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Below is a guest post by Rose Seemann, the owner and operator of EnviroWagg, a Colorado company dedicated to collecting and composting canine waste into safe, nutrient-rich garden soil. She is author of The Pet Poo Handbook: How to Safely Recycle and Compost Pet Waste, New Society Publishers.
It’s estimated that pet waste accounts for around 4% of residential waste and 25% of park trash. Wouldn’t it be better to send it back to nature? After all, it is an organic material like food scraps and yard waste. The average dog produces 275 pounds of waste per year. Wouldn’t eliminating your dog’s contribution to the waste stream take quite a load off Mother Earth?
We’ve been told that dog waste is teeming with dangerous pathogens. But you take your dog for regular visits to the vet and he’s current on his shots. You feed him the good stuff. You let him kiss you! Dog doo scare tactics are so last century!
What to do with Dog Poop
Progressive communities are now encouraging dog waste recycling. Pet owners in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, for example, can apply for funds to purchase dog waste recycling systems that will divert waste from trash and improve water quality.
- The University of Florida offers an online recipe for composting dog waste as well as a do-it-yourself contained tumbler.
- Hearthmakers Energy Cooperative in Kingston, Ontario, schedules seminars teaching residents how to compost pet waste to keep it out of local waterways. How’s that for credibility?
- And yes, you, too, can recycle dog waste! Mike Levenston of City Farmer in Vancouver, British Columbia, posted a video showing viewers how to construct a simple, environmentally friendly septic system that works well in areas with low water levels.
Simply throw in the poop (no bags!) and some septic starter and let nature take its course. Build this system away from foundations and walls. Mike talks about harvesting the decomposed residual as fertilizer when the bin is full. Some dog owners simply pull out the bin shell, cover the hole with 4-6 inches of soil and plant grass or flowers.
If you’d like learn more about what to do with dog poop, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers step-by-step instructions resulting from a 1991 Fairbanks Water Conservation District study of composting at a sled dog yard.
If yard managers can successfully process waste in the cold Alaskan clime, chances are good you can make composting work in your location. Just don’t use the resulting soil amendment on fruits and vegetables. Without testing, there is no guarantee that compost clinging to the surface of edible crops is safe to ingest.
What to do with Dog Poop Continued
Another solution – approved by the EPA – is flushing dog waste. The drawbacks are pretty obvious. This method works well with tiny dogs, especially if they’re litter trained. It’s also helpful for housebound or disabled dogs. Mastiffs…not so much. If you use a plastic pick-up bags, you need to empty the bag (oh ick!) into the bowl. Flushable bags are fine if you get them to the bowl before they disintegrate. Then there’s cleaning the bowl!
Many animal shelters hose dog waste directly into septic sewer lines, essentially flushing the poo. So tapping into an existing sewer and installing a separate disposal line for Fido is do-able. Waste flushed into septic sewers flows to treatment plants. Around 50% of the treated nutrient-rich biosolids are recycled and applied as fertilizer to improve and maintain productive soils.
Don’t flush dog waste if your household uses a self-contained septic tank as the hair might block emitters. See this post on dog poop compost for more details.
Other ways to recycle pet waste include burial, bokoshi composting, moldering and vermicomposting. Yes, red wiggler worms will chow down on dog waste if nothing better is on the menu. And they’ll produce wonderful castings, or worm poo, to use to safely fertilize your decorative plants.
Whatever method you use, rest assured that by recycling your pet’s waste you will significantly reduce the carbon pawprint and earn yourself good eco vibes.