For Earth Week, we thought about all the ways we consider the planet in our day to day lives. That includes thinking about how our animals contribute to our household carbon footprint.

Although we like to think of our animals as Earth loving creatures (and for sure they are), there are certain habits they have that may not be super great for the planet. One that comes to mind is their ‘biz’…

Not so Fun Fact: America’s 83 million pet dogs produce about 10.6 million tons of poop every year!

That’s a lot of waste. And if you’re picking up that poop and tossing it in the trash, that’s not very Earth friendly.

Now, we’re not suggesting you stop picking up that poop. Your neighbours probably won’t like it, and it’s just bad manners. So, what alternative is there? Can you compost dog poop? And why not just leave it on the ground?

Why Pick Up That Poop?

Why not just leave that poop on the ground? Isn’t that better than putting it in the garbage bin? Nope. Here’s why:

  1. Dog waste doesn’t break down on its own. In fact, it can take up to 12 months to fully break down. Leaving it in the hopes that it will eventually just wash away is not a good idea. Why? Well…
  2. It contaminates our waterways. When rain washes over dog poop, it flows into the drainage systems and is carried into lakes, streams, and rivers. Studies have shown that up to 30% of bacteria found in watersheds come from pet waste!
  3. It can carry bacteria. The parasites and bacteria in dog waste can spread disease to other dogs and even you if not properly picked up. And that bacteria can stay in the soil for years!
  4. Just common courtesy. It’s never fun to step in dog poop. And it’s not actually very safe for other dogs, due to those parasites and bacteria we mentioned earlier. Pick up after your pooch and dispose of the waste in an eco-conscious manner (yes, we’ll get to that, promise).

So, pick it up. Great. But with what?

In the United States alone we use about 14 billion plastic bags a year. Skip the plastic bags for poop pick up! Biodegradable pet waste bags are much better. These types of bags are durable and won’t leak, tear, or break. They break down completely in a relatively short period of time, keeping landfills free from plastic!

Ok, you’ve picked it up. Now what?

Can You Compost Dog Poop?

Can dog poop head into the compost bin with your food scraps?

Yes, definitely. This is a much more eco-friendly way to dispose of poop.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Home Compost Pickup (Green Bin)

This is probably the easiest way to compost dog poop.

If you’re in an area where compost (a green bin) is part of your weekly garage pick up, check with your local waste authority. Many municipalities encourage dog poop disposal in home compost bins (in biodegradable or paper bags, or wrapped in newspaper or paper towel). More municipalities are making this change. Check with your municipal waste management department or request the change.

2. Home Compost Bin

Compost is an excellent source of organic matter to add to your garden or potted plants. It helps improve soil structure which contributes to good aeration and moisture-holding capacity. Compost is also a source of plant nutrients. Compost can also be used as a mulch material.

Buy or make your own compost bin, specifically for dog waste. This method does require some ongoing attention, but it can provide you with valuable material to give your garden beds a mega boost.

**Important Note: due to the possible bacteria and parasites, dog waste isn’t safe to use in compost that will be used for edible vegetation or agriculture. It is completely safe for other uses like flower gardens and lawn soil, just keep it out of your vegetable patch.

3. Dog Poop Digester

This may sound kind of gross, but it’s really not. It’s another eco-friendly option to compost dog poop.

These divert dog waste from landfills and instead, keep in your own backyard. They work sort of like a home septic system, converting the waste to a liquid that eventually soaks out through the subsoil.

To make a dog poop digester you’ll need:

  • plastic garbage bin – choose one depending on how much poop will go in it
  • rocks and/or gravel for drainage
  • septic starter 
  • a shovel
  • a drill

1. Take your garbage bin and drill a dozen or so holes up and down the sides.
2. Cut out the bottom (you’ll be putting the open side into the ground, but want to cover to be able to cover it).
3. Dig a hole just deep enough for the garbage can and toss in your rocks/gravel.
4. Place the garbage can into the hole and leave a little above ground level.
5. Add your dog poop and then sprinkle some septic started on top. Add a little water to help it get going.
6. Put the lid on.

Each time you add more poop, don’t forget to add a little more septic starter and some water.

Each year, tons of pet waste is thrown into trash cans and ends up in sanitary landfills. By making more earth friend decisions and choosing to compost dog poop instead, we can reduce the amount of waste in landfills. And that’s always a good thing!