Not long after adopting Chance, I came to realize that he was nothing but a furry poop factory. His poops are frequent, and frequently massive. Also not long after I adopted Chance, plastic bags were banned in Los Angeles (followed by the new bring-your-own bag regulations).
Which sparked a disturbing epiphany one day as I attempted to grasp a particularly large pile of dog crap in my plastic-bagged hand–why was I still using plastic bags four times a day to pick up Chance’s poop??
Surely there must be a more eco-friendly way to handle the constant stream of waste, right? I mean, it’s obviously biodegradable, so at the very least I should be putting it in the green bin, right?? (NOPE. DOG POOP DOES NOT GO IN THE GREEN BIN. EVER.)
So I embarked on a research journey to figure out what exactly one is supposed to do with dog poop. One of the very first things I stumbled across was this article by Susan Carpenter, written for the LA Times in 2011. She points out that, first of all, “it’s against the law in L.A. to leave dog waste on public or private property unless there is consent from the property owner.” And even then, you don’t want to leave it lying around because, according to the LA Stormwater program, “a single gram of dog poop can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, which has health risks for other dogs and humans as well as our local rivers, lakes and bays.” So, when it comes to disposing of Puppy’s poop, here’s how your options break down:
The “Septic Tank” Option
Probably the most eco-friendly option is the Doggy Dooley. Ms. Carpenter is very enthusiastic about this one, but it probably will only work for you if you own your own land (hahahahahahaha) or your landlord is cool with you digging a four-feet deep hole for a dog-shit septic tank. Best of luck to you. I looked into it, but there are too many tree-roots in my little side-yard for me to accomplish it. If you want to go down this road, read the comments on Amazon first and foremost. While it seems to work for some people, it really doesn’t for others.
The Compost Option
Ms. Carpenter covers composting in her article, but comes to the conclusion that you need 7 or 8 dogs to make it work (the compost pile has to operate at a steady “pathogen-killing temperature of at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit, preferably 170 degrees”). However, LA’s Bureau of Sanitation has published a PDF on backyard composting and they specifically say you should not compost dog feces. Honestly, it sounds to me like it’s pretty complicated to safely compost dog poop, so unless you’re an expert, just stop thinking about this option.
The Trash Option
Big reveal–this is really the only option. That means you CANNOT put your dog poop in the green bin (or the blue bin, if you were even thinking that). It goes with all your other trash in the BLACK bin. So now it comes down to how, exactly, you want to go about getting Puppy’s poop from the ground to the trash.
- A pooper-scooper and a trash can. This is honestly a great solution if you have an outdoor area to put a trash can. Above is the exact trash can I have and I LOVE IT. The whole top flips up so you can replace the bag easily, but then it snaps back into place and you only have to open the little door to drop poop in. Keeps everything all sealed up and smelling nice (I also recommend these pine-scented Hefty bags).
- “Reusable” poop bags?? Heal the Bay seems to be suggesting that you use reusable fabric bags to pick up your dog’s poop and then just…toss them in the wash? I honestly can’t really figure out if I’m reading that right. But they also suggest using old newspaper (y’know…since you get a newspaper), or the wrappers from food (like the plastic around your frozen burritos). Hey, these are completely viable options if you want to be really good to the environment, and I probably should be doing one of these things. I am not.
- I scoop Chance’s poop up in Earth-Rated poop bags and throw it in my little sealed-up trash can. So-called “biodegradable” poop bags like BioBags (which “are made from a resin…derived from plants, vegetable oils and compostable polymers”) are only biodegradable if you’ve got one of those 140-170 degree composting situations–in a landfill, they degrade at roughly the same rate as plastic. LA Stormwater explains further in this great article, which also includes a link for Angelenos to get FREE DOG WASTE BAGS from the city! I choose Earth-Rated bags because they “contain an EPI additive, which help [these] bags break down unlike traditional plastic bags,” and all the packaging is made of recycled content.
I really did attempt to find a composting facility somewhere in LA that would accept bagged dog waste. The only thing I could find was the Griffith Park Composting Facility, which composts waste from the LA Zoo–but sadly does not accept waste from the public.
So there you have it, folks. From what I can tell, your best bet is to pick your poison as far as bags go, and dispose of Puppy’s poop in the trash.