Plastic-Free July Eco-Challenge, Day 18: Walk with Your Best Friend

I don’t have a dog. Sometimes I imagine training my cats to let me put a leash on them and take them around. Sullivan might like it. The Kid? No. Just no.

Since our cats are our life, Chris and I don’t see us getting a dog anytime soon. But if we did, we would have a blast playing, walking, running, hiking, swimming, and doing doggie-friendly workouts daily with the pup. I’d probably name her ZooFit, and call her Zoey for short.

Okay, enough daydreaming. Why am I talking about dogs during Plastic-Free July with ZooFit? Because if you have a pup, you can have a significant impact on the planet, and your health.

Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound

Dogs need to exercise. Just like humans. And if you have a dog, you know they LOVE the shit out of you. So, we try to do right by them. We walk them daily, play catch in the backyard (or a dog park), and chill out with them while watching television. Maybe.

But this doesn’t have to be a one sided benefit to the dog. You can have fun, too, and make your daily routine of walking Fido your favorite part of your day.

All dogs stop along their walk to check what my friend, Stephanie, calls their “pee-mail”. When they stop, go ahead and do a couple squats, lunges, butt-kickers, high knees, or calf-raises. Yes, your dog will stop and stare at you like you’ve grown a second head, but they’ll get over it by the third or fourth pee-mail stop. This way, you can get a little bit of a workout with your dog, and make the most of your time together.

But how does this benefit the planet? Well, in a general sense, it helps us appreciate nature more. If you have a favorite place to walk your pup, you’ll want it to stay the way it is forever. But this is Plastic-Free July, and there is one aspect of walking your pup which does affect our plastic waste.

An average dog parent (aka owner) uses 21-28 bags a week to pick up pet waste. Most of those bags used to dispose of pet waste are plastic, single-use bags. With 60 million dog owners, using 21-28 bags a week, that adds up.

Doggie-doo-doo bags

There are two better ways to deal with your pet’s waste than plastic bags. One is to spend the extra money to buy compostable bags. This is probably the most preferred option, since it is more convenient than the next one.

Get a pooper scooper and then place their waste in a compostable bag in the garbage can. Now this will work well if you have a special can designated just for pet waste. Use compostable kitchen trash can liners and then change your pet’s waste bag once or twice a week, as needed.

We have a can next to our litter box and clean out the litter every day (actually, my cats are poop machines, I clean that sucker twice a day). The bag is compostable, since living in Washington state we aren’t allowed to compost cat litter. But throwing the litter away each week is less impactful on the environment, and we still keep the smell down, too.

So, go have some fun with your furry friend. Take care of your health, and theirs. And take care of the planet, too. One walk at a time.

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