How to Dispose of Dog Poop the Green Way
Zero-Waste Pet Care Guides

How to Dispose of Dog Poop the “Green” Way: The Ultimate Guide to Eco-Friendly Pet Waste Management (Part 2)

Dealing with doo… it’s one part of loving a dog!

ICYMI: Part 1 was all about how to dispose of cat litter the “green” way! In part 2, we’re tackling all things dog waste with an emphasis on dog poop because, let’s face it, there’s a lot of it, and it can be a big problem.

How to dispose of dog waste: The ultimate guide to eco-friendly pet waste management

TheZeroWastePet.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. 

Dogs generate a lot of waste.

Let’s start with urine: Think about all the wild animals going in the wild… that stuff gets filtered through the ground and run into natural water supplies… which is one reason why you generally shouldn’t drink water straight from a natural source, but lest we get further off topic the main point with urine is there’s an issue with quantity.

Dogs kill plants and grass largely because of how much they pee, not because of the pH of their urine. We want plants to thrive to mitigate the myriad other environmental problems, so when it comes to dog urine, the best offense truly is a good defense.

Here are 3 environmentally-friendly ways to manage dog urine:

  1. Plant hardier grass. Same goes for plants, shrubs, and trees. Find varieties that can withstand the onslaught. They might take longer to root, but it’ll be worth it long-term.
  2. Pick a pee spot. Train your dog to go in one place consistently. Here’s a tutorial on the training basics. Then, you can craft this space to be environmentally-responsible with specific plants or special gravel to filter the urine. This also comes in handy with managing poop, which we’ll get to in a minute!
  3. “Dilution is the solution to pollution.” Trite, yes, and over-simplified, sure. And, in this case, it works. Water where your dog goes to dilute the urine. Piece of cake if you have a pee spot! This is also a great chance to use up your gray water if you have dog bowls you empty out, leftover suds from washing your pup in a basin, and so on.

So, you have your pup’s pee under control! Way to go! Now, let’s move onto the bigger issue…

Eco-Friendly Solutions to Dog Poop

OK, so dogs poop. Well, everybody does, but not everybody goes outdoors. Or in the quantities that dogs do. In fact, the quantity issue is a big one (pun only sorta intended).

Why?

Because there are a LOT of dogs in the world, and–if trained properly and not medically restricted–they all go outside. A lot. And, if left behind, dog poop contaminates groundwater. And, if picked up in a plastic bag, dog poop sits encased in plastic in some landfill for all eternity.

So, there are three main disposal options to cover with some pros and cons of each: composting dog poop, throwing it away, or flushing it. Let’s dig in, shall we?

Is dog poop compostable?

If you’re a composter (yay! go, you!) you’re probably bristling about the idea of tossing in dog poop. Here’s the thing: Dog poop is compostable BUT it needs special treatment. You definitely don’t want to scoop the poop and toss it on your regular compost pile. Dog poop contains pathogens that can contaminate a regular pile that you don’t want to then use in your garden.

Instead, there are two good ways to compost dog poop:

  1. Purchase a specific pet waste composter. The Doggie Dooley is arguably the most popular. You dig a big hole, “plant” the system, then you add your dog’s poop and a digester to break it all down. A few key points: It needs to be buried far from any edible gardens, and it needs to be far from natural water sources. That makes it challenging for many people because it requires a specific yard. However, it’s quick, easy, and effective once installed.
  2. DIY composting. This PDF from the USDA has literally everything you need to start composting dog waste, including some of the risks, a ton of additional tips, and even a printable tracking sheet to monitor your compost pile. Even though their thorough advice provides everything you need to know, it’s important to remember that this compost still can’t be used on crops meant for consumption. This is just for soil, decorative beds, and so on.

Can you flush dog poop?

Maybe.

According to the EPA, flushing dog poop might just be the most eco-friendly way to handle it. However, there are concerns about wastewater treatment plants not being able to process the pathogens found in dog poop. The EPA says dog poop is no worse than human poop, so there’s that.

I strongly suggest you Google your town’s policies or give ’em a call. I googled my county’s policies, and they actually had a fact sheet readily available that suggested flushing the poop (their top suggestion) or burying it in your yard with specific instructions on how to do it. Barring those options, the third recommendation was to scoop and toss.

Of course, there is a drawback: You can’t flush the bag, so you either need to scoop into a bag on your walk, then dump it into the toilet to flush (and toss the bag, of course) or scoop it from your yard in toilet tissue, which… could be… problematic for the handler.

Biodegradable poop bags FTW?

So, what about scooping in a biodegradable bag to toss?

That’s a better option certainly than scooping in a plastic bag where it’ll just sit forever in a landfill, but… it might not be much better.

In fact, several years ago the FTC warned of mislabeled poop bags citing 20 manufacturers for labeling bags as biodegradable that weren’t.

Ugh.

Bottom line: Biodegradable poop bags are a convenient option, which sometimes you just need. If you’re out backpacking or walking or visiting friends, you might not be in position to compost or flush the waste. In those cases, a biodegradable bag made from corn is the best possible solution. And, TBH, it’s the one we rely on in our house. Check out Earth Rated bags for our top pick.

