We all know marketing can be misleading. Health Star Ratings, for example, are supposed to guide healthier food choices, and yet these can sometimes yield confusing results. In another example, the plant-based food company Nakula caused a real stir when they mislabeled one of their coconut yogurts as ‘vegan’ when it actually contained honey.
The point is, we can never take marketing at face value. Look into how the Health Star Rating system works and you’ll see why licorice yields a higher Star Rating than Greek yogurt. Look into food labelling legislation and you’ll see there’s no legal requirement to certify ‘vegan’ or ‘plant-based’ claims. Similarly, when you see poop bags labelled as ‘biodegradable’, this claim may not be as well-certified as you think it is. To get you started, here is a breakdown—heh—of three major decomposition buzzwords.
So, marketers don’t give a shit about how biodegradable their poop bags are? They want to push out buzzwords and well-designed packaging to motivate sales? … Well, sometimes, but not always — and we applaud the companies out there that really do care. Sometimes, you just need to look twice and examine that fancy packaging with a critical eye. Here’s how you do it.
Be mindful of the facts and feel free to fact-check
If an organization has claimed their product to be ‘biodegradable’, it may or may not come with a certification. If it does, then this will certainly give you more peace of mind. You could even do further research about the particular certification associated with the product. If, however, the product does not have a certification, then there are a few things to consider.
If you stumble across ‘biodegradable’ poop bags without a certification, this means that the company should have done the legwork themselves. They should have carried out a scientific study proving that the entire item will break down altogether, returning its essence to the universe in a short period of time. The truth is that, if the company didn’t get their claim certified, chances are they didn’t carry out such a study, either. For many organizations, they haven’t the scope to undertake such time-consuming tasks. (So they’d just rather whack on the word and hope for the best.)
If ever you’re unsure about the ‘biodegradable’ claim, you can always contact the manufacturer to verify this. Hey—you’re the customer and you’re within your right to ask! But even if they do assure you that a) the product is certified or b) they did, indeed, carry out a test, this still won’t always hold weight. And in this particular case, it actually won’t be through the fault of the manufacturer. (We’ve roasted them enough.)
Dispose of your poop bags thoughtfully—and not in the way Macca’s means it
There are some things the manufacturers can’t control, and that’s how poop bags are disposed of. The way that you throw them away will dictate how they break down. Even the most environmentally-friendly, earth-endorsed poop bags will not break down if they’re sent to landfill. Yes, you heard that right!
Landfills are a blessing and a curse. In one way, it regulates the distribution of trash. On the other hand, it is such a greenhouse-gas-emitting mass of everything wrong with humanity. Everything is crammed together and nothing can breathe. And when the poop bags are starved of oxygen, they don’t decompose. They just sit there full of dog waste.
Just remember all those times you’ve walked your dog, picked up the poop in a biodegradable bag, and felt so proud of yourself when you popped it in the nearest bin. Little did you know that your little eco-ego boost was unfounded. It’s enough to discourage any environmentalist. But, not to worry, because there are still ways to dispose of the bags thoughtfully—and, as you can clearly see now, this certainly isn’t in the way that Macca’s means it.
1. Take a leaf out of the cats’ book and bury it — Cats really did get this one right. They do what we do when we go camping: dig their own little hole, do what they’ve gotta do, and then hide the evidence. Unfortunately, dogs don’t do this, but you can do it for them—especially if you live in a rural area with plenty of open space. Ensure to bury the poop at least 12.5 centimeters underground, away from water sources and vegetable gardens (to avoid contamination. Dog poop really are little sausages of bacteria). Whether you’re using it to scoop or dig, your pooper scooper is now a super dual-action accessory*! (*Well, actually, not really. You should probably use a sturdier shovel if you’re digging over 12cm below the ground.)
2. Council laws permitting, flush it down the toilet — Dog poop has a different bacterial composition to human poop. It’s not always compatible with our waterways, which is why it’s very important to check your local council’s stance on this before dropping a doggy duce down the dunny. If you get the all-clear, you can scoop the poop and dump it straight in. If you’re using a bag, triple-check that the bag material is toilet pipe-compatible. If you’re feeling unsure about this in any way, it may be best to flush this idea in favor of another.
3. Invest in a dog poop compost bin — This is not to be confused with a regular compost bin! Please do not mix the two! Dog poop is an acidic, plant-burning combination of phosphorus, protein, and nitrogen—ergo, highly incompatible with your garden. If you have the space in your backyard, a dog poop compost bin—which, by the way, is smell-proof—facilitates the most earth-friendly method of disposal yet. You don’t even need to be a perfectionist about this. If it’s only backyard poops filling the bin, then that’s still a whole lot of poop that ain’t going to landfill.
Before we wrap up, there’s just one last thing to note about composting. If you have poop bags that are labelled as ‘compostable’, ensure to pop them in the dog poop compost bin. Again, don’t confuse this with your regular compost bin. If you do, the bags will not be compatible with the ecology. They also won’t be subjected to the conditions that allow for breakdown to happen. This is not unlike the landfill situation described above.
So, should you use biodegradable poop bags?
You absolutely should—provided the claim is certified or backed by science. And you are within your right to research these claims to your conscience’s content. The thing to be mindful of is that earth-friendly disposal of doggy doo is a two-way street. Sure, the manufacturer can do everything in their power to ensure the bag is biodegradable, but how effective this will be is ultimately in your hands. Chuck the bags in landfill and they likely won’t break down. Flush them down your toilet—again, bag material and council laws permitting!—bury the bags 12.5cm below ground, or chuck them in your own dog poop compost bin for best results.
So, which biodegradable poop bags would we recommend? We think Stylish Hound’s bags are totally our bag. These puppies come with global certification TUV S1069 and are completely plastic-free. They’re made from corn starch, which will break down in your dog poop compost bin within three months. Oh, and they come in colorful, eye-catching designs—if aesthetics play into your doggy doo-doo decisions at all. We would recommend the 60-pack, but there are also packs of 15, 30, 120, and 240 available.
So, now that you’re a master of strategic biodegradable poop bag usage, why not invest in some of the most eco-friendly poop bags going around? While it’s not a catch-all pollution solution, it’s a bonafide plastic alternative that will work wonders when disposed of thoughtfully — and not in the way Macca’s means it, either. Take your first step towards a cleaner Earth on your daily doggy walk. Invest in some biodegradable poop bags from Stylish Hound.