your dog for a walk, they would do their business, and then you’d keep on walking. It wasn’t until Boomers were growing up and plastic bags were everywhere that people started picking up their dog’s waste. Fast forward 50 years, and dog poop totals about 10 million tons per year (that’s more than human waste in 1959). Dog owners everywhere are determined to keep their yard tidy and are required to keep public spaces clean.

But, there’s a problem—a plastic problem. Americans use close to 1 billion single-use plastic bags per year, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. So, as a responsible dog owner, what should you do? Leave the waste where it lies? Wrap it in plastic and throw it away? Here’s where things stand today.

You shouldn’t leave your dog’s poo where it lands.

Dog waste is toxic. It contains bacteria, viruses, parasites and plenty of other components that pollute water systems. Whenever it storms, those nasty things can travel into surrounding bodies of water, which in turn pollute swimming areas, increase the amount algae and weed growth that makes water murky and green, and alter the amount of oxygen and ammonia, thereby killing aquatic wildlife. The EPA even estimates that two days worth of dog poop from about 100 dogs would contribute enough pollution to close a beach and all watershed areas within 20 miles of it. So, do you need to pick up dog poop? Yes.

Dog waste is not a fertilizer so be sure to pick it up before you mow the lawn!

Dogs are perplexing creatures—here’s why they like to eat their own poop.

But plastic bags aren’t the answer.

When you buy groceries, take out food, or really just about anything from a store you end put with a surplus of single-use plastic bags. While it seems like a great second use of the bag to make it a container for your dog’s waste, it’s actually better if you recycle it. Only about 1% of single-use bags are recycled with the rest ending up in the landfill or the ocean. Okay, so then biodegradable bags are the answer! Well, yes and no. “Biodegradable” is a loose term and manufacturers are taking advantage of it because it’s not regulated. These bags also usually end up in the landfill where there is little light and oxygen (which must be present for something to biodegrade), so they actually end up decomposing slower, resulting in more methane emissions.

So… what SHOULD you do with your dog’s poo?

In an ideal world, dog waste would be used as a form of energy. Some innovators have already found ways to turn waste into “poop power.” In Ontario, they’re piloting a poop collection program and in the UK, poo has been used to fuel lamps. The reality is that this isn’t an option for most dog owners right now so here are a few other options to take care of your pet’s waste and the planet:

If you’re into technology and want your pooch to be too, buy them one of these pet-friendly high-tech dog products.

Conclusion: There is currently no one perfect solution for what to do with dog poo, but hopefully, as innovative solutions remain a currency of success, smart people will find solutions for the dog poo conundrum in the near future.

Buy a dog waste compostable bin now on Amazon.

Buy flushable bags now on Amazon.

Buy compostable bags now on Amazon.

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Hannah Louise
I help people tell stories, whether that's about themselves, their company, or their product. Every project I take on has one priority: make sure the audience connects with the content. I've fine-tuned this skill over the past decade by creating content for audiences from C-suites to new hires in organizations large and small. I launched my career as a generational keynote speaker (think dispelling myths about Millennials/Xers/Boomers) and worked my way to being a principal of a consulting firm and published author by writing, presenting, and editing books, blogs, white papers, and research analysis. I bring my values of collaboration, humility, and research-driven strategies to everything I do. I'm also a cat owner, coffee enthusiast, and new home owner (you know, your stereotypical Millennial traits.)