Green Your Pet Care: What to do about waste?, 12°

By Linda Tellar

For those who are working toward *getting green*, solutions often boil down to "moderation". One pet per person in your household is ideal. That way the person doesn't become overwhelmed by having to care for too many animals, and the pet is living in a healthier, more caring environment.

As pet-owners, we love everything about our pets. Well, *almost* everything. There is the issue of what to do with their poop!

There are now several biodegradable kitty litters available made from corn/wheat/pine flakes or recycled paper. The clumping varieties clump just as well as clay and are better for the environment. For dogs, whether you're walking him in public areas, or just letting him "do his business" in your yard, it is highly recommended to pick up the poop and dispose of it properly.

There are several environment-friendly ways of disposing of your pet's waste products:

1. Put it in the Garbage

This is the *preferred* method in most areas, as landfills are designed to deal with the waste, however the use of biodegradable bags will help by not adding plastic to the landfill. Garbage collection sometimes has restrictions, such as "only 10% of your garbage can contain pet waste". *Other* locations will NOT accept pet waste in the garbage. Be sure to research the regulations in your area, so you are aware of the rules. They are there for a reason.

2. Bury or Compost

This is the next-best preferred method but keep in mind the following:only use this method on ornamental gardens (not food/veggie gardens or lawns). Pet waste contains pathogens or worms/pests that may end up living in your lawn/soil for years, contaminating the groundwater, or worse,infecting humans or other pets who may come into contact with it. If you use this method,
a) bury it *deep*,
b) mix or chop it in with the soil, and
c) ensure it isn't too close to a waterway.

If done improperly, burying or composting can be the equivalent of having a broken sewer system.

3. Flush It!

If you're on a *septic system*, this is NOT a good idea. Pet waste contains things like hair and ash that can clog your drain field or fill your septic tank prematurely. However, if you are on a *city sewer system*,
flushing is usually acceptable because it ultimately goes to a sewage treatment plant. If you are flushing cat poop from the litter box, be sure to use a flushable/biodegradable litter!

4. Pet Waste Digesters

The same problems can occur with a digester system as with composting and burying. There are still diseases and worms that can be harmful to humans and animals. Exposure can cause ringworm, cramps, diarrhea,intestinal illness, and serious kidney disorders.

5. Don't Dispose At All

You've probably noticed that if you leave dog poop on the lawn, it causes burn spots and discoloring. Imagine what happens when it leeches into the water supply! Dog and cat poop are NOT good fertilizer due to their concentration of toxins. All pet waste should be disposed of by one of the above four methods.

There are many rewards to pet-ownership, but it is our responsibility as a *green family* to make sure their waste is disposed of in the healthiest way possible in order to ensure we are creating a *healthy family *environment. Each region may have different regulations specific to the unique needs of that area, so if you're looking for *green solutions*, the best place to start is by researching the websites or publications of your local government.

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