Scoop the Poop!
Scoop the Poop!
Did you know that dog poop pollutes the environment? It isn’t a natural fertilizer, it doesn’t just biodegrade into the earth and disappear, and it isn’t harmless. In fact, the EPA considers dog poop to be an environmental pollutant in the same category as insecticides and toxic chemical waste. Dog waste can contain bacteria, parasites, and viruses, and when it isn’t promptly removed the levels of these harmful contaminants will rise. The waste washes into the water supply, and these contaminants can then infect and sicken humans and other animals. Dog waste will also attract pests such as flies and fleas. These insects, too, spread illnesses, further increasing the possibility of harm. With over 4.4 billion pounds of dog waste produced each year, that is a lot of potential damage to the environment and our health.
And it isn’t just dog waste that is the problem. Waste from factory farmed animals releases massive amounts of pollutants into waterways and methane gas into the air. Factory farmed animals just in the United States produce over 360 million tons of waste in a year. That waste is not treated before being disposed of but is stored in lagoons and then used as fertilizer. This untreated waste leaks into groundwater and runs off into waterways causing contamination.
The Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists designated the first week of April as International Pooper Scooper Week in order to raise awareness of the problem of poop. In honor of International Pooper Scooper Week, here are some things you can do to help alleviate the problem of too much poop.
The first and most basic thing you can do as a dog parent is to pick up after your dog every time he poops. If you use the bag method, it is best to use a biodegradable or compostable waste bag so that you don’t add to plastic pollution. But remember, picking up the poop is just the first step – it is crucial that you take the next step and dispose of the bag appropriately. While more people are picking up the poop, we are also seeing a rapid rise in the number of these brightly covered bags all over our trails, in our streams, and hanging in our trees. You can help alleviate that problem by throwing away any you see along your walks.
You can also use a pooper scooper to pick up the waste and deposit it into a lined garbage can or, even better, drop it into an in-ground dog waste disposal system that breaks down poop much like a composter breaks down food scraps. If you don’t want to or can’t pick up the poop yourself, hire a pet waste removal company that will send someone to your home to remove the waste for you.
The problem of factory farmed animals is a much tougher one to solve, but there are things that can be done, and we must work to demand that these practices be put into place. When animals are pasture raised rather than factory farmed, regenerative agricultural practices can be implemented, including using manure compost and anaerobic manure digesters to use animal waste as an asset instead of a polluting by-product. Pasture raising not only limits the negative side effects of untreated animal waste, it helps the earth by not overloading it with more farmed animals than it can sustain, and while offering a more humane existence for the animals themselves. One way that we can create change in this area is by voting with our wallets. When you buy meat, be sure to buy only pasture raised. Locally sourced and organic is even better. And reducing or even eliminating meat consumption is the most effective way to counter the consequences of factory farms. By going vegetarian, reducetarian, or vegan, you’ll be helping the planet, animals, and your health.
It may not be the best part of being a dog parent, but picking up poop is one of the most important parts. If you haven’t been diligent about cleaning up dog waste before now, let International Pooper Scooper Week be your chance to start this new environmentally friendly habit. Your dog, your neighbors, and the Earth will thank you.