You're someone who cares about the environment. You recycle. You vote for candidates who take climate change seriously. You might compost. You try to buy products that are sustainably made. You turn down plastic bags at the grocery store because you brought your own tote bags.
And because of that, you feel weird about buying those tiny plastic bags for your dog — only to fill them with poop and throw them away.
You're looking for a more sustainable option. It’s what you, your dog, and Mother Nature deserve. And as a dog owner myself (meet Mirio!) I 100% feel you.
So what are our options for sustainable poop bags?
First, some back story:
Dog poop bags have a history of greenwashing
“Greenwashing” is a term used to describe what happens when a company or brand deceives customers about the sustainability or environmental impact of their products. (We have a whole article to help you spot greenwashing — check it out!)
Unfortunately, a number of pet product companies were busted for their greenwashing practices, and even faced legal ramifications, as they promoted pet waste bags as “eco-friendly” and “biodegradable” when, in fact, they were not.
In 2021, companies like Target, Chewy, PetSmart, and Petco were required to pay a combined $1.8 million in settlements to a number of California jurisdictions for this misleading marketing.
“Dog lovers who care about the environment are often targeted by misleading advertising about the environmental benefits of certain single-use plastic bags,” Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in a statement. “These settlements are a win-win for California consumers who want accurate information about the environmental impact of plastic bags and other plastic products they buy.”
Despite these companies quickly settling and remedying these “greenwashing” issues, it’s still important to stay informed as a consumer — especially when you are trying to find sustainable, ethical products to use every single day.
What does it actually look like to sustainably get rid of your dog’s poop?
In this article, we’re breaking down the most sustainable ways for you to pick up and dispose of your dog’s poop. And we’re not including any greenwashing.
Here’s what you need to know: any dog poop bag or product that you throw in the garbage will end up in a landfill. And once it’s there, it won’t break down (or worse, will still release methane into the atmosphere) — even if the packaging says it’s biodegradable or compostable. (We explain why this happens in the FAQ at the bottom of this article.)
With this in mind, our sustainable options are:
- Buy plastic bags that are made with more sustainable or recycled materials, so at least we aren’t throwing away virgin plastic.
- Actually compost compostable poop bags — either at home (safely) or at a commercial facility that allows this.
- Eliminate packaging altogether!
Fortunately, we dove into all of the products on the market and presented the best options for you to choose from.
We broke this article down into:
- Best compostable plastic dog poop bags
- Best non-plastic dog poop “bags”
- Best creative alternatives for getting rid of dog poop
- And some helpful FAQs at the end
By the way, all of these products were independently chosen and vetted by our team. Some of these links may be affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a commission, at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting our work of sharing good news and helpful resources!
The Best Compostable Plastic Dog Poop Bags
While many companies may try to convince you that their “green” poop bags do the job, there are a handful of truly compostable poop bags on the market. But, here’s the catch: they are typically only compostable through a commercial, municipal, or industrial composting facility; not in your at-home compost.
The other catch is that most composting facilities don’t accept pet waste in the U.S., so you’ll either have to separate the poop from the bag (you win Most In Love With Mother Earth if you do this), or look for a community or park composting program that will indeed accept your nugget of gold… erm, brown. You can also attempt to compost at home, but keep in mind precautions from the USDA.
A key way to know if these bags are truly biodegradable is if you look for the ASTM D6400 label on the packaging. Here are a few we found!
By the way, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
The Original Poop Bags
The Original Poop Bags are compostable pet waste bags that meet the ASTM D6400 Standard for Commercial Plastics. They can be composted along with organic waste in municipal composting facilities, though these facilities may not be available in your area.
Made out of plant fibers, vegetable oils, and starch, they are thick, leak-proof, and unscented. This means that even if you throw these in the trash, at least your bag wasn’t made with plastics.
