Should I flush dog poop?
Should I flush dog poop?
Embracing Dog Poop Shame:
Eco-friendly Methods to Get a Handle on Your Shit
Nikki Collier — July 4, 2019
Three times a day (honestly, sometimes even four). That’s how many times our beloved dog Tonka poops each day. Too much information, perhaps, but I’m a mom and moms have been known to celebrate healthy bowel movements.
That praise is immediately followed by the inescapable duty—no pun intended—of having to clean up after him. As a mom, I’m used to cleaning up poop, so that doesn’t bother me.
What does bother me is the method in which we clean his waste –those tight rolls of disposable plastic bags dangling from his leash.
As I’ve been learning and changing my habits towards a more sustainable way of life, I felt sick to my stomach the day I crunched the number of plastic bags we’ve consumed with Tonka. It came to 1,095 bags a year, roughly 7,000 bags over his lifetime.
I’m not proud of that number, but it did inspire me to make a change and research the best ways to dispose of dog poop without putting a strain on the environment.
I know I’m not the only one who’s had poop on the brain. As I started my dog waste disposal research, I found many concerned dog parents that have looked into this.
To spare you the hours of internet research, I’ve compiled a list of options for various levels of commitment: from making simple changes, to the most sustainable dog poop disposal method—which will likely surprise you!
Eco-Friendly Dog Poop Bags
If you’re already using bags, then making the switch to earth-friendly poop bags could be the most realistic and least disruptive change to your daily routine.
As easy as this may sound, be aware that not all bags are created equal.
Due to unregulated guidelines, dog waste bag manufacturers often times use misleading claims in their packaging (such as “biodegradability”, “degradable”, or “dissolves”) to make it seem like their product is the real deal.
To avoid falling victim of ambiguous product labels, make sure that whatever biodegradable poop bags you choose uphold to the ASTM and USDA Certified Biobased specifications as they are the coveted standards. The ASTM D6400 specification is the highest badge of honor a product can carry and is given to products that actually compost. You can find more information on ASTM D6400 here: http://www.astm.org/Standards/D6400.htm.
You can also shop certified compostable poop bags and other compostable products at
Compostable.org . This site works to find compostable products on Amazon, and then lists them in a single place. If possible, the site indicates when a product is certified globally by DIN Certco (Vinçotte or OK Compost), BPI (North America), or EBPA (Asia). If Amazon isn’t your preferred digital shop, you can still use compostable.org to find ASTM D6400 specific bags and then decide where to make your final purchase.
While switching to ASTM D6400 specific bags is an improvement from a non-compost bag option, the bag and poop is still making its way to the landfill. Most existing composting facilities aren’t developed to handle feces and the dangerous bacteria associated with it, and what does exist isn’t very conducive to breaking down plastics.
Use an In-Ground Dog Poop Composter
At some point you might’ve asked yourself the question: can dog poop be composted at home? And the answer is yes!
An in-ground waste digester system is a step-up from using ASTM D6400 specific plastic bags, with several commercial options on the market like the Doggie Doolie . Just remember to use the compost created from dog poop for non-edible plants only!
If you’re considering this method, I encourage you to do your research and see if this will work for you, as this system comes with specific limitations. For example, digesters are temperature-dependent and tend to work better at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, that means that this might not be an option year-round in some areas of the country (I’m looking at you, Wisconsin!). Beyond that, there are a handful of other factors to consider prior to moving forward with a dog poop compost system. Check out In-Ground Stool Digesters: How They Work for more info.
For the super crafty folks, you can also make your own homemade dog waste disposal system with supplies available at your local home and garden store—but this can be more challenging for the average dog owner. The USDA has an interesting read on composting dog waste that is informative and makes starting your own composting system seem less intimidating.
This might be the most surprising pet waste disposal solution to some—and it might also be the most ecologically friendly.
According to the EPA , the most sustainable way to dispose of dog poop is to flush it down the toilet. Most municipal water treatment facilities are equipped to process water containing fecal matter, with dog waste being not terribly different from human waste. You can find flushable dog poop bags on the market, like Flush Puppies , made from Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) – a water soluble alternative to regular plastic that breaks down in water. This option is a no-go if you have a septic tank, best to keep your dog’s poop (bag or no bag) out of it.
