Pet Parent Hacks for Picking Up Poop
Do you live in a city or state that has banned plastic bags? One of the best known plastic bag bans is in California. It went into effect a few years ago.
This ban It prevents stores from providing single-use plastic bags at checkout altogether. This can be a problem for pet parents that might like to “recycle” their plastic shopping bags by using them to pick up after their pet. But when you’re no longer getting those plastic shopping bags, you can’t stop picking up poop. You have to find an alternative.
Enter the poop bag business, which is something Pawsome Doggie got into in 2018. We sell our lightly scented bags on our site and also on Amazon. However, we’ve run into a snafu that I’m sure other sellers of poop bags are facing as well—we cannot sell to customers who live in California. At least via Amazon we can't. We continue to be able to ship our degradable bags to plenty of customers in California via our independent site. Go figure.
I’ve read the California statute front to back and asked professionals to weigh in on it, and the consensus is this: There is nothing in the statute that prohibits the sale of poop bags. Sure, poop bags technically are single use bags but they are not carry out bags. And that’s how the statute explains the ban.
“Single-use carryout bag” means a bag made of plastic, paper, or other material that is provided by a store to a customer at the point of sale and that is not a recycled paper bag or a reusable grocery bag that meets the requirements of Section 42281.
(2) A single-use carryout bag does not include either of the following:
(A) A bag provided by a pharmacy pursuant to Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 4000) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code to a customer purchasing a prescription medication.
(B) A nonhandled bag used to protect a purchased item from damaging or contaminating other purchased items when placed in a recycled paper bag, a reusable grocery bag, or a compostable plastic bag.
(C) A bag provided to contain an unwrapped food item.
(D) A nonhandled bag that is designed to be placed over articles of clothing on a hanger.
Clearly, I’m not in a position to argue with Amazon about its interpretation of the California plastic bag ban. What I can do, though, is help pet owners living there—or in other locations with similar bans in place—figure out how they can pick up after their pet without plastic bags. In fact, I spoke with a handful of dog owners living in such places about how they do the right thing of picking up after their pet without using any “banned” substances in doing so. Call it pet parent hacks for picking up poop.
Pet Parent Poop Hack #1
Many talked about finding creative ways to reuse plastic-like bags that they already had at home, such as the bags that newspapers are delivered in (assuming they still get a physical newspaper delivered) or the liners in cereal boxes. The bags from bagged salad or other vegetables work, too. Some even stock up on food baggies (like you might use for packing lunches) and used them to clean up poop.
Pet Parent Poop Hack #2
You can turn air-filled shipping pillows into poop bags. I decided to recycle the air-filled shipping pillows that online stores use in their packages and turn them into my own poop bags. It was really simply. First, I separated each “pillow.” Then I took a pair of scissors and cut one end open. And voila free poop bag. See photo below.
Pet Parent Poop Hack #3
Some pet parents are simply spending more on poop bags marketed as biodegradable or compostable. That’s what Steven Bazil of Birchrunville, Pennsylvania, decided to do, not because of a bag ban but after realizing how wasteful plastic bags could be. He had this epiphany after serving on his town’s sustainability committee.
“I am the proud parent of five dogs and six cats, which makes me an expert in pet waste disposal,” he says. “I used to use grocery bags to pick up waste and clean the cat litter boxes but learned how wasteful that was. I’m no granola eating, Birkenstock-wearing hippie, but I do realize we need to protect our environment.”
Of course the challenge with compostable or biodegradable poop bags is they each have their own drawbacks. With a compostable bag it’s not safe to put a full bag in your compost pile lest you contaminate the other organic matter in there. So you’ll need to find an easy way to dispose of the poop before burying the bag in the compost. Dumping in the toilet likely works best. However, there are some municipalities that offer composting services where pet waste is accepted. If you happen to live in such a place, that’s a win-win.
And with a biodegradable bag tossed in the trash, it won’t actually break down unless the landfill has optimal conditions. According to experts, trash that is buried simply won’t break down because it lacks access to air. So spending hard-earned money on biodegradable bags that are just going to sit in landfills anyway really doesn’t solve the waste-reduction problem. In order to make these bags work for you, you may need to create your own backyard landfill where you can control the elements and the environment.
Speaking of the environment, some might argue that biodegradable products aren’t as “green” as they seem. One study out of North Carolina State University showed that so-called biodegradable items still let off methane, a known greenhouse gas.
Pet Parent Poop Hack #4
Bury the poop. That's what Nicole Ellis from Rover.com’s Dog People Panel suggests: “The easiest solution to this problem is to use a hand-held scoop or shovel to transfer dog waste from the ground to a composting bin, toilet or hole in the ground.”
Pet Parent Poop Hack #5
Let someone else do the "dirty" work. If none of these DIY options work for you, you can always hire a service to pick up poop for you. Companies like DoodyCalls specialize in scooping poop—for a fee, of course. You determine how often they’ll come to your yard for clean up. Then you don’t have to fuss with or worry about plastic bags for backyard clean up
Of course, we'd be thrilled if you gave our lavender scented poop bags a try. In fact, we've created a discount code just for you. Type in code POOPHACK when you check out, and you'll save 10 percent on your purchase.