Meet Charlie, our 45kg Lab x Great Dane who leaves large ‘presents’ all over the yard.
Anyone who has ever lived with a dog will know they poo A LOT and they leave said poo all over the yard. You will also know that as a responsible dog parent, it’s your job to clean it up.
For years I have picked dog poo up using plastic gloves, then placed it in a plastic bag and thrown the full bag into the garbage bin where it would eventually make its way to landfill.
I realised that while I was making a conscious effort to eliminate single-use plastic from my life, the one place I was using a lot of plastic was in cleaning after Charlie.
This is not a new concept and there are ready-made dog waste composts out there but the largest I could find was only 2 liters. Charlie is a big dog and a 2-liter bucket just wasn’t going to cut it. That thing would be overflowing by the end of the week!
So, we decided to make our own dog waste compost.
This compost is NOT intended to be used in the garden. The waste is left in the bucket to break down over time. Once it’s close to full, you remove the bucket, fill in the hole with dirt and start a new hole in your yard.
2019 update: Charlie is now a 51kg dog, we’re 20 months into using this bucket and it’s only half full.
What you will need:
1 large plastic drum with a lid that seals. I found a second hand one on Gumtree for about $20 that had previously been used to transport grains.
Some medium-size pebbles. This is to put in the bottom of the drum to assist with water drainage.
An electric drill to drill holes in the drum.
A saw to remove the base of the drum.
Ensopet Starter. This is a mixture of wheat, sawdust, and minerals combined with a group of micro-organisms which will accelerate the breakdown of the dog waste, eliminate the smell and help kill any pathogens (worms, bugs) in the compost. You can buy this online here:
Lastly, someone to dig the hole and use the drill aka my hubby. I was the photographer and Charlie supervised!
Use the drum lid to mark out the space you need to dig the hole where the drum will go. Then dig a hole deep and wide enough for the drum to fit snugly. This is the hardest part and may take some time! make sure the hole is deep enough that only the top part of the drum sticks out enough for you to remove the lid.
The fun part! Starting halfway down, drill holes into the drum the whole way around. Make sure you do not drill holes any higher than halfway, otherwise the smell will seep out. To remove the base, start by drilling holes around the base to make it easier to saw off then you can saw off the base.
Place the drum in the hole and add the pebbles to the bottom. Once you’re happy the drum fits, fill in the hole around the drum using the dirt you removed.
Add half a small bucket of compost from your compost bin to get the dog compost started. This makes the compost process start faster, if you have some worms add them too!
To maintain, all you need to do is sprinkle a handful of the Ensopet mix over the top every time you add waste. Making a dog waste compost is really that easy and no more plastic in landfill.
Next, how to get the cat to use the toilet! ?
Since first publishing this, the compost has been going strong for just over a year. The poo never filled more than halfway up the bucket as it was constantly breaking down.
The microbe mix lasted over a year as well.
We moved house recently and brought the compost with us. Dave had to dig a little of the dirt around the top to pull the bucket out of the ground. The poo remained in the hole which we filled with our portable compost waste and topped it off with dirt. The holes is now filled and the next tenants will never know it was there!
Now settled into our new house, Dave will just dig a new hole (lucky him!) and put the bin in place same as before.
Kira Simpson is an environmentalist and sustainability educator. She started The Green Hub in 2015 and has since grown to become one of Australia’s largest education platforms dedicated to helping people live a more sustainable life, talking about the big environmental issues like climate change, plastic pollution, and fast fashion – showing people how they can have an impact through their own small daily actions and how to be part of the bigger environmental movement.