Boulder Makes Pet Sustainability Easy



Eighty-three million dogs and ninety-six million cats call the US home. Pets don't use toilets. What could go wrong? The Pet Poo Pocket Guide will help you safely reduce your pet's environmental paw print with best practices for recycling pet waste.

Want to reduce your dog's carbon paw print while enjoying a high altitude fitness break? Take your furry best friend for hike starting at a Boulder trailhead that provides dog waste composting services. The average dog produces 274 pounds of poo each year. Sending some of that organic waste to a professional composter instead of a landfill will give your pooch sustainability credits. And a trek through Boulder's beautiful foothills will raise both your health and your spirits.

Visit Dogs on Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) (https://bouldercolorado.gov/osmp/dogs-on-osmp) for a list of trailheads with dog waste compost stations. Be sure to use only the compostable bags in designated dispensers at the entrance, not shopping bags or dog bags that you bring from home. Even "biodegradable" bags will not compost properly, leaving plastic that will need to be screened out before the compost can be used as a soil amendment.

If you decide to take Fido or Frieda along for a hike, here's how you can save yourself a lot of trouble. Dogs usually do their business within a quarter mile of an outdoor walk. Before heading for the trail, take a few minutes to walk, play or rough-house with your pet while you are both close to the composting station. You can grab a compostable bag, pick up and deposit on the spot. This will totally eliminate the need to carry a stinky bag or drop that bag along the trail with the intention of collecting it on the way back.
Why not just abandon the bag along the trail or, for that matter, allow your dog to leave his or her droppings on the ground like wild animal scat? It's compostable right? It will just return peacefully to nature, right?

Oh, so wrong!

In Colorado's arid climate, that poo bag or poo pie will continue to be an eyesore for a season or more. Did I mention those beautiful foothills are there to raise health and spirits, not hackles? A compostable bag won't break down quickly or properly without the heat, moisture and rich microbial activity of a compost pile. It will sit there until the sun splits it into pieces and the wind blows it into what? A backyard? A shopping plaza? A playground?

Wild animal scat is distributed far wider than pet poo, which is heavily concentrated in areas where people roam. Wild predators and prey eat raw meat or vegetation, not commercial pet food. Their scat degrades in its native setting as nature intended.

During snow storms and flooding, raw dog poo is swept into waterways, causing algae blooms and pollution. Left at ground zero, decaying pet waste can kill native plants and encourage invasive non-native flora. Did I mention those beautiful foothills are there to raise health and spirits, not noxious weeds?

So take full advantage of living in a community with a progressive environmental outlook. Use the composting stations at OSMP trailheads. If you're not the rugged outdoor type (or Colorado's unpredictable climate takes a turn for the worst), take your pooch for a frolic at Valmont Dog Park (https://plus.google.com/102699592305911589251/about?gl=us&hl=en). Here's a place that proves a dog play area doesn't have to be a fenced rectangle filled with wood chips. Valmont is one of the loveliest sites of its kind: open spaces, trees, friendly regulars, happy dogs, and compost stations!

If you're ready to take an extra step toward near zero waste dog or cat stewardship, try do-it-yourself pet waste recycling. Flushing, burial, composting are three of many ways to avoid trashing pet poo. You can degrade this material safely and even create fertilizer for ornamental (not edible) plants. So your pet will not only enrich your life, but your soil as well.

Rose Seemann is the owner and operator of EnviroWagg, a Colorado company dedicated to collecting and composting canine waste into safe, nutrient-rich garden soil. She is author of The Pet Poo Handbook: How to Recycle acnd Compost Pet Waste from New Society Publishers (http://www.newsociety.com/Books/P/The-Pet-Poo-Pocket-Guide). 

For more information, visit http://envirowagg.com/

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