After years of being a pet parent and pet caretaker as my occupation, cleaning up after dogs and cats has become quite normal for me. It became apparent while working as a dog walker in the last few years. A well-seasoned dog walker will most likely be able to eat a sandwich with one hand and scoop up poop with the other. Multiple times I’ve actually forgotten that I was holding a bag of poop walking in and out of buildings! Anyone living in an apartment or city setting, who owns a dog understands the need for an Earth friendly options for picking up after their pets. With both Earth Day and National Scoop the Poop Week coinciding, I’ve found some Earth-friendly solutions to cleaning up after your pets! Since we also have to scoop our cats’ poop, I want to include our feline babies in this article. There are two companies that I recommend to cat owners frequently. Years ago I discovered World’s Best cat litter. It comes in a variety of scented and unscented options. The reason it changed my life as a cat parent is that it’s flushable! It’s a corn-based litter that doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals (I buy the extra strength unscented, and while it does come in pine and lavender scented options, cats can be sensitive to those essential oils so proceed with caution). It clumps very well, so I simply scoop and flush. In addition to that, I keep the litter box in my shower, because Simon is a compulsive digger. He makes quite the mess, but then all I have to do is rinse the scattered litter down the drain.
The other great litter is made by Weruva. For years, Weruva has made a great canned food for both dogs and cats. If you pop open one of their cans, you’ll see shreds of actual chicken, sometimes with vegetables or another meat, in gravy. It smells like real food because it is real food. Plus, it’s high moisture content makes it that much better. Then, they came out with cat litter! Not only is their litter flushable, but it’s made from Japanese Hinoki wood and green tea. Both of these ingredients are known to have natural antibacterial properties. The only reason I haven’t switched to Weruva’s Tea Potty litter is that Simon does well with World’s Best and I don’t want to disrupt his routine. I’ve been told by countless cat owners about how great this litter smells. If your apartment is small enough, Tea Potty litter provides a fresh green tea scent throughout your home. What other litter can you say that about?
Both of these brands are free of clay, dust, as well as dangerous and artificial perfumes, so your cats won’t have to suffer with breathing in harsh components while trying to do their business. Of course, you don’t HAVE to flush these litters. Many cat owners use plastic bags to dispose of their cats’ waste, which is why you should continue reading even if you don’t have a dog. I’ve found some great options for Earth-friendly dog poop bags.
If you own a yard, you’re one of the lucky ones. You can spend time with your dog off-leash and skip the plastic baggies for clean up. The most Earth-friendly option is clearly a scooper! Unfortunately, if you’re like me and you live in a small apartment in a big city, then you may need to buy some poop bags. In my personal, everyday life I make a great effort to produce the least amount of trash, and that includes decreasing how much plastics I use and throw into the garbage. Plastic bags can take about five to ten years to break down once we throw it into a landfill. Our pets are not going to stop pooping any time soon, so the best way to make a difference in the future of our environment is to find other solutions for scooping the poop!
There are so many companies out there that claim to have biodegradable bags for pet waste clean up. The trouble with this claim, however, is that in order for the plastics to break down, the composition of additives in the plastics need the proper amount of oxygen to do so, and that is not guaranteed when thrown in a garbage bag and then into a landfill. It’s a nice effort, but it does not seem to be the best solution to this issue. I was recently handed a paper poop bag when I took a friend’s dog out to do his thing. I hesitated at first because I hadn’t seen a paper poop bag before that day.
In my research, I found a couple of paper bag options for pet clean up. The first is made by K9 Clean. There are no plastics in their bags, and if used properly you don’t have to feel the warm poop through the bag at all! Why not just use regular paper bags then? Well, they make their organic paper bags with sturdy flaps at the opening. In order to pick up the poop, you open the bag and pop it over the poop. Then you slide the harder flaps under the poop and flip the bag over, and ideally you have yourself a little to-go eco-friendly baggy of poop. If you have a large dog, the bigger poops may be difficult to scoop up. If I’m being honest, I’ve used two bags for a big dog poop before, so if that’s going to happen I would prefer to use two paper bags! The only scenarios I imagine this product can be difficult to use would be during tummy upsets and in tall grass areas.
Another paper-based poop bag company that I came across claimed that their product is flushable. This seemed like a great idea for about thirty seconds. If you have an indoor dog that poops on a pad or a dog that has accidents inside, I find it silly to buy a flushable bag when you can just pick it up with toilet paper and flush. Similarly, if I don’t want to collect my dog’s poop just to bring it inside and flush it, instead of using a public trash receptacle. Plus, as I read further about this poop bag, I realized it is a plastic bag with a paper bag inside, to make it easier to pick up the poop and then flushing the paper bag down. My interest with this option faded pretty quickly. I’m sure there are more paper poop bag options out there that are plastic-free.
I know what many of you are thinking – paper bags sound messy. It very well could be for some, so I have also found some Earth-friendly plastic bags. The first company I want to talk about is BioBag. They make a variety of products that provide compostable alternatives for plastic bags. I actually use their compostable food scrap bags to contribute my food scraps to local gardens to make compost. BioBag uses a resin made from GMO free crops to create their bags, rather than using petroleum-based plastics. The result of a safe option for disposing of pet waste, as well as your own food scrap waste. The bags feel delicate and thin, but are actually pretty durable. I highly recommend this company.
BioBag is not the only company that makes compostable bags to clean up after our pups. BioDOGradable Bags is USDA Biobased certified company that makes dog waste bags, as well as cat waste bags, diaper disposal bags, and shopping bags. With the push to do away with single use plastic bags, this company provides a great alternative. The Original Poop Bags® claim that they make a compostable pet waste bag as well. The accuracy of that claim aside, they make their bags using plant-based materials, including corn, vegetable oils, and compostable polymers. The last company I’m going to highlight is Flush Puppies. Flush Puppies claims to be certified compostable, as it should be if you’re going to flush it down your toilet. They make their baggies from PVA (polyvinyl alcohol), which is water soluble, allowing it to break down in your septic system. The company even quotes the United States EPA on their website in a statement explaining that flushing your pets’ waste is “the best disposal method.” This makes sense, since I’ve already discussed flushing my cat’s waste. I’m not sure if carrying the poop bag around during your dog’s walk and then bringing it home to flush is a popular option, but it is certainly an option. Always check to make sure your plumbing and septic system is suitable for flushing down these poop bags.
The benefits of using plant-based plastic bags include, but are not limited to, reducing the damage plastics have done to the environment and reducing our own exposure to chemicals found in plastics. For those who use and plan to use earth-friendly bags, I only caution not to dispose of compostable waste bags into food scrap composters. You do not want to include pet waste in food compost. However, using compostable and biodegradable bags increases the breakdown of those materials, making it safer for the environment. Furthermore, diet also plays a factor when discussing pet waste. If you’re concerned by the qualities of your pets’ waste, they could have sensitivities to something they are eating. Many people, myself included, who have switched to feeding raw, gently cooked or high quality canned foods, have noticed that their pets’ poop is smaller, plus a big reduction in the smell. If you think your pets’ poop is indicating a food intolerance, we can test for food sensitivities using only 10-15 strands of hair!
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