So have you done the math on the number of poop filled plastic bags you’ve sent to the landfill yet? If yes, and you’re as shocked as I am—don’t sweat! From making more informed choices when choosing your earth-friendly poop bags to using your toilet, you’ve got options here to help you change your habits in a manageable way. Just remember to do your homework and ease into it. We’ll be doing the same here at Leashless Lab, and you know we’ll always let you crib our notes. Now embrace that shame and get a handle on your [dog’s] shit!
-> Want to stay updated and receive our latest articles? Sign up here .
-> Are you trying to create a more sustainable lifestyle? Check out our line of products featuring recycled and repurposed materials here !
Can You Flush Your Dog Poop Problem Down the Toilet?
With my many dooloop blog posts about what to do with dog poop, and my eco-warrior concerns about avoiding environmental contamination by countless dots of pup-poop, you’d think I would have told you to just flush that stuff. And you know what? In many cases, it’s OK! Even the Environmental Protection Agency says so.
There IS a big “BUT” to consider…or a wee little butt, if your pooch is a chihuahua, shih tzu, dachshund, or another pint-sized pup. In fact, there are at least three “buts” to the EPA’s quick answer to the question, “is it OK to flush dog poop down the toilet?”
3 things to keep in mind if you plan to flush your dog’s #2
1. Don’t flush if you have a private septic system . When the EPA says it’s OK to flush dog poo, they add, “so it can be treated at a sewage treatment plant.» As of 2015, 21 million US households used a private septic system and drain field– not a public sewer system — to handle their toilet waste. If you’d like to check that out state-by-state, there’s a really fascinating infographic right here. That’s one-fifth of the United States that doesn’t have access to a public sewer and a municipal wastewater treatment plant.
If you have a private septic system, you’ll want to keep everyday canine BM away from your indoor plumbing. An emergency flush or pint-sized poops may be okay, but private systems are built to handle a specific volume of waste based on the estimated size of a household, and if you’re adding doo-doo from a pack of pups, it’s contributing to the solids in your tank. You may need to have it pumped more often, which heaps extra dollars on your home maintenance. The Washington State University Extension also warns that dog feces contain hair and ash that aren’t found in human waste, and can clog your septic drain field.
So, if you’re not on a public sewer system, it’s probably a good idea to strike your toilet off the list of everyday ways to dispose of dog poop.
2. Never flush bagged poop . Although some poop bags claim to be biodegradable, it can take a few months to a few years for decomposition to fully break them down. Poop bags are great if you are scooping up poop (and slinging it safely into your dooloop poop-bag holder) to dispose of in the trash. But if you flush it, that baggie full of dog waste will be entirely intact when it arrives at the wastewater treatment plant or bobs its way down into your septic tank. It can clog your pipes at home and will also cause real problems in both public and private waste management systems. Either you, your landlord, a plumber, or a municipal sanitation worker will be the unfortunate person who must unclog the disgusting backed-up mess. So, bagged poop is always a no-go for toilets.
3. Got kids? Beware “monkey-see, monkey-doo.” If kids see you tossing things down the toilet rather than reserving the porcelain throne for human bodily fluids, it can be hard for them to decipher what’s flushable and what’s not. If that toilet-paper-wrapped dog-log is OK, what about wads of Kleenex, disinfecting wipes, or even Legos? It’s best to teach kids that nothing goes down the old toilet hole except their own poop, pee, and used toilet paper. Treating the toilet like a rubbish bin is bound to create conflict in a kid’s curious mind.
So, there you go, the word on the turd. Hopefully you’ve gotten a little more clarity about the using the flush. Until this blog post, TBH, I thought the septic would be okay, but nope! So, safeguard your family and community’s sanitation system and bank account by tucking your dog’s waste in the trash can instead of the toilet, when appropriate. And be sure to stock up on affordable dooloops to help carry it there! We’d all like a wand to wish dog poop away, but until then, it’s a better world when we all do our little part.