Lately, I’ve had poop on the brain.

That’s not uncommon, metaphorically speaking. My mind is often filled with waste matter. But my preoccupation with actual dog doo began with a couple of recent posts about faux feces products on The Pooping Dachshund Game and Dog Poo Christmas Decorations.

Then on Saturday night, an Animal Planet show on unique pet products had a segment devoted to the Powerloo dog waste disposal system.

If I had $1000 plus the plumber’s installation fee to spare, I would get one of these.

Why? Because I try to be eco-conscious and realized, after reading about the Powerloo’s benefits, that I’m a serial offal offender.

Here’s what the Environmental Protection Agency says about the dangers of pet waste:

When pet waste is improperly disposed of, it can be picked up by stormwater runoff and washed into stormdrains or nearby waterbodies. Since stormdrains do not always connect to treatment facilities, untreated animal feces often end up in lakes and streams, causing significant water pollution.

Decaying pet waste consumes oxygen and sometimes releases ammonia. Low oxygen levels and ammonia can damage the health of fish and other aquatic life. Pet waste carries bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can threaten the health of humans and wildlife. Pet waste also contains nutrients that promote weed and algae growth (eutrophication). Cloudy and green, Eutrophic water makes swimming and recreation unappealing or even unhealthy.

Their recommendations include flushing dog waste down your toilet or wrapping it tightly and putting in the household trash… but definitely not using it it for fertilizer. Here’s a link to the the entire, very informative EPA article, which also revealed the answer to a question that has long bothered me: What are those “Curb your dog” signs about?

I keep a supply of cheap plastic sandwich bags with me when I walk Frankie and always pick up after him when we’re outside.


Eco-Sin #1

… I’m not always vigilant about cleaning up after Frankie in my own backyard. I figured it was an aesthetic issue, and if I waited a visitor-free day or three before disposing, who would know? (Okay, since Frankie has stopped recycling his waste, I’ve gotten a bit lazy.)

Not so.Β  It has often rained when my yard was, well, wasted. So no more of that.

But then I starting thinking about…

Eco-Sin #2

… how many more environmentally incorrect plastic bags I was now going to devote to daily poop removal.

[Just an aside here: I’m beginning to feel like Andie McDowell in Sex, Lies, and Videotape — you know, the monologue where she tells her shrink she’s obsessed with waste disposal.]

The solution? Biodegradable waste bags designed to dissolve in the sewer system when you flush them.

I was being penny wise, environment foolish. That’s over. No more cheap sandwich bags for Frankie’s feces.

The next step? Maybe I can encourage the Tucson City Council to install something similar to Cambridge’s Park Spark project, which turns dog poop into methane gas to power street lamps:

41 thoughts on “The Dog Poop Chronicles: A Tale of Personal Growth & Waste Disposal”

  1. You are not the only one obsessed with poop questions. It makes me crazy there we don’t have more responsible ways to deal with this problem.

    At our local dog park, the waste is composted by a large, professional composting company. If you have a big enough system and manage it carefully, waste can be composted.

    But I don’t go to the dog park often.

    Most of our deposits happen on a walk. I also use little bags where the waste is enshrined for the ages in plastic that won’t break down for hundreds of years. And even worse, because we compost and recycle, we throw out garbage less than once a month. In the summer, the smell is atrocious (not to mention the maggots)!

    My solution is to use the toilet in our basement but I haven’t found a satisfactory way to get the waste from the walk back to the house. Even the doggie loo in the video is assuming your dogs are spending most of their time in the back yard. I’ve called the water department to ask if biodegradable bags would break down in the sewer system but no one knows.

    I’m really not an entrepreneurial person but I’m starting to think I need to develop a bag out of corn starch that could break down instantly in water so people could dispose of waste in their toilets. Of course, walks in the rain might be perilous!

    Ok, now you got me all riled up. Is getting this excited about dog poo telling me something about an imbalance in my life?

    1. There must be a slogan somewhere: “Imbalance in the name of saving the planet is a virtue”!

      The composting sounds like an ideal intruder aversion plan.

      I’m surprised though that there’s a question about whether biodegradable bags break down in the sewer system. I’m going to have to check that out…

      1. Biodegradable just means that it breaks down in the sun over time. Which means that if it goes into your landfill and is buried under tons of other garbage, it may not break down much faster than conventional plastic bags.

        To be safe for the sewer system, it would have to break down in water.

        Please post again if you find anything in your research!

        Oh, and wow! You certain hit the interest level with this post! Look at all the comments!

