donate buttonThis is Mike’s fourth entry in the series “Grist dared me to make a change.” Read the first, second, third, fifth, and sixth here. And support his dare with a gift to Grist!

I mentioned my dog, Hank, when I wrote about my epic two-hour trip to the grocery store. Anyone who has a dog probably read that and knew right away about a major source of plastic waste in my life — poo bags.Hank the dogHank loves the planet, too.Photo: Mike SanClements

 I did a quick Google search and found that there are about 77 million pet dogs in the United States. So, let’s see … 77 million times two or three poops a day … well, you can just imagine the staggering number of plastic bags that wind up in our landfills due to pet waste.  

This is a time when paper bags can’t come to the rescue. Realistically, I think picking up dog poo with paper bags would just be too gross. But that doesn’t mean we have to use nonbiodegradable materials which will hang around forever. So on Friday after work I set out to find other options. Also, I wanted to find treats that don’t have plastic packaging. Because who could deny Hank his treats? Look at that face!

bulk dog treatsDog treats — no plastic required.Photo: Mike SanClementsI started by heading over to Petco because I figured this was a place that lots of people have access to in their towns. Check it out! A doggy treat salad bar! So, Petco delivered on the treats without plastic wrapping. They provided plastic bags but had no problem with me using one of our cloth grocery bags from home. Hank can now have treats again!

However, Petco failed to deliver in the more eco-friendly poo bag options. None of their plastic bags appeared to be biodegradable and the plastic bags were all packaged in — yep, you got it — plastic bags.

Too bad. So I hopped back on my bike and rode over to Whole Pets to see what options they had. What I found was that Whole Pets came through in both areas. They had baskets full of unwrapped bones and treats, plus they also sold pet waste bags made from biodegradable cornstarch. Is this an ideal solution? I don’t know. But it’s better than millions of plastic bags being pitched into the trash each year. poo bagsPoop all you want, Hank! Photo: Mike SanClements

My conclusion: Eliminating unnecessary plastic from Hank’s life was pretty simple. Which is nice, considering how difficult it was to eliminate it from MY life. Even if you don’t have access to a place like Whole Pets, I’m sure you could order the biodegradable bags online or ask your local pet store to carry them. 

So go ahead and purge your pup’s life of plastic. It’s easy! 

Tell me how you handle plastic problems for your pet. And support my dare by donating to Grist!