Trying to eliminate plastic from her life, Jemima Kiss hit a snag with cleaning up dog waste, so she dug for a solution
My dog is an adonis, a prince among dogs. He’s also a relentless shitting machine, squirting out at least two noxious-smelling slippery daily turds that we (mostly) diligently pick up and dispose of in the conventional way. But as our household has been dragging itself further away from the routine pervasive disposable plastics, it has made less and less sense to wrap each fresh turd in a plastic bag and stick it in the landfill bin.
As is so often the case with “convenience”, dog poo bags feel like a tidy solution. In fact, they are a very short-term fix with terrible long-term implications. What we’re actually doing is preserving organic matter in an ecologically expensive plastic bag and sending it to an environment – a landfill – where it cannot decompose. Every time I’ve stood patiently watching my dog toothpaste-out his morning dump, I’ve worried more and more about the best solution. And finding the best answer is not as straightforward as you might think.
Dog poo, it turns out, is a massively emotive and popular issue, both for dog owners and dog haters. Dog shit is disgusting. It smells. It spreads disease. And it’s hard to pick out of the soles of your shoes or your child’s hair as a result of someone who couldn’t be arsed to clear up after their animal.
Let’s be clear that trying to reduce your consumption of plastics is categorically not a reason to stop picking up your dog’s poo. I also want to be honest and say that for about three days I tried flicking it into the bushes instead when on rural walks (let the hate mail commence) until my research confirmed that this was a terrible idea. I apologise.