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Picking up dog poop

Calgary’s Canine Compost: Turning Doggie Doo Into Garden Goo

Calgary's groundbreaking pilot project transforms pesky pet poop into potent plant compost

Have you ever seen those little plastic bags neatly tied in a knot and tossed at the side of the trail?

Friends of Kananaskis

Yup, it’s probably doggy doo.

Believe it or not, some dog owners will do the hard part and pick up their little pooch’s poop, bag it, but then fail to follow through and deposit it in the waste bin.

Makes no sense. It looks like crap and is terrible for the environment.

But even if dog waste makes it to the landfill, it’s a problem.

Dog poop releases greenhouse gases and doesn’t break down and biodegrade quickly in the garbage dump.

There are an estimated 8.2 million pet dogs in Canada. They all pooh a lot.

The Environmental Protection Agency in the United States estimates that the typical dog excretes three-quarters of a pound of waste per day—or 274 pounds per year!

The University of Calgary researchers estimate that more than a tonne of dog poop is left in Calgary parks every week in the summer.

That’s a big pile of shit.

Problems with Poop

One city resident commenting on Reddit had this to say:

“I walk past probably half a ton of poop every day just in the grass in front of an apartment complex by my house. Just a field of shit. Gets covered in snow, then the dog owners add another layer of shit. Layer of snow. Layer of shit. Ad infinitum. Sad to see how nice spaces get turned into literal shitholes by irresponsible dog owners. Ruins the city for everybody else.”

Alessandro Massolo, one of the university researchers behind the study of Calgary’s park poop problem, says it’s not just disgusting, it’s also unhealthy.

Dog poop can contain tapeworms and pathogens like E-coli that make their way into streams and rivers. 

We are seeing a rise in tapeworm infections transmitted from dogs to humans. In fact, Alberta is a hotbed for infections of the tapeworm called Echinococcus multilocularis, which can cause a tumour-like disease in humans.

Composting Crap?

It happens! |

Composting is considered an essential way to solve this persistent poopy problem.

In fact, the city of Fairbank, in Alaska, started experimenting with composting dog poop back in 1991. It was a great success diverting tons of dog waste from dog-sled kennels and turning the poop into soil.

Composting dog waste effectively turns waste into a valuable soil supplement, ideal for use in tasks like revegetation, establishing lawns, and enhancing planting beds. 

Canine compost is rich in organic matter, making it a superb addition to gardens and potted plants. It boosts the soil’s structure, enhancing both aeration and its ability to retain moisture. 

Additionally, the compost provides essential nutrients for plants. However, it’s important to note that pet compost should not be applied to crops intended for human consumption.

Calgary’s Canine Crap Compost Project

Last April, the City of Calgary launched a pilot project to test the feasibility of composting pet waste from off-leash dog parks.

The project is being piloted at two parks, Tom Campbell’s Hill in Ward 9 and Queen’s Park Village in Ward 4.

Park signs encourage pet owners to place waste in certified compostable bags and drop them into modified green bins.

Calgarians with pets can also do their part outside these off-leash project areas. 

Just pick up your pet’s poo (dog or cat) in a compostable bag (not a biodegradable one) and put the poop in your green bin, and the pet waste will be turned into compost.

Between the combination of plastic doo-doo bags going to landfills and decomposing poop emitting mountains of methane, solving our dog poop problem is one thing we need to deal with. 

And now Calgarians can do their part by collecting pet poo and sending it away to be turned into nutrient-rich soil perfect for growing plants like trees that will help battle carbon emissions.

Other cities that allow pet waste to be composted include Edmonton, Cochrane, Red Deer, Airdrie, Canmore, and Banff. Check with your city or town to see if pet waste is accepted. 

Think of it this way – you are turning canine crap into carbon capture – no shit!

Composting doggie doo makes everyone happy! Angel Luciano | Unsplash
Composting doggie doo makes everyone happy! Angel Luciano | Unsplash

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