Barney’s Tips: Staying Green On The Road

by Scot Mills

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For Barney, life is one big sniffing safari interspersed with naps, snacks and laps, which is how it should be for a little rescue terrier living life on the road with us in our RV. Naturally, when it comes time for relief, he takes care of his business while one of us stands patiently nearby with baggy in hand, ready for the cleanup—the life of a prince, indeed!

Unfortunately, while we are in the majority of folks who pick up after their best friend out of respect to others and the environment, not everyone does. And, even though many who leave their dog’s waste on the ground do so under the assumption that dog poop is a natural fertilizer that is easily biodegradable, it is not so. In fact, there is a reason it isn’t used by gardeners and farmers to produce bumper crops— the concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus is so high in pet waste that it does the opposite of fertilizing, and instead, kills vegetation.

This is why most dog parks have little or no healthy grass in them, and you will also notice that when a dog’s droppings are left on a lawn, a dead, brown spot usually appears under the area. Plus, it takes a long time for dog poop to decompose, and it can also introduce foreign parasites and pathogens into regions that can endanger sensitive ecosystems and wildlife.

And of course, there is also the issue of being considerate to those who would like to enjoy a nice walk without any frantic shoe-scraping afterward!

About Those Plastic Bags

Another concern associated with pet waste is the amount of plastic we use in picking it up, which not only adds more waste to our landfills, but requires petroleum to produce.

For this, we have a couple of solutions for cleaning up after Barney to help reduce the amount of plastic being produced and thrown away:

Biodegradable bags. While it is true that a dog’s leavings can take over a year to decompose, plastic takes even longer. This means that when you clean up after your pooch with a plastic bag, the length of time it takes for everything to biodegrade is increased by, oh, say a thousand years or so.

However, by using “bio-bags,” which are made from plant starches, vegetable oils, and compostable polymers, the decomposition time can be reduced to around 3 to 6 months. So, rather than continuing to extract petroleum from the earth to make more plastic with, we can instead use a plant-based option that will return to the earth even faster than the poop inside it.

Re-use whenever possible. While we do most of our shopping with re-usable produce and grocery bags, we sometimes forget to bring them with us, which means taking home the occasional plastic produce or shopping bag from the store. However, rather than just tossing them in the trash (they are rarely recyclable), we like to remember that every plastic bag we reuse just once cuts our plastic consumption by half.

So, since we also sometimes run out of Barney’s Bio-bags, store bags become the perfect backup to keep on hand. Yes, they will be taking up room in the landfill for the next 450 to 1,000 years, but at least it is one less bag being tossed away after a single use.

Other Ways to Reduce Plastic Consumption

When it comes to recycling, reusing, and composting, Barney has a few tricks at his paws. (Okay, maybe it is his mama and papa who have the tricks, but Barney is SUCH a good boy that we like to give him all the credit!)

For instance, we avoid using those convenient little zipper lock recloseable sandwich bags for carrying pet snacks and portioned-out food. Instead, whenever we buy things such as tortillas or granola that come in packaging with a recloseable zipper seal, we reuse the packaging, which works just as well as any one-use disposable sandwich bag.

And, even when we occasionally use a recloseable sandwich bag, we then reuse the same bag until it wears out and will no longer keep his snacks fresh—something of immense importance to our little doggy!

Plus, you can do the same thing with other disposable plastic containers, such as margarine tubs or yogurt cups, most of which are resealable and therefore handy. In fact, why spend money on plastic containers for storing dog food and snacks when companies provide you with nearly the same thing with their packaging?

A Final Poop Bag Note

Finally, perhaps the biggest no-no of all when it comes to pet waste is leaving a full poop bag to be picked up on the way back during a walk. Not only is this the last thing other walkers would like to see on their strolls, but people often get sidetracked and take alternative routes home, or just forget the bags completely, which means the bag stays where it doesn’t belong—on the ground.

Instead, ALWAYS carry your pet’s waste with you to an appropriate receptacle, no matter how unpleasant it may seem (hint—it’s even less pleasant to see poop bags littering the ground!).

Please, be responsible— always pick up after your pet, and always dispose of waste properly.

So please, be responsible—always pick up after your pet, and always dispose of waste properly. Please also be sure to reuse, recycle and compost whenever possible. And Barney would like to add that tail-wagging is a sustainable activity, so more of that too, please!

Such sage advice from our little prince.

Clever Poop/Bag Carrier

Have you been looking for a poop carrier and bag dispenser? Look no further! This well designed bag is machine washable and is 80% odor-proof. The roll-top design allows for it to be quite compact, while the main compartment has enough room to hold a large dog’s poop. turdlebag.com

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