Doggy Do Good Compostable Poop Bags
Doggy Do Good has a variety of compostable poop bags — with and without handles, on rolls and in a box; anything your pet parent heart desires. These bags are 38 percent vegetable-based and made in part with cornstarch and other bio-based components. They are certified for home compost by OK Compost, TÜV AUSTRIA, and the Biodegradable Products Institute (Canada Only).
A portion of proceeds from the bags also goes to animal welfare and environmental nonprofits. Doggy Do Good also provides information and precautions for at-home pet composting on their website.
They’re available on Amazon.
Eco Pooch Poop Bags
Eco Pooch compostable poop bags are made from plants and a compostable polymer-based proprietary resin. They meet the ASTM D6400 standards and are fully compostable in approximately 50-90 days in commercial compost facilities.
They are not intended for backyard composting, and manufacturers encourage shoppers to check with their local compost facilities to ensure they will accept pet waste.
They’re available from EcoSafe.
What are some biodegradable poop bag alternatives I can buy for my dog?
Like we shared earlier, no matter how “eco-friendly” your poop bags are marketed, most every bag you buy will likely sit in a landfill forever. Poop bags made from recycled materials are a step in the right direction, but after you toss that baby, the cycle stops there.
While we wish there was better news about actual sustainable poop bags, we have a great list of alternatives you can shop instead.
The SCOOPEASY is an innovative poop scoop device made of recycled cardboard. With printed instructions on the device, you separate two cardboard pieces to create a scoop and a holder. After your ‘doo is secure, you can close the holder and utilize a built-in handle until you are able to discard the whole thing.
They’re available at Package Free Shop.
Flushable Dog Poop Bags: Doodie Flush
Give your dog another reason to follow you to the bathroom with flushable dog poop bags. Doodie Flush bags are leak-proof and disintegrate in water, meaning you can pick up your dog’s waste and flush it into any working septic system.
Made with polyvinyl alcohol, Doodie Flush bags are built to be durable yet easily composted upon flushing.
They’re available on Amazon.
Portable Pooper Scoopers
If you’re looking for a new dog accessory that maybe hasn’t landed on your wish list quite yet, there are a couple of options for portable pooper scoopers that you may want to try out.
These can be carried with you or even clipped to your dog’s leash to use when you’re on the go. The DOGBUDDY model shows a slot for a roll of poop bags, but if you’re able to scoop that poop and then toss it in a nearby trash can, you can avoid plastic entirely.
Similarly, the Doggie Walk Bags pooper scooper is basically like a pair of tongs for your dog ‘doo. If you have a smart way to dispose of your pet’s waste without a plastic bag, this is a great option to carry along on your walks.
You can also — gasp! — flush your dog’s doo-doo after picking it up and securing it in a scoop or other holder. It’s probably the weirdest option thus far, but it might just be the most sustainable.
What are some more sustainable alternatives for scooping pet waste?
There are some plastic items many of us purchase that we simply do not want to cut from our lives — the barrier between your bare hand and your dog’s poop is probably one of them. However, there are still a handful of (free!) alternatives you might want to give a shot when it comes to doo-doo duty.
Reused plastic from your day-to-day life
Did your online order come with some plastic packaging? Did you accidentally get a plastic bag at the grocery store? Do you have one of those “thank you” bags from your last takeout order? Get a small pouch or container and bring them along on your next dog walk!
Autumn leaves are not just for aesthetic Instagram photos anymore! If there is an abundance of large leaves where you live, use one to pick up your pup’s next pile of poop. We get it; this one may feel a little more risky, but if you’re down to give it a shot, who are we to hold you back?
I may or may not have a history of handing my dog some junk mail sent by my least favorite political candidates as a bonus chew toy, but next time, I think I may just need to use it to pick up his poop.
Now, we’re not saying all political mailers are dog-poop worthy, but random fliers, expired coupon sheets, or other junk mail postcards could make a great poop bag alternative.
Just — don’t you dare use your Goodnewspaper.
