I don’t use plastic bags to pick up dog poop. Plastic takes about a thousand years to degrade — no exaggeration — and as a nature-loving Taurus, I just can’t do that to my guardian planet. But taking a closer look at some “green” poop bags can get a Dogster reader wondering. Some bags are made of genetically modified (GMO) corn. Yes, it biodegrades, but as it does, it releases whatever chemical pesticide was combined with the corn’s DNA in the genetic engineering process.
I stopped one day to consider the bright-blue hue of the poop bags I used to favor, then looked closely at the packaging they came in: It’s made of PVC, aka polyvinyl chloride, one of the most environmentally incorrect substances. Yes, I’m talking about Bags on Board. What, exactly, is the point of purchasing a biodegradable poop bag if it’s packaged in such a toxic material? At least I was buying the unscented version — Bags on Board also markets scented poop bags, which release chemical fragrances into the atmosphere, too. Nice! And the bags are sold in rolls, each of which contains a black plastic core that’s not recyclable. That adds up to a lot of unrecyclable plastic cores assaulting the planet.
By this point, the “green” poop bag exercise felt pitifully defeatist, if not outright anti-environmentalist. So, I wanted to know: Is the road to hell paved with good intentions? Am I headed there in a handbasket for using Bags on Board all those years? Is there even such a thing as a truly green dog poop bag? If you’re wondering how green is your dog waste bag, here’s a list of seven options. Read the straight poop before you scoop.
This plain, brown bag is made of Mater-Bi, the first completely biodegradable and compostable bio-polymer, invented by the Italian research company Novamont. It’s made from “renewable raw materials of agricultural origin” and from non-genetically modified starch. This bioplastic also reduces gas emissions and the consumption of energy and non-renewable resources. As it biodegrades, it doesn’t release pollutants. Plus, it’s packaged in recyclable cardboard. The city of San Francisco (home of Dogster HQ) selected this brand (in kitchen bag form) to promote its residential food waste collection program, delivering more than 100,000 rolls of BioBags to residents within the county to help raise awareness about diverting food and other biodegradable waste away from landfills.
Made in the U.S.A., this thick bag is green in color as well as concept: Composed of renewable resources such as corn, the product meets ASTM D6400 specifications for biodegradability and compostability, and is compostable by California standards. Also, it’s packaged in recyclable cardboard. The company’s website states that “PoopBags is committed to supporting the U.S. economy and reducing our carbon pawprints through shorter transportation time and renewable resources.
This Canadian company prides itself on making bags “big enough even for a Great Dane’s pile,” and they’re naturally scented with lavender to make picking up an aromatherapeutic experience. Rolled onto a recycled-paper core, the bags are formulated to speed up the disintegration process “many hundred times faster than ordinary plastic bags.” The company promises their bags are completely broken apart into natural carbon dioxide and water in as little as 24 months.
This company’s motto is “Save Our Planet, One Poop at a Time.” Its signature product doesn’t look green — it’s actually translucent whitish in color — but it actually is green in concept: a water soluble poop bag that’s not only biodegradable, but (as its name suggests) flushable, too. It’s made of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), a water-soluble synthetic polymer that is odorless, non-toxic, fully degradable, and dissolvable.
These cutely named bags (a witty fashionista reference to the iconic fragrance Chanel No. 5) are biodegradable. They come in packages of three or eight rolls (each roll containing 15 bags, secured with a paper wrapper), packaged in plastic with a paper label. However, a package of 18 rolls comes in a recyclable paper box, with no plastic — so it’s more environmentally mindful to buy these in bulk.
These “oxo-biodegradable” bags, found in dispensers at many dog parks around the country, are made with an additive that allows them to oxidize then biodegrade into CO2, water, and biomass. “Our bags release less CO2 than a leaf,” the company proudly states. “We also chose to avoid the ‘corn controversy’ by not using corn based additives or films in our bags …. [The bags] are not made with unnecessary size or thickness that only leads to unnecessary material, with no real consumer benefit, being disposed of in landfills.”
While these bags do not claim to be biodegradable, they are made from tapioca starch, a renewable resource and a non-GMO crop. Plus, the dye used to color the dark green bags comes from natural sources. So they’re presumably preferable to chemically dyed and scented, so-called “green” bags. What’s more, they are rolled up tight, without an irritating plastic core to worry about adding to the Earth’s load, and their manufacturing process leaves a low carbon footprint.
Have we given you some new ideas for green bags? What do you use? Let us know in the comments!