There are millions of dogs in the UK, producing an estimated 1,000 tonnes of waste every day. Dog mess is unpleasant and can spread the Toxocara worm. Obviously we can’t leave all this poo lying around, but what is the most eco-friendly way to dispose of it all?
In the UK most dog owners collect their dog waste in plastic bags then dispose of it in the nearest bin. This is great – but what happens to the waste once it leaves the bin? Well, generally, the bags end up buried in a landfill site where they and their contents will remain for many years – plastic bags can take 100 years or more to degrade.
If the dog waste is going into a household bin this too can cause a problem, as it will start to ferment in the plastic bag. Many councils now only collect wheelie bins on alternate weeks, so the dog poop could potentially be sitting festering in the bin for up to two weeks before being transported off to the landfill site.
- Use compostable biodegradable dog waste bags such as Biobags (BioBag Dog Waste Poop Bags). Try to train your dog to go in the garden before you leave home, or walk him before meals so that there is nothing to pick up while you are out.
- You can now buy flushable bags so dog mess can simply be put down the toilet and flushed away. The bags break down quickly and harmlessly in the water, and the waste goes to the sewage plant to be safely treated. See Flushable Poo Bags for more details.
- You can put small amounts of dog poo into your compost heap – it’s not advisable if you’ve got either a small heap or a large dog! The heap needs to be layered correctly and turned regularly to keep the temperature high. Never use compost containing dog waste on food crops.
- Use a wormery. This works in exactly the same way as a normal wormery used for kitchen waste, but should only be used for animal waste. The worms must be fed exclusively on pet waste as they will not tolerate a mixed diet – if you want to recycle kitchen scraps you will need a separate wormery. Again, the compost and liquid fertiliser produced should not be used on food crops. Original Organics say their Pet Poo Wormery will treat the waste from up to two medium sized dogs.
- If you have a garden with free-draining soil you can dig a large hole, say 50cm x 50cm x 1 metre deep. It must have a lid which will keep children out. The dog waste is simply put in the hole, watered, then sprinkled over with sawdust, soil or sand to prevent it from smelling and to keep flies away. Compostable disposal bags can be put down the hole as well. Septic tank activator, compost accelerator or a purpose made spray such as Pet Poo Magic can be added to help the waste break down quickly. Or if you have a bokashi bucket you can use the liquid drained off from that. The waste breaks down into the soil leaving very little residue. When the hole eventually becomes full, simply cover over with soil then move to another spot and dig the next one. For more information see Sharon’s Dog Waste Disposal Unit at YouTube.
- Buy a Doggybog – this is designed to fit onto your outdoor soil pipe. You just put the dog waste down the pipe then flush the waste away into the mains sewage system. Flushable disposable bags can be used with this system too. More details from Doggybog.
- Buy a Dog Loo – these generally consist of a two part bucket which is sunk into the ground with large stones beneath to ensure good drainage. A bioactivator is added weekly to help break down the waste naturally. Correct installation is absolutely vital because if the drainage is insufficient you end up with two buckets full of a nasty stinking mess. See the Staywell Dog Waste System and the
CLEAN GREEN DOG LOO
- DIY Dog Waste Composter. You might prefer to build your own system, especially if you have several dogs. City Farmer say they have devised a method of composting dog waste by adapting an old plastic dustbin to slowly decompose the waste in a way that is environmentally safe. See DIY Dog Waste Composter step-by-step for pictures of the method of construction. They begin by drilling holes in the side of the bin, then cut out the base. A hole is dug in the ground slightly deeper than the bin, and the bottom of the hole is filled with rocks or gravel. The bin is then installed into the hole with the top just a little above soil level, and the lid placed on top. Dog waste is dropped into the bin and sprinkled with a little septic tank starter or Pet Poo Magic and some water. The system takes about 48 hours to begin working, after which they say all the waste biodegrades and flows out into the subsoil. Again, this system needs to be covered over to keep children out, and any compost produced should not be used on food crops.
Most of the items above are also available through the turning2green shop.
I hope this has given you some useable ideas for eco-friendly alternatives to sending your dog’s waste to a landfill site for the next hundred years!