Better Doggie Bags
Want Not, Waste Not
The New York Times estimates that 78 million dogs produce more than 10.6 million tons of dung annually. To tackle the growing problem of unhygienic doggie doo-doo, about which USA Today reports, “At some beaches, dogs help raise bacteria levels so high that visitors must stay out of the water,” operators of Allan H. Treman Marine State Park, in Ithaca, New York, started a project in 2009 to compost the waste in its dog park.
Plastic bags that don’t decompose easily end up in landfills, so park officials began placing corn-based, compostable bags in dispensers. A local company, Cayuga Compost, picks up the waste weekly for processing and deposits it into a pile mixed with yard and wood waste at a nearby composting site.
In 18 months, the company composted 12 tons of dog waste from the park. Lab tests have shown that the compost is pathogen-free and has a high-nutrient profile that is perfect for flowers, shrubs and trees. Cayuga Program Manager Mark Whiting calls it a great example of upcycling—taking something that is otherwise considered worthless and turning it into a product with higher value.
Note: ZeroWasteUSA.com and similar entities provide complete sustainable systems for pet waste disposal; biodegradable bags are widely available at retail.
Natural Awakenings' Webstore offers biodegradable and compostable dog waste bags.