A Helpful FAQ for the Poop-Packing Skeptic
We recently connected with Ross Reid, aka @nerdyaboutnature, to learn why packing out your pup’s poop is not only critical trail etiquette, but also a heroic act of environmentalism. Ross explains, “These ecosystems are already having a hard time as a result of all the other silly things us humans do, and the last thing they need is to be dealing with your dog’s dookie on top of it all.” Read on for some completely made-up questions that are probably asked (or at least thought) frequently, along with our answers, informed by Ross’s expertise.
Wilderdog: I forgot my bag, but I’m in the backcountry. It’s fine to let it lie, right?
Ross: Well, actually, no. “Even way out in the woods, away from everyone, picking up your dog’s poo is really important, as it can create all sorts of unintended consequences on these ecosystems,” Ross says.
W: But doesn’t a bear sh*t in the woods?
R: Yeah, totally, but bears, wolves, and other wild animals are integrated parts of the ecosystem. In other words, they’re part of a healthy, natural cycle that supports every living thing in their native ecosystems. Your dog? Not so much.
W: What if my dog’s diet is strictly the fancy raw and organic type?
R: Regardless of what kind of food your dog eats (unless, perhaps, you’re feeding your dog locally hunted game), their food still comes from outside of this ecosystem. Most dog food and, in turn, dog poop, has tons of protein and other nutrients and chemicals that can disrupt the ecosystem’s delicate balance - not to mention scents that are unfamiliar to local fauna.
W: What’s the big deal with a little extra protein in the environment?
R: A single poop in the vast forest may seem insignificant, but it can actually disrupt wildlife habits and even impact migration patterns. Dog poop also contains high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. In excess, these elements can contribute to harmful algae blooms in ponds and streams. Those blooms make it harder for fish and other aquatic creatures to survive, and then everything that usually eats them ends up a little (or a lot) hungrier than usual, and the disruptions ripple out, eventually affecting tree diversity and the way water moves across the land. Basically, it’s all connected and that lone dog poop is not so insignificant, after all. So, as Ross says, “Take a deep breath and pack that poo out.”
W: Okay, but I own 1,000,000 acres and my dog’s poop is scattered around without wreaking havoc… isn’t it?
R: Probably not. (See questions 3 and 4.) But that’s also your own property, so you do you. It’s a lot different when everyone who travels a trail leaves their dog sh*t behind. Besides the environmental impact mentioned above, do you really want to be stepping in and around that much doo-doo? Neither do we.
Interesting side note: Some dogs poop in the same spot over and over again, so their waste isn’t exactly “scattered.” This may have to do with preferences about the way the ground feels, scents, or even the Earth’s magnetic poles. Did you know that dogs prefer to align themselves with the north-south axis when pooping?
W: Isn’t the plastic waste from dog poop bags way worse than a little dog poop in the woods?
R: To be fair, this scientific article calls dog poop bags (“DPBs”) a “non-negligible source of plastic waste.” They account for an estimated 0.6 percent of all plastic waste, which sounds negligible, to be sure, but the actual quantity is likely 0.76–1.23 million tons. Of plastic poop bags. So yeah, they’re not great for the environment. But Wilderdog’s Dog Poop Bags (and many others on the market) are biodegradable, so you don’t have to ponder whether the poop or the bag is the lesser of two evils - you can just pack out that harmful poop with a clean conscience.
W: I use compostable/biodegradable poop bags, so I can just chuck them off-trail, right?
R: Good job choosing eco-friendly poop bags, but still no. Once your bags break down (and if you have chosen truly biodegradable bags, they will!) your dog’s poop and all of its ingredients still remain. These bags are awesome because they allow you to safely carry your poop back to an actual trash can. When they end up in a waste-processing facility or even a landfill, the bags and the poop inside them will decompose in a designated area that won’t impact wildlife so directly.
W: I always bag up my dog’s poop! I’m coming back for this little parcel… later.
R: Awesome! Don’t forget! There are many trails out there that are littered with good intentions.
Wilderdog has everything you need to pack that poo out. Check out our biodegradable Dog Poop Bags, Dog Poop Bag Holder, and super convenient Crap Carrier to carry that crap out (because we hate slinging those little baggies just as much as you do). Actually, you can get all of this stuff in one fell swoop with our Sh*t Kit. You’re welcome!