A few other things to consider:

  1. Accidents. They happen. Even if it’s not a poop or pee accident, dogs puke. So, how do you deal with indoor messes? Follow the same protocol as outlined above, but be sure to use tree-free paper towels for clean-up. We LOVE (and have a discount code to) the brand Who Gives a Crap? <— click on my affiliate link to get $10 off. We order TP, paper towels, and tissues from them. Then, make sure to clean up any mess left behind with something safe for your pets and the planet. (BTW, if you sign up for the free 7-day challenge, you get a free eco-friendly cleaning guide that has everything you need to know about cleaning in a budget-, earth-, pet-, and kid-friendly way!)
  2. Your city might help. Progressive cities and states offer solutions for eco-friendly dog lovers. Check out this list to see if your state or town is represented or call up your city council (that’s what they’re there for) to ask.
  3. Volunteer. Animal shelters generate lots of waste. Sign up to walk dogs (or scoop litter boxes) and ask if it’s OK to bring your eco-friendly poop bags!
  4. Be the poop fairy! Make a tremendous difference on the health of your local groundwater supply by picking up errant poop you spot while out walking. I make an effort to scan the area where my dog goes for extra piles while I have a bag open (there’s always at least one, unfortunately).

There you have it: Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about eco-friendly dog waste disposal!

Now it’s your turn: What questions do you have? Are you looking for a solution, either DIY or to purchase, that you could use some guidance on? I’m here to help! Leave them in the comments below!

Finally, if you want to take this a step further, join our 7-day email challenge where we tackle together one simple eco-friendly swap or change at a time. Small steps add up to huge impact. Join us here! 

5 Comments

  • Adrian Jones

    It’s a good thing you talked about several ways on how to be able to get rid of dog poop because it’s grown to be a considerable problem especially with how improperly-disposed waste can contaminate not just groundwater but can make people sick too. One way to help reduce the load of cleaning up against dogs is to pick up after them when they go in public because there are bacteria in dog poop that can potentially get other animals sick as well. If I had a chance to help reduce doggy doo when I’m out and about then I would at least pick up after those who don’t dispose of their dog’s business afterward.

  • lma210

    I’ve just read your article about safe / biodegradable ways to dispose of dog waste (poo, pee, emesis), which I found by searching for whether or not it can be added to the compost. While reading it, I had a thought worth sharing and recalled the ABUNDANT amount of waste on the grounds of the local SPCA. I have three dogs (2 young yorkies and an older maltese) so cost steered me to the SPCA’s clinic for yearly exams and shots after becoming a widow. Last summer I was at the clinic approx 3 times in a 5 week period with 2 of them for non emergency issues and the summer before that, I was at a local veterinarian’s office approx 10 times in a 6 week period (my initial visit was an emergency after hours with 1 of my yorkies and I chose to followed up with the same vet for continuity because of the nature of the injury). Also, I’d like to note that the injury occurred less than a month after being at the SPCA with all three of my dogs for their yearly exams and shots. Naturally, I walked the grounds before going inside each office on each visit and again before leaving; I remember thinking about the big difference in the appearance (maintenance) of the two properties. Going green is a huge topic everywhere you go these days with many programs supported by the local government so seeing poo in various stages of decay scattered all over the SPCA’s grounds was a huge surprise; my dogs were disappointed too. There were no baggy machines
    (free or otherwise) or signs directing patrons to a specific area and it was obvious that no one had patrolled the grounds to properly dispose of the scattered waste all over the property; I literally had to tip toe in spots because I couldn’t put my foot flat, there was so much. If the SPCA receives even partial funding from some government agency, wouldn’t it seems logical for it to actively participate in the going green program; if the SPCA isn’t actively going green, why should the patrons even consider taking the issue seriously? The veterinarian’s grounds were immaculate; he had a free baggy machine by the entrance and inside by the door. I believe someone scans the grounds for waste on a daily basis because poo seen on one night was gone the following morning. I noticed the difference then, but I really didn’t think about how the going green campaign could be negatively impacted by the SPCA’s lack of support for it …. (did I express that thought correctly)? All three of my dogs are always together,but that year my older dog had to do back for extra blood work before the vet would clear her to be sedated to have her last four teeth pulled; one of my yorkies was cleared at the time of his yearly exam so he didn’t go back until the day of the procedure. Approx 5 days after having the extra blood work, my 13 year old maltese contracted kennel cough; approximate 3 weeks prior to this date, she received her yearly exam and shots (which included kennel cough). It was the first time any of my dogs (7 over 50 years, not including the 3 I have now) ever had kennel cough and I was thankful my older dog had just had the vaccine because she probably would not have survived otherwise. It was that bad; I am not exaggerating (I was a cardiac step down nurse). She struggled for 4 days before she showed any sign of improvement and although I cannot prove it, it is my feeling that she contracted the virus while sniffing on the SPCAs property. I don’t think that location should receive any funding if it cannot demonstrate to its patrons the necessity of picking up waste and offering the means to do so; I believe it is not only the perfect place but it’s also a great opportunity to meaningfully educate the public simply by demonstrating the how, what, where etc. What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *