Ever wonder how much plastic pollution your furry kids’ poop bags create?

If so, you’re in the right place! (With a special welcome to folks who scanned the sidewalk-QR code.)

Dog-poop bags (DPBs) are a “very short-term fix with terrible long-term implications,” writes Jemima Kiss in The Guardian. “What we’re actually doing is preserving organic matter in an ecologically expensive plastic bag and sending it to an environment–a landfill–where it cannot decompose.”

Roughly ten million tons of dog waste and over 500 million plastic doggie bags end up in landfills each year

Her piece goes on to advocate for controlled composting of dog poo, which seems like a heavy lift in areas where, ya know, that’s not a thing yet… including Atlanta.

In another post advocating for a green product called “Pooch Paper” (I’ve not used that product but it looks like a great option) Jeffrey Bonior writes about the scourge of plastics in landfills. “Plastic bags can take from 500 to 1,000 years to break down in a landfill, if they break down at all. And the plastic bags that do degrade in the landfill don’t break down completely but instead become microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment and enter the air that we breathe.”

So, not only are conventional DPBs derived from dirty sources, they continue to damage ecosystems long after they’re disposed.

Many recent articles have sounded the alarm on scourge of derivative micro-plastics: floating in the air. sloshing around waterways. they’re even found in placentas and newborns (you read that right).

So what can we do?

Sustainable backstory

As a 20-year resident of Midtown Atlanta’s Garden District I’ve been working all angles to make our property sustainable, with zero plastic waste and:

  • harvested rainwater
  • composted food waste
  • solar panels
  • compostable kitchen trash bags
  • recycling all single-use plastics (to the extent they *really are* recycled)
  • earth-friendly detergents and soap
  • ban on all RoundUp products
  • and, yes, sustainable DPBs

I’d been using BioBag’s doggie bags for years with my sweet, 17-year-old Rat Terrier Triscuit (who passed last July) and I’m fully obsessed. BioBags are compostable and easy to fit in all types of dispensers—and they don’t create plastic waste.

‘Fly, fly, fly’: Celebrating life and legacy of Triscuit Pollock (2005-2022)

What’s more, green products like BioBags are not derived from dirty fossil-fuel. (more on that in a moment.)

One day I got a wild idea: I wrote BioBag and asked if they’d be willing to provide a dispenser and bags outside my house on the sidewalk. They said yes!

Ditch petroleum-based bags

If you’re still wavering on whether to make the switch, don’t forget how DPBs are double-trouble: majority of DPBs you see in stores is derived from fossil-fuel sources. And, when those plastic bags *finally* break down (minimum 100 years to decompose; some take 1,000 years), they end up as microplastics in the ocean. Or worse, as mentioned above.

If that grocery bag you saved for dog droppings is a secondary use, the plastic ultimately still ends up in a landfill where its lifespan will outlast all of us.

What’s more, not all compostable bags are created equal—the difference between “biodegradable” and “compostable” is one with which you should familiarize yourself. “Because ‘biodegradable’ is an unregulated term, it merely implies being eco-friendly while often being the opposite,” says GoodStartPackaging. “By comparison, compostable materials are environmentally superior.”

If you think you’re doing a good deed by reusing a single-use plastic bag from CVS or a supermarket, I urge you to rethink that. Even if picking up dog poop is a secondary use, the plastic ultimately still ends up in a landfill where its lifespan will outlast all of us.

Commit to changing your buying practices

typical, overflowing trash bin after a weekend of throwing plastic away

When city-trash bins sit there overflowing with discarded, single-use plastics I get severe agita. And some neighbors in Midtown are still bagging their recycling in plastic, which is a no-no and could mean those spent containers you wanted recycled will just get chucked in a landfill. Recycling itself is fraught by politics and logistical nightmares, so it’s on us to change our practice in what we ultimately throw away.

Only way to be 100% sure is to seek out green products from the jump—and cut out fossil-fuel products entirely.

I realize Amazon is a gross monopoly, but it’s also a great source for sustainable products. I purchase my compostable kitchen bags there, as well as many other products that are impossible to find anywhere else. Search “compostable dog poop bags” and you’ll be presented with myriad choices to help reduce plastic waste currently plaguing all aspects of everyday life.

In a small-but-critical way, both you and your furry kids can contribute to a healthier planet by picking up their poop with non-harmful alternatives. And THAT will keep our #GardenDistrictGreen. ♻️

Will Pollocksideways is a perpetually crabby New York City escapee based in Midtown Atlanta. He’s a freelance multimedia journalist, media analyst and author of three books (award-winning Pizza for Good & Leaving Triscuit), and his first children’s book, Gentle with Gertie.

In 2001, Will earned his Masters from The Medill School of Journalism, graduating with highest honors from the magazine sequence. As permanent member of Journalism’s National Honors Society, he’s been active in monitoring, writing and blogging about media and journalism ever since he graduated.

Obsessed with good storytelling and journalistic excellence, Will uses snark, humor and reason to distill dumb shit and make it fun. He’s a seeker/maker of non-consensus news, and helps you cure crankies by finding the nut in every story.

As for-profit media continues to fail us, it’s more important than ever to find reliable sources. Authentic storytelling exists—you just have to look for it. On this blog you’ll get ideas, not ideology. Sass with class. Reporting with rapport. Evidence with a touch of evil. You get the idea.

Support independent authors, writers, artists, journalists and professionals. Buy a book, leave a review, start a discussion. Show solidarity so that we can achieve greater balance and, in the end, learn more.

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