A typical dog creates three-quarters of a pound of poop every day, or 274 pounds a year, according to the EPA. (I’d guess my pups are far over that estimate.) And how’s this for scale? In the two cities of Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska, pups produce an estimated 20 million pounds of poop each year, while 200 million tons of kitty litter goes into landfills nationwide. You may not think the topic polite, but the reality is that all pet owners need to come up with options to manage their pet’s poop. So what’s the best way to deal with the stuff?
We certainly hope you don’t toss it in your neighbor’s yard, and you certainly can’t leave it lying around — especially if your condo development or homeowners’ association likes to collect it for doggie DNA
Cat people: don’t feel left out. While my household is partial to pups, we’ve got some tips for your kitty litter, too.
You don’t have a pet but you have a baby? They poop, too, and yes, for that you also need a plan.
CAN’T I JUST THROW IT IN THE TRASH?
For dogs, you can carry a pooper-scooper, but I prefer the bag method. Simply find a hole-free bag and put your hand inside, as if the bag is a glove. Pick up the poop and turn the bag inside out. Simple, and (usually) very neat.
After you’ve double bagged and tied off the stuff, toss it in the trash can. We’d strongly recommend using a lidded garbage can that you keep outside. Don’t use the one in your kitchen, please.
You might still find an odor wafting out of your can, so use some baking soda, a dryer sheet or some other scented solution to ward off the smells.
Then your poop will head off to a landfill.
Caveat: Even if you use biodegradable bags, some landfills have a no-poop policy because it can lead to water contamination and methane gas production. You may want to check with your town’s trash department about local regulations. (You don’t want the poop police knocking on your door.)
Also read these interesting suggestions on the proper way to pick up poop.
And lots of that litter that goes to the landfill isn’t biodegradable, so you may want to shop around for one that is.
CAN I FLUSH IT?
If you don’t mind getting a little hands-on with your poop management, consider simply dumping your dog’s stuff in the toilet and flushing it away.
Make sure not to flush the bag or any paper towels you may have used during the pick-up process, and be sure to flush one poop at a time, rather than a week’s worth of collections from your yard.
If you’re looking to flush kitty litter, you could be making a big mistake — and a big future contribution to your plumber’s bank account. Many kitty litters are made of clay, and when clay gets wet, you’ll have a cement-like substance that over time may do a job on your pipes.
The Unclog Blog says even non-clay litter can be a problem because all litter is made to absorb moisture. When it absorbs moisture, it will expand — something your pipes aren’t designed to do.
Even if you could flush litter without killing your pipes, you could be doing more harm than good for environment.
You see, what you flush gets cleaned and reused. But researchers say a feline parasite — Toxoplasma gondii — is quite hardy and can easily make it through water-cleaning systems. It’s been found infecting dolphins and other wild beasts, as well as doing a job on the health of people with weakened immune systems.
You could, though, easily dump and flush the contents of your baby’s diaper without any ill effects to your plumbing or the environment.
Just keep the diaper itself out of the bowl.
(No, you don’t have to do the digesting, silly.)
The folks at For Dummies recommend a contraption that works like a septic system. For $50 to $75, they say you can purchase the machine, called a digester. You’d dig a hole in your yard and install the digester. Instead of tossing your poop into the trash, put it in the digester. Add digester mix (something you’d also need to buy) and some water, and the machine will reportedly liquefy the poop and drain the liquid into the surrounding soil.
That’s one we may have to try.
Bet it would work just fine with the contents of your baby’s diapers, too. But kitty litter is a no-go.
WHAT ABOUT COMPOSTING
If you’re environmentally-conscious and you don’t mind a little work, composting may be your answer.
As defined by the Department of Agriculture, composting is “the controlled breakdown or degradation of organic material into a product known as humus. Dog waste composting is a natural process that requires air, water, organic matter, microbes and a little human intervention.”
It offers a step-by-step guide [PDF] with more composing options than you probably thought were possible.
Composting cat waste isn’t nearly as simple, so think twice before you try.
If you’re thinking about composting, you should learn more about composting regulations in your area by talking to your local composting authority.
For more about composting in general, check out this composting infographic from our friends at Lifehacker.
We’d love to hear your poop solutions. Shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a topic you’d like to see covered in How To Not Suck? Or maybe you’re an expert who would like to share your insight with Consumerist readers? Send us a note at email@example.com.
You can read Karin Price Mueller’s stories for The Star-Ledger at NJ.com, follow her on Facebook, and on Twitter @kpmueller.
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