    2. There are flushable bags and I think they are called Flush Puppies on Amazon. I’ve used them – you don’t tie the bag before you flush – there are probably more players in that space now, but the FPs were kinda thick and not so easy to turn inside out to grab the poop…but I never had a plumbing problem, and felt that’s really where dog poop should go – down the same toilet ours does to keep the environment clear of this pollutant:)

      1. Flush Frankie’s Feces will be my goal from now on! I’m going to check out the Flush Puppies. I think a contest with biodegradable bags as a prize is in order. If anyone knows a sponsor…

  2. Great post, Edie! Thanks for the info. All pet owners should really be responsible in disposing their pet’s waste because failing to do that can cause unfavourable conditions in our environment. When I take Rico (my 4 month old GSD) on parks, I make sure that I have pet poop bags and scooper so that I can properly dispose it in trash bins.

    1. Excellent, Liam! I still remember the pre-pooper scooper days when the streets of New York were lined with dog doo. I think people are a lot more aware these days.

  3. most of the parks here [where dogs frequent] have free biodegradable poop bags. recently, a friend brought back a paper one for me from germany. i thought it was very spiffy. it even has a bit that you fold into a “spade” , very clever. [if you’re curious what that looks like…check german engineering post in june.] there’s also a spanish man who’s invented a flushable dog loo that [i read somewhere] is being trialled in dog poop city number #1, paris. LOVE the poop into methane gas idea in your vid!

    finally, 20 years ago, i used dog poop to fertilise an orange tree i had. it had the most marvellous fruit!

    isn’t it wonderful how there’s so much to talk about dog poop?

    have a great day πŸ™‚ xox

      1. …fertile topic!!! haha!!! i’m actually reading this while having breakfast. i must have a stronger stomach than I thought.

        sorry i didn’t put the link, but i don’t generally like to do that on other peoples’ blogs. makes me feel so pushy :p aren’t the german paper things lovely? sometimes, with the bags, i worry about HOLES.

        yes, the parks [at least in my area] are pretty good. during school holidays, schoolchildren rip into the dispensers and the bags are everywhere! when it gets very hot on our walks during summer, i use these bags to carry drinking water [for the dogs]. quite versatile πŸ™‚

        so if those plastic, cardboard, metal devices are there forever…how do you share them with other dog owners? are they at a station and when your dog poops, you have to go get them? how does this work if the park is very big? hmmm…

        1. Ah, but you’re already linking to your blog with the CommentLuv feature — which is what I like about it; it gets you to read other people’s posts — and sharing info is never pushy.

          The plastic cardboard and metal thingies are in stations along the trail where I walk. You carry them with you until your dog poops and then you carry them with you until you find a receptacle. Not fun! I don’t go to dog parks — Frankie is not a fan — but I imagine it would work the same way there.

          1. that sounds like a lot of work. seeing as how many people here don’t even carry the light small plastic bags that they can easily stuff into pockets or tie around leashes, i don’t think those “thingies” you have would go down well here.

            re: the commentluv. it’s great! wonder if i could get something like that for my blog. but then, i hardly get any comments so maybe it’s pretty pointless! :p

            have a great day and thanks for the info πŸ™‚ xox

    1. Indeed. But each city is different. My trash pickup is from bins that go directly into a truck that goes to the landfill. So there are no intermediary plastic bags.

  4. As in Georgia little pea’s city, the parks in Santa Barbara have biodegradable poop bags. This is because we’re an environmentally aware (some may say paranoid) beach and commercial fishing town where water quality is important for human health as well as tourism and the fishing industry. In fact, water quality is checked at all the beaches weekly during the dry season and daily during the wet season. One problem is that the happy bags cost 7 cents apiece, and the city and county are now balking at paying, so private parties are trying to organize donations to pay for the bags. I’ve been ignorant and cheap, too, as I use the little sandwich bags when I pick up after Archie in the back yard. You have now gently prodded me (as opposed to guilted me) into going online and ordering the biodegradable bags.

    1. I should have known that about Santa Barbara. Hmmm. Maybe the fund raising efforts should be towards the city parks installing Powerloos. It’d be a one-time fee as opposed to constant fundraising.

      Thank you for calling my revelations prod — rather than guilt — inducing.

