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Everything you need to know about your dog’s carbon footprint

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

Do you ever think about your dog’s carbon footprint? The impact he or she makes on the planet? Do you ever think about your own?

With climate change, population growth (of people and pets), industrial pollution and all the rest, part of being a responsible dog owner today, is minimizing your pup’s negative impact on the planet right alongside your own.

You recycle, compost, do your best to reuse/repurpose items you already own, limit the amount of trash you produce and maybe even grow some of your own food. Maybe you do none of these things. If that’s the case, I encourage you to look at how you impact the planet right alongside how your dog impacts our earth.

Let’s start with one of the biggest ways your dog leaves a stinky carbon footprint. You guessed it – it’s the poop. Yup, with almost 90 million pet dogs in the U.S. alone, that’s a pretty big pile of…waste – 10 million tons per year if you want to get specific. Add in the plastic pick up bags and you have a real disposal problem.

There isn’t yet a perfect solution to this problem, but there are some interesting options that will reduce your dog’s impact.

For transparency’s sake, let me admit that I do not run a zero-waste household. I do my best and keep trying to limit the waste I produce but I’m not there yet. Jake (my pupper) wants to do his part, too, so we went looking for options. I joined a lovely group of folks on Facebook in the Going Zero Waste Group and asked them for input on how to reduce your dog’s carbon footprint.

Here is their advice:

For poop:

Use newspaper/toilet paper (or other biodegradable) to pick up the poop. I’ve seen people use leaves as well. Then you can either flush the “business” down the toilet or compost it separately from compost intended for growing food (dog poop is not like cow manure and does not make a good compost for gardens).

Brown paper bags like the ones you put sandwiches in also work, just don’t put the brown paper or newspaper down your toilet.

There are commercial compostable bags but read the fine print as many don’t decompose quickly enough and just get thrown out at the sewage plants.

Similarly, many “plant based” plastics aren’t compostable in your backyard and need to be composted in industrial facilities so read the fine print!

You can use a reusable pooper scooper and then flush the poop.

You can purchase products like the “doggie dooly,” which are essentially small in-ground septic tanks. Here’s one from so you can see what they look like.

If you’re a DIYer, you can make your own after watching videos on Youtube.

Give one of the above a try and let me know how it goes!

Now for some non-poop related tips from our friends at Going Zero Waste Group:

Try making your own dog treats instead of buying. Healthier, yummier and no packaging or chemicals. Here’s a recipe for peanut butter and pumpkin dog treats you can try.

Make chew/tug toys from old jeans, t-shirts, towels, blankets and whatever else you find around your house. Simply braid them together or get fancy with the sewing machine. Here are a bunch to try.

You can make your own shampoo, paw balm and flea and tick spray. There are lots of recipes on if you do a search. You’ll also find dog toy DIYs there. Here’s a few to get you started from my own Pinterest boards.

Use natural brushes from grooming instead of plastic ones.

You can get dog beds will a fill made of recycled plastic at WestPaw. Both Amazon and Chewy sell them.

You can DIY a bed with fabric and fill it with old clothes such as T-shirts and soft pants you no longer wear or the kids have grown out of. If you’re not much of a DIYer but have the materials you can make your dog a nice pile of clothes/blankets for a bed in a corner, maybe add an old piece of carpet or area rug as a base. Don’t be afraid to get creative. You can get free patterns here.

Also consider recycled/recyclable materials when purchasing collars, leashes and harnesses.

Limit the amount of gear your dog owns. Sure, you may need a couple of leashes but does your dog really need that tulle tutu or seven different Halloween costumes?

As I mentioned earlier, I’m just getting started reducing Jake’s carbon footprint – and my own – so I’ll definitely revisit this issue when I have more personal experiences to share.

For now, let’s all pick one tip from this article to implement and see how it goes. Share your favorite ideas and experiences in the comments.


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