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GhostBuster and Marshmallow Test the Eco-Friendly Clean Healthy Bowl

If you're worried about the cleanlinesses of your dog's dish, these single-use, biodegradable, and compostable bowls could be the solution.

Heather Marcoux  |  Sep 9th 2015


Washing dishes is one of my least favorite household chores, but it’s one of those things that’s just gotta be done. I’m not gonna eat off a dirty plate, and my dogs aren’t either. My girl Marshmallow suffers from persistent tear stains, and my boy GhostBuster is just a big furry pile of allergies — I know neither of them are going to do well with any kind of dish that’s harboring bacteria.

That’s why we don’t use plastic dog dishes and why we wash our stainless and porcelain ones with bleach. But wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to scrub our pet bowls? That’s the idea behind Clean Healthy Bowls — disposable, recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable pet bowls that promise a bacteria-free bowl at every meal, without all the washing. The company behind the bowls sent me a free sample pack of these single-use dishes to test out with my messy beasts.

GhostBuster was very interested in the little bowls. It's like he knew there would eventually be food in there.

GhostBuster sat down at the kitchen table as I unpacked the little bowls. He obviously knew what purposes these dishes serve. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

The instructions say these paper plate-like bowls can be used as standalone dishes or as a dish liner. In my case, I used the bowls alone without anything under them, as Marshmallow’s stainless steel bowl was too small for these to work as a liner, and GhostBuster’s was way too large. The Clean Healthy Bowls are definitely on the small side, and the website says they’re meant for small dogs, but that didn’t stop my giant boy GhostBuster from giving these little dishes a go — his mouth still fit perfectly, and he ate almost as fast as Marshmallow.

My little dog and my big dog both ate from the petite dishes.

My little dog and my big dog both ate from the petite dishes. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

In fact, I would say GhostBuster did better with these bowls than Marshmallow did — but that may just be because she seemed to think it was a bread bowl or something. My husband always serves Marshy breakfast in bed while I sleep in, and on the morning we tried the Clean Healthy Bowls I heard her making a bit of a ruckus (she usually just snuggles back into her dog bed for an extra snooze after emptying her bowl). I sat up in my bed and looked down at the floor to find Marshy tearing apart and chewing up the empty Clean Healthy Bowl.  

Marshmallow tried to eat her Clean Healthy Bowl for dessert.

Marshmallow tried to eat her Clean Healthy Bowl for dessert. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

The company says these are nontoxic and gluten free, so I guess there are worse things she could take a bite out of (like the cat poop she finds so tasty). I wonder if the fact that the bowls are made from wheat-straw fiber (the remaining plant material after the wheat grain and chaff have been extracted) made her think they were edible (they are not).

As Marshmallow proved, the Clean Healthy Bowls are pretty easy to tear apart.

Despite what Marshmallow thinks, this is not a bread bowl. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

After that first episode, I kept a closer eye on Marshmallow during feeding time. She did better at lunch, which is when she gets her pumpkin supplement mixed in with her kibbles (GhostBuster doesn’t get any pumpkin, because, as I’ve mentioned, he is allergic to everything). This is a little messier than Marshy’s dry food breakfasts and dinners, so I was happy to use the Clean Healthy Bowls for this meal. If you’ve never served pumpkin mush to your pets, trust me when I say that the bowl needs to be cleaned right after lunch if you don’t want to be scrubbing off hardened squash bits later. The Clean Healthy Bowl stood up well to the wet pumpkin, and I just tossed the bowl in the garbage when lunch was over (before Marshy could try to have her dish for dessert).

Marshy's pumpkin spice kibble concoction can make for a messy bowl.

Marshy’s pumpkin spice kibble concoction can make for a messy bowl. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

Despite the eco-friendly and compostable nature of the bowls, I did feel a little guilty using a single-use product like this. Even if these bowls wouldn’t add to the landfill, they could be seen as wasteful, especially if your household is watching its pennies. I’m the kind of person who uses an old-school safety razor rather than paying $17 for disposable blades, so I’m pretty reluctant to spend money on things that I’m just going to throw away (compostable dog poop bags being the exception, for super-obvious reasons).

Also, depending on how often you feed your pup, you could find yourself running through Clean Healthy Bowls pretty quickly. Because my two dogs eat three times a day, the eight-bowl sample pack was just over a day’s supply for me. If I were feeding my pups out of Clean Healthy Bowls on a daily basis, I’d be going through six a day. The bowls are currently available for purchase online, and the company recently signed up with major distributors, so we can expect to see these in some stores eventually.

Dogster scorecard for Clean and Healthy Bowls

Quality: Great! I’ll give the makers an A on this. The bowls stand up well to mushy food and water (just not to Marshmallow’s teeth), with nothing soaking through.
Style: I like how the bowls have little handles designed into them — I think that would be really handy if you were using them as a dish liner rather than a standalone dish.
Function: Serves its purpose, but could be a little bigger for GhostBuster-sized dogs.
Creativity: I never would have thought of disposable pet bowls myself, so a gold star for creativity goes to the inventor.
Value: The Clean Healthy Bowls ring up at $4.43 USD for a pack of 25 (or $45.24 for a pack of 300), so the cost per day (just over 90 cents in our case, if you trust my math) is certainly is something to consider before trading in your reusable bowls for these disposable ones.

Bottom Line

While I don’t think I would be buying these for day-to-day use, I can certainly see myself picking up a pack if my dogs and I were going on a road trip or if we were having a pet-sitter stay with our pups for a few days. I guess I see these more as an occasional convenience item than a daily necessity, but maybe I would feel differently if I didn’t have a dishwasher (and, if I’m really being honest, a wonderful husband who often washes the dog bowls).

What about you? Would you spend money on single-use dog bowls? Tell me in the comments!

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About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.