  5. So, can I freely admit that we toss our dogs’ poop into the neighbor’s yard? It’s true, we do! Before you condemn us, we have permission. No kidding. Our neighbor has 72 wooded acres uninhabited by humans. We just fling shovels of the stuff over the rock wall where it mingles with the deer dung, coyote crap and bear scat. At least it’s plastic-free! It also explains why the deer, coyote and bear crap in our yard. :O

    1. Ok, Kim, that literally made me laugh out loud, especially the part about the critters crapping — that’s a technical term, right? — in your yard.

      1. Don’t get me started! But now that I have, there is one story I have to tell about the entertainment value of of this brown gold.

        When Tim and I began dating , his father, Tom, and Tom’s main squeeze, Peggy, came to town. After we were all acquainted and settling in for our weekend visit, Tim excused himself for a moment, stepping into the dog yard to take care of “business.”

        Tom, Peg and I were talking in the sun room when Peg spied Tim through the window. Apparently his tossing technique is audience worthy. For every launch Tim made, Peg enthusiastically exclaimed, “Oh, now look at that! Oooooh! That was a good one! Wow. Look how far it goes!”

        And I thought to myself, “Oh, dear lord, what am I getting into?”

        And then there was the time I did a handstand in it…


    1. Isn’t that a cool concept?

      My yard is defoliated — long sad story involving a grandfathered in septic tank and lots of large bugs — so it’s very easy to see the poop. Nowhere to hide.

  6. What a great concept with the dog poop recycling. Here in Europe we experiment with use waste of farm animals to make energy, but pet waste is a unvisited area. Efforts still focus on getting people to clean up after there pets. And lately, educating people to dispose the bag in the right place, and not leave it behind as a fancy dog poop ribbon signaling “I was here”.

    You can get biodegrable bags, and they are winning ground on the plastic version, also because bio and recycling is very “in” at the moment.

    I tried searching the site of the European Environment Agency to see if I could find some more information like you found on the EPA site, but couldn’t find any.

    1. Thank you for providing the European context. I always read about the products available abroad and they sound so innovative. I therefore assume that this applies to all kinds of human habits, too. I guess I should have cast aside that whole notion of ultra advanced societies after your BSL article, where you explained how some politicians advocated that people kill their own species-incorrect dogs. How’s that going by the way? Any news on the BSL front?

  7. I am so pleased that I helped inspire this post πŸ™‚ I really like the powerloo, but like yourself, I don’t have the spare bucks to install it. I wonder if the powerloo could be used in Canadian winters? I think that the water would probably freeze solid. Maybe there is an insulated version?

    1. Karen, I suspect that since this is a toilet designed for the outdoors it would be immune to all kinds of weather… but maybe they have an Arctic Tundra Pet Toilet line?

  8. LOL! Arctic Tundra Pet Toilet – that cracks me up! And after that we need to make a Loo for Pets on the Go. If we modify the Winnebago to run on methane, Buster and Ty could power our travels. πŸ™‚

    1. I in term am LOLing at the idea of powering your Winnebago with Ty and Buster poop. You could then be Go Pet – and Eco – Friendly!

  9. Oh my gosh this has been one of the most informative posts I’ve read in a while – thank you! I honestly had no idea that pet waste consumed oxygen and, I always thought it could eventually be used for fertilizer – not that I’ve done that but that is what I always heard. I always pick up the poop in my backyard and would love to win some biodegradable bags πŸ™‚ I WANT the Powerloo! Can’t afford it right now but would definitely like it one day. And how amazing is that Park Spark project – again, had no idea that poop could create energy! Holy Moly why aren’t we snatching these ideas up everywhere?!! Great post Edie!!

    1. Thanks very much for the nice words, Kim. I approached the Flush Puppies folks who Mary suggested in hopes of having them host a contest. So far no response. But I’m working on it.

  10. Here in Chico all the parks where you can take your dog offer free biodegradable waste bags. I usually buy my own to help save the city money due to budget cuts. It’s nice to know that using the biodegradable bags actually make a difference.

    I would love to have the extra money to install a powerloo. My husband and I currently pick up the poo in our backyard and put it in the trash can outside without being in any type of bag.

    Now I’m thinking of doing a product review of the poop bags I use =)

  11. The compost-into-methane is a tremendous idea, to be sure — I don’t know if it’s replicable on a large scale, but it’s certainly a sound theory. I must admit, though, as someone born and raised in the Massachusetts suburbs, that when I first read that article I kind of rolled my eyes and said, “Yup, that’s Cambridge for you…”
    – – – – –
    dog beds and more

  12. This issue definitely needs more awareness so that water sources won’t continue to be polluted, making people and wildlife sick. Thanks for sharing what you’ve found!

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