So many of us love our cats and dogs like family members, but we may not think about their impact on the environment, specifically what to do with their waste. This requires cleaning up by their human caretakers, and can be handled in an environmentally-conscious way.
For cats, addressing the waste they create is straightforward: cat litter. The traditional cat litters that contain clay for clumping are not good environmental choices, as the sodium bentonite (a specific type of clay) comes from strip mining.
So what to do? There are several biodegradable cat litters (SweatScoop, Feline Pine, and Cedarific Natural Cat Litter to name a few) that work well and are less harmful to the environment.
Clumped liquid waste can be safely flushed if using a biodegradable litter. With cat poop, there is some debate about whether it is better to flush the solid waste or put it in the landfill because of potential parasite contamination. Rather than enter that debate, I will focus on what to do with used litter when it needs to be refreshed.
When a boxful of litter has outlived its usefulness, I will simply take it outside and dump it directly into my bad compost. That’s it. I’ve done this with a few types of biodegradable litters and each of them compost easily.
When it comes to dogs, it is a bit more complicated to be more environmentally conscious. Although much attention has been given to reducing plastic bags while shopping, most dog owners rely on plastic bags to pick up their dog’s poop and throw it into the trash. That is a lot of plastic bags when you consider the average lifespan of a dog and the number of dogs who poop each day!
Here is an interesting article that discusses some of the challenges: The Guardian
The ideal environmental scenario would be to carry a reusable container on a walk and bring the poop home to compost, like a small bucket with a lid that could also hold a small shovel. There is even a reusable bag/disc which (based on the just two Amazon reviews) has yet to catch on!
Composting dog poop is very feasible and there are many videos and sites that offer relatively inexpensive dog poop composters and instructions of how to do it. Here are a few:
So even if you balk at the idea of composting pet waste, hopefully you’ve started to think about composting in general. It truly is a relatively simple and inexpensive way to get rid of all kinds of waste. We have explored many of those ideas in recent posts. I hope some of you have given more thought to starting a compost pile or have expanded what you compost. As I mentioned in the first post about this topic, it is my #1 waste reduction technique and all can be done from the comfort of your yard.