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The Canine Waste Conundrum: Recycled Plastic Bags Or Compostable Alternatives

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The Canine Waste Conundrum: Recycled Plastic Bags Or Compostable Alternatives


Caring for a canine companion is kind of like strapping on parental training wheels and learning all about your capacity for love, tenderness and understanding… not to mention your ability to tolerate randomly flung saliva, projectile vomiting and inappropriate elimination throughout a household that – for many of us -- was once the sole domain of comparably ‘clean’ garden-variety dust. For all of the grimy goobers that they’re responsible for tracking into our homes however, somehow our argh! reaction can be instantly softened to an awww! the moment we notice their glistening rubbery noses enjoying a particularly alluring scent or we catch them spooning an especially treasured plush toy.

It sure is a good thing that dogs are so darned cute, because it helps us to deal with the not-so-delightful aspects of canine parenting, such as how to most effectively address their waste. This is particularly important once we emerge beyond the safe haven of our own yards because it is totally NOT cool to leave doggy deposits all willy-nilly near curbs, behind school yards or along hiking paths.

Of course, what dogs eat must ultimately come out, but until man’s best friend experiences an evolutionary tweak that empowers them with the ability to scoop their own poop, that responsibility will continue to be our domain. It’s not so bad, though, especially when the removal device – a.k.a. ‘plastic bag’ – is used as a protective glove. Plastic bag? That hardly sounds eco-friendly. Isn’t everyone using bioplastic bags by now, anyway? They’re so much better for the planet.

Not so fast. Before you stock up on costly yet seemingly ‘greener’ alternatives, please scan the pros and cons of conventional and eco-doggy poop bags below in order to make a more informed choice:

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From the Organic Authority Files


  • Newly manufactured petroleum-based dog waste bags are a costly product with the same environmental consequences as mainstream one-time-use shopping bags.
  • Composed of polyethylene – a petroleum and natural gas derivative – these plastic bags release copious amounts of airborne pollutants while consuming a great deal of energy during the manufacturing process.
  • Scientists say that bags composed of polyethylene likely take as long as 1,000 years to fully decompose, but in the meantime, they readily succumb to solar and environmental factors by breaking down into tiny, toxic-laden bits.
  • Approximately one million marine creatures and birds then unwittingly munch on these plastic bag bits, ultimately leading to their death. Sadly, even India’s sacred scavenging cows suffer a similar yet equally painful fate.
  • In spite of all their negative qualities, repurposing previously manufactured bags for dog waste nevertheless creates a practical purpose for something that would otherwise be instantly placed in the garbage. Bags to consider: What your newspaper is delivered in, spent zip top pouches used for countless grocery and consumer items, once-used lunchtime snack bags, etc.


  • Bio Buddy, a leading manufacturer of canine poop bags, acknowledges that “there is no perfect dog waste bag, bioplastic or otherwise.”
  • The material used to make eco-friendly dog waste bags varies widely, from BioBag’s starch and agricultural plant-based version to BioBuddy’s 100% recycled post-industrial low density thermoplastic and FlushDoggy’s water soluble polyvinyl alcohol-based offering.
  • As green as the above choices may be (compared to conventional plastic options), studies have proven that due to typical landfill conditions that are absent of oxygen and the anaerobic microorganisms necessary to aid natural degradation, eco-dog waste bags simply don’t break down.
  • Compostable and biodegradable dog waste bags would really have to be exposed to a steady 140 degree heat for the magic to really happen.
  • Nevertheless, these types of dog waste bags are still a viable option for consumers who continue taking active (and sustainable) steps to reduce their personal carbon footprint since in most cases, they are petroleum-free.


  • Steer clear of both conventional and bioplastic dog waste bags by embracing old fashioned yet still effective alternatives.
  • Don’t like the idea of wrapping a layer of waste around your dog’s waste? Then consider using a bag-free pooper scooper, which removes bending from the equation altogether.
  • Other readily available, biodegradable options include using recycled newspaper/magazine pages, leaves (for petite pooches) or scooping up waste with a recyclable and easily washable 32 ounce plastic yogurt container. An 8 ounce cup happens to be ideal for a teeny-tiny pup.
  • Want a practically free option? Use a rubber-gloved hand and fling your doggie’s deposit directly into the nearest trash can!

Image: Kristine Paulus

For more juicy green goodness, follow Elizah via Twitter @elizahleigh

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