Monday, October 15, 2012

Solid Waste Management for Dogs

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
Help Keep it Green

Wow; is that a compelling title or what?! For some weeks now I've had the pleasure of viewing a dumpster and porta-potty outside my office window. As I watch my neighbors walk by, I frequently see a bag of poop being dropped into the dumpster. That may seem like the logical place for it. It's all trash, after all.

Hmmm....Here's the thing. The dumpster contains pressure treated lumber that was used to build a dock prior to the 1994 removal of this particular product from the market. I won't bore you with all the toxic materials that could have been used on this lumber, but trust me in saying it is long and scary. That said, this dumpster full of toxin-laden wood is pretty dangerous stuff. It shouldn't be burned as firewood (although this is frequently done) because this releases chemicals and toxins into our atmosphere.

My Glorious View :(
When I looked up the guidelines for disposal I was appalled to learn that the federal government does not have rules for placing such hazardous building materials in a hazmat (aka hazardous materials) dump. It can actually be taken to any dump that accepts general building materials. Ugg. So arsenic, chromium, copper, creosote and more are likely going to be seeping into the ground for hundreds of years, all due to the thousands...maybe millions...of docks built with these materials before 1994.

One brief statement I found indicated that some facilities provide heavily lined dumps specifically for hazardous building materials. These serve to reduce the seepage into groundwater from such materials. I'm not convinced that they're permanently secure; but they're better than just dropping the discards into the ground. Perhaps this is where our retired electronics also go after all their components are recycled or reused.

New methods of preservation are in use now and today's dock lumbers are much more Eco-friendly. Pressure treated lumber is not the greenest stuff on the planet, even with today's new standards. Recycled plastic bags are now made into decking and this gives new life to these toxic dregs of our modern world. The wood being removed due to disruption by gigantic tree roots is now being replaced and redesigned to retain the structural integrity of our dock. We'll see how this round goes. Check back in 30 years!

Watching the wood piling up, along with the poop bags intermingled in the mix, I couldn't help but wonder about the synergies that would occur when these materials end up decomposing over many years in the same dump. Add the plastic bags that those doggie "doodies" are contained in and we've got a treasure trove of  toxic stuff that would take a chemist to determine the outcome of, say 50 years from now.

I just checked my supply of flushable poop bags and felt a little better. That's one hazardous material (referring to the poop, not the bag, which is made of a dissolvable and biodegradable material) that is being about as properly disposed of as it can be, in our sewer system
Blog the Change
I hope to add a Doggie Dooley (outdoor pet waste composter) one of these days when there are no more contractors working in the yard, digging and breaking things, almost daily. Add to that I have one of those super pooper scoopers that works for picking up deposits left by our local bear (yes, I'm serious!) that lives in the woods behind our home. Believe me, when he drops it in our yard, it can't be missed or picked up with a XL poop bag. No way. No how.

All this digression was simply to remind you that picking up after your dog goes beyond the bag. Think about the place it goes and what it ends up there with. They all decompose together and chemistry class happens. Let's look out for our Earth. It's the only one we have. If you don't do it for you, do it for them.


Heather said...

The doggie dooley is a FANTASTIC idea and it DOES work... but make sure your ground drains properly: not too fast and not too slow. My ground has a lot of clay in it... the poo turned to liquid properly, but didn't drain NEARLY fast enough (basically, I went on a 2 week vacation and it was still full of liquid when I returned....). Ground too soft/sandy and it won't have a chance to liquify before draining. Just my findings :)

Heather said...

Oh also, you can DIY the dooley MUCH cheaper than buying pre-made... just google DIY doggie dooley or DIY dog septic system.

Schooner and Skipper said...

Thanks Heather I will look up DIY Doggie dooley and septic system.

Pamela | Something Wagging This Way Comes said...

Great post. So many people feel they're doing a great thing picking up their dog poop. And yes, it is so much better to toss it than allowing waste to sit on the ground and seep into our lakes and rivers.

But you're right that those plastic bags of poo will be accompanied by all kinds of toxic things in the landfill for generations to come.

I'm thrilled to be using flushable bags too. It's more friendly to the environment and easier than letting poop pile up in the trash for a month until we have enough to put out.

I'll second Heather's warnings about poop composting, however. It's a great option for people who don't have city sewage. But you need to make sure you have good drainage. Doggy Dooley actually recommends 6 feet of good soil which I've never had.

BtC4animals said...

The internet dog just ate my comment so I'm trying again.

I love the Doggie Dooley idea, DIY or otherwise! It makes me think...

We too live on clay, Heather. So, when we do a home construction project in the next year and have a backhoe on hand, I'd love to dig out a space and backfill with more pourous substrate to make liquification and flow balance out. I'll have to look into that.

Terrific Post, Carrie.Thanks so much for Blogging the Change!

PS: See you at BarkWorld!

Kim Clune

Pup Fan said...

Great post - I doubt that many people think about this when picking up the poop. Thanks for posting about this today.

Be the Change for Animals
I Still Want More Puppies

dog cake recipes said...

great experience.........

thanks for sharing with us........

Amy said...

Thank you for an enlightened view on the toxic brew in landfills and all of the chemicals that we so unthinkingly dump into the environment. I've never heard of flushable bags and will look for them now.

Dawn said...

We use biodegradable poo bags! :0)

Aimee said...

woah. I never thought about that. For years, I've always thrown my dogs poop on the community bins of our area.

Guess I'll have no choice but to be responsible now :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing..

GizmoGeodog said...

Hope the dumpster is gone by now :) A local friend installed the Doggie Doolie but the ground in her yard is too sandy and it just doesn't work properly for her...Flushable bags are on my "to try" list...Thanks for linking up to our Scoop That Poop hop today!

garthriley said...

Thanks for pawticipating in the blog hop!

Be careful about flushing those "flushable" bags. Mom talked to our local wastewater treatment plant guys and they said the bags could cause problems at the treatment plant.


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