If you have a dog then I am sure you have had an internal struggle more than once about the number of plastic bags you use for picking up their number two.
Grocery bags, newspaper bags, store bought doggy bags…while it is nice to feel like we are giving bags a second life by scooping the poo with them, I still think there is a better way that reduces the use of plastic all together.
In my pursuit of finding a dog bag that is environmentally friendly I came across a few different types that seemed to have potential:
Today I will be looking at a compostable bag.
What Makes A Compostable Bag:
One of the key things to look out for when shopping for a compostable bag is its labeling. There is a big difference between compostable and biodegradable.
Lots of dog bag companies will try to take advantage of you by boasting of biodegradable bags. In reality, all things will biodegrade to some extent at some point, but you don’t want to be buying bags that will sit in a landfill for hundreds of years!
Once you sift through the biodegradable business, it is time to sort through what makes a good biodegradable/compostable bag. There are two main ratings for these types of bags: ASTM D6400 and ASTM D6954.
ASTM D6400 is the higher rating and refers to bags that are made of materials that are compostable on their own. This is the type of bag that, under the right circumstances, will break down relatively quickly and completely. There is a catch, though.
This rating specifies a bag that will break down under ideal conditions, meaning it has to have proper heat, oxygen, moisture, dry and organic matter, and it needs to be big enough to get HOT enough to break down, whew!
I know it seems like a lot, and for the regular backyard composter it may be too much (not to mention you can only use this compost on non-edible plants) but if you have the means and motivation it is worth it! You can also get it to a local composting facility (check and make sure they accept dog waste).
ASTM D6954 is an oxo-biodegradable substance, which means that a chemical additive is mixed into the plastic to help it breakdown, more on the multiple year timeframe as opposed to the monthly timeframe with the ASTM D6400 bags.
While it isn’t fully compostable, it is usually a cheaper and easier to find alternative to the fully compostable bag.
That being said, I wanted to test out a truly compostable bag and came across the My Alpha Pet bag.
About My Alpha Pet Bag:
This bag is made from cornstarch and other bio-based ingredients to create a bag that is compostable both in your backyard and in industrial facilities.
When l was researching bags, this seemed to be the only available one that I could find that touted itself as backyard compostable. It has an ASTM D6400 rating as well as an EN13432 rating (for backyard composting).
First Thoughts on Compostable Poop Bags:
I ordered the pack of 120 and at $15.99, it is definitely pricier than the less compostable options available. But if it helps reduce the use of plastic it seems a small price to pay.
It comes it a box of 8 rolls that can be used with a dispenser. Since I am not that fancy, I just tie one to the leash or put it in my pocket.
You do want some type of system, though, because the roll will just unravel if you leave it all in your pocket or bag, and then it is a hassle to roll bag up.
I also really love the texture of these bags. They are soft and silky feeling, and open so easily! This is a huge win for me, as I wear gloves in the winter and fumbling to try and get a bag open is such a pain.
Once you tear a bag off the roll it just flutters open. The only problem is that the little sticker at the beginning of each roll it hard to open. You have to be quite gentle or it will rip the bag.
Also, they are 20 microns thick, which is quite respectable for a compostable bag, and they have a star sealed base to help prevent any leaks. So far so good.
I found that when I used grocery bags or newspaper bags they were SO thin that I was constantly tearing them on twigs, and even brittle blades of grass! Which led to a mess that I am sure you can imagine. No fun.
Are Compostable Bags Sturdy?
In an effort to be even more eco (and economically) friendly, I have been reusing these bags for multiple doggy poops. Since my dog has such tiny poops it is easy to get a few days worth of poop into one bag.
The only thing to be wary of is that they will begin to mold and decompose, so I don’t like to keep them more than two or three days.
Reusing them so much you could imagine there might be a concern for leaks, but I haven’t had a single issue with these! They are really so strong!
I end up picking up those sharp little twigs, it is fall and the season of dry pointy foliage is upon us, and they never rip through the bag. Even on day two or three I have no issue.
The other thing I thought might be noticeable was the smell of poop. Normal plastic bags have always done a horrible job of blocking poop smells.
These do really well. The first poop I ever picked up I smelled a bit and though, no biggie just one drawback to this bag, but after walking for another 15 minutes I realized I wasn’t smelling anything.
I think the initial smell of picking it up is what had hit me, but the bag itself does a really good job of trapping odors. To test this theory I ended up putting a bag of dog poop into a pouch in my bag when I was out hiking with Peanut.
I didn’t smell it in my bag all day and even when I put the bag in the car to drive home I still didn’t smell it!
My Alpha Pet also has a scented version for those who are really sensitive, but I find the smell of scented dog bags, plus the poo on top of that, tends to be worse than just a plain bag.
Composability of Poop Bags:
Since I have only been using these for a month and the cold has set in (i.e. no active composting happening) it is hard for me to see any results.
Though I did have an anecdotal incident the other day which makes me feel these bags will break down quickly. I accidentally put one through the washer and dryer (moisture, heat, oxygen…pretending it was a mini composting experience) and when I found it was riddled with little flaky holes like it had already begun to breakdown.
Totally not scientific, but it gives me hope that these bags really will do what they are supposed to.
Overall Impressions of Alpha Pet Compostable Dog Bags
I do like this bag. I think it holds up well, blocks the smell, and leaves the promise of composability.
The one thing I would like to see in the future is more transparency around what these bags are made of and their ability to break down.
While the bag has this rating that says it should compost, I still get this itchy feeling like they are marketing to try and make it seem slightly better than it is, but I could be wrong.
I like companies to be very up front with what is in their bags and how they work. But so far these have done well and I am pleased.
There is a lot of room for growth and development in the world of compostable dog bags, so I am hoping even more advanced options will come on the market soon.
I’m a good ol’ Midwestern transplant that moved to Colorado for mountains and adventure. I love rock climbing, writing, and eating cookies. When I’m not on the side of a cliff you can find me walking my dog, Peanut, playing piano, and blogging about my climbing adventures on The Gobi Gazette.