Research & Education

What’s With All the Dog Poop Bags?

Susy Alkaitis - August 14, 2018

Long Eddy, NY: Does your walk routine with your furry best friend look something like this?

  1. Grab poop bag.
  2. Walk dog.
  3. Pick up poop.
  4. Leave bag on ground because you’ll definitely grab it on the way back.
  5. Walk back to car and realize that you definitely forgot the fully loaded poop bag on the ground. Doh!

Down with picking up dog doo, but need a better way to carry it? Check out this video for easy ways to hold onto used dog poop bags until you can throw them away in the trash.

Dog Poop FAQs

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We’ve discovered that there’s often no malice behind leaving poop bags on the ground. A lot of us have our hands full while walking our furry friends, so we decide to leave the bags and grab them on our way back. And then, as we’re thinking about getting to work or hurrying home to make dinner…we forget. In places where dog poop bags are commonly abandoned, we can create a new social norm, indicating that it’s okay to leave dog poop bags on the ground. A new dog owner or someone new to the area might see the bags and decide that this is a common and accepted practice. In other words: bags beget bags. And bags that are touted to be “biodegradeable” can lead people to think that it’s okay to leave them on the ground when, in reality, it can still take years for those bags to break down.

– Isn’t it worse to throw bagged poop in a landfill, rather than letting it decompose?                                

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Neither solution is perfect. But with regard to the ecological ramifications of dog waste in our public spaces, here’s a few tidbits to keep in mind:      

  • Dogs in the U.S. produce 10.6 million tons of poop each year. The average dog deposits about ¾ pounds of dog poop daily, which adds up to 270 pounds of poop a year.
  • Dog poop can contain E. coli, Giardia, worms, pharmaceuticals, as well as several billion fecal coliform bacteria. It can spread diseases, such as Parvovirus, and pollute soil and the water we drink and play in.
  • In some cities, dog poop is the 3rd or 4th most significant cause of water pollution.
  • Picking up your dog’s poop keeps people from stepping in it and dogs from sniffing (or, if we’re being honest, eating) it?

– Can I bury my dog's poop on a backpacking trip?

If you’re in an area where land managers recommend digging a 6-8 inch cathole to dispose of human waste, then it is acceptable to bury your dog’s poop in the same manner. Because they do not decompose, dog poop bags should still be packed out. Dog poop can also be flushed down toilets, but, again, trash the bag – it can clog plumbing.  

Enjoy Your World. Leave No Trace.

Jessie and Matt

Leave No Trace's Jessie Johnson and Matt Schneider are part of the 2018 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Deuter, Thule, Taxa, and Klean Kanteen.


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