Of course, if you are picking up your pup’s poop on your own residence, reduce your use of plastic by using a shovel or pooper scooper instead of bags. There are a few portable scoops on the market (listed above!) that you can take for a spin on your next walk, too.
Frequently asked questions about dog poop bags and sustainability
How long do biodegradable poop bags take to decompose?
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but biodegradable poop bags likely won’t actually decompose. At least, not in a landfill.
While most “biodegradable” or eco-friendly poop bags should take only about a year to decompose, this happens at a much, much slower rate in a landfill, thanks to a process called mummification.
Landfill mummification happens when more waste enters a landfill and compacts other waste around and below it. This new layer of waste blocks sunlight and oxygen, which removes the necessary factors of biodegradation. Once the waste is dried out and preserved — mummified, if you will — it is then unable to degrade at all.
That’s why, when you use those “eco-friendly” poop bags, it matters how you discard them, likely in a pet-waste-specific compost, like we explored earlier.
If composting isn’t an option for you, Rover suggests burying your pet waste. However, if you plan to do this, make sure you are in a safe space away from vegetable gardens and water sources and you bury your materials at least five inches underground.
Can you compost dog poop?
Many might assume that dog waste is not compostable. It definitely is — but only in the proper conditions. Dog poop is not safe to use in a compost that will be used for consumable vegetation. Pet waste can be home to all kinds of parasites and tapeworms that live in the soil for years, like E.coli, salmonella, ringworm, or tapeworm.
It is vital that you keep your dog waste away from your veggie gardens, or where your pets could get to it. However, dog poop is a safe soil additive for landscaping or revegetation, as long as you compost correctly. The USDA actually has a great guide to beginning your canine ca-ca compost to get you started.
What's a good sustainable dog poop bag dispenser?
Just like the clothes in your closet or the plates in your cupboard, the most sustainable product is the one you already have.
Perhaps you picked out an affordable one when you first adopted your dog, or maybe you got a freebie along the way. While they may not be the coolest or trendiest poop bag dispenser, it’s what you have, and the most sustainable option would be to use it until you can’t anymore.
With that being said, if you are in the market for a cool, sustainable poop bag dispenser, look no further than our top three picks that will work long-term:
United By Blue’s Dog Waste Bag Dispenser
United By Blue is a fashion brand that aims to do good through the use of sustainable materials, ethical manufacturing, and a zero-plastic policy. Their dog products are no different! United By Blue’s dog waste bag dispenser is shaped like a tiny backpack and has a zipper compartment of waste bags, treats, and a loop for hands-free attachment.
The dispenser is made from recycled polyester and aluminum hardware for a long lifespan of adventures with your best friend.
Wild One’s Treat Pouch
Though branded as a treat pouch, this walking bag from Wild One can fit treats, waste bags, your phone, keys, and any other necessary items you may need to carry on your walk. Made from 10 water bottles, the recycled knit body can be worn as a cross-body bag or fanny pack.
We love this option because it is a versatile pouch that can be used for more than just poop bags! It’s also stylish enough to wear outside of the walking trail. Wild One sent us a full walking kit, complete with a harness, leash, poop bag dispenser, and treat pouch. The items are well-made and easy to use, and as far as I can tell, both me and my pup were extremely comfortable.
We also mentioned Wild One in our guide to the best gifts for animal lovers.
Beco Pets Pocket Bamboo Poop Bag Dispenser
This bamboo poop bag dispenser from Beco Pets is made with a natural bamboo and rice husk blend and comes with 15 plant-based waste bags. It is shaped like an egg, and can be attached to a bag, belt loop, or backpack with its bungee clip.
The product is also packaged plastic-free.
We’ll also offer a reminder: The burden of saving the planet doesn’t rest entirely on your shoulders (or your pet poop disposal techniques). We all have a part to play through individual actions, but the best way you can move the needle for Mother Nature is to call for better climate policy from governments and genuine change from corporations.