Paw Prints in the Sand
Living in San Francisco, we are used to seeing at public places various bins to separate our landfill trash from our compostable scraps and recycling items. We even have a city and county law now that requires you to compost certain items at home or face a fine. I am always on alert now wherever I travel for choosing products and foods that have minimal packaging. I carry my own bags, unless I want a paper bag to reuse later. This thought process extends to my dog too.
As a responsible dog owner in the city, I can’t think of a time when I have not picked up after my dog. Even at the beach, where many leave their pets waste for the sand and sea to claim it, I pick up her poop. I used to be satisfied with reusing plastic bags from the store or my newspaper for this pooper-scooper job. San Francisco doesn’t compost dog poop yet.
Our pets poop carries pathogens that can be harmful to humans, and the compost San Francisco generates is used on multiple landscaping and garden projects. The city government is working on a program that would take the 4% of animal waste that currently goes into the landfill turning it into methane that could be used for fuel.
Until this first of its kind project is complete, we are limited on our options here in San Francisco. The best choice is to flush your pet’s poop down the toilet. This allows it to be treated in a sewage facility, rather than letting untreated poop on the street get washed into the storm drain leading into the bay. In my opinion the next best option for city dwellers is getting compostable bags to pick your dog poop up with.
These biodegradable bags are sold in many stores next to the Ziplock bags because you can also use them for holding your kitchen scraps before putting them into the compost bin. Though in San Francisco these bag still needs to go into the trash once you use it for your pet, when it ends up in landfill, you can feel better that the bag will decompose quickly.
Reducing Carbon Paw Prints
A carbon footprint calculates the amount of emissions we release into the environment. With the new widespread awareness of global warming and our impact on the environment, we can extend our efforts into reducing the carbon paw prints left by our pets.
Here are five ways to start:
Feed your animal local brands of pet food. Brands that have been produced locally require less fuel to deliver to stores. You can also choose to feed your pet a diet of locally grown produce and meats.
Choose dry foods instead of wet. Dry foods require less packaging than canned wet foods and still give your pet a nutritionally sound diet. Food left behind by the animal can be used in a compost heap.
Put pet food in stainless steel bowls. This reduces the amount of waste if you have previously used paper plates or plastic bowls to feed them.
Recycle your pillows and bedding. Turn your cast offs into pull toys. We took some of our old shirts and a sheet to use as filler for a new dog bed. Cleo loved it because it smells like us and we saved money.
Compost your pet poop. If you have a backyard and the skills make your own, otherwise consider buying one like the Tumbleweed Pet Poop Converter. It consists of two sturdy nesting boxes with a lid, which form a neat, compact portable unit. The worms eat and breed in the top box. This has a perforated base to allow any liquid waste to drain through to the bottom (collector) box. The "worm poo" or worm castings remain in the top box and can be harvested as desired. The bottom or catcher box collects the valuable liquid waste that can be diluted and used as a fertilizer on your garden.