My area is going plastic bag free. How do I dispose of this cat poop?

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My area is going plastic bag free. How do I dispose of this cat poop?
Cat Litter Box Cover from PinkBau
In Australia, our big supermarkets are about to switch to being plastic bag free. I'm all for this, but I regularly use the bags to dispose of icky kitty litter and was hoping I could get some suggestions as to more environmentally friendly (and hopefully cheap) options?

– S

We're feeling those pains all over the U.S., too. While I'm all for green-ing up the place, it does make trashing that used litter really challenging. Sure you could try just scooping the litter into your trash can or using waxed paper bags or something similar, but it doesn't do much to quell the smell.

Compostable veggie-based bags

My solution has been compostable litter bags (more available from the States if that's an option for you). I use this brand specifically since I have two prolific cats. They're vegetable based, which is not ideal still, but better than polyethylene bags. This means you can also compost it. Here's how our readers have done it.

Other types of plastic bags

Alternately, you could try something like a Litter Genie, which comes with bags that you'll use less frequently than regular bags. You could also try saving the plastic wrapping from other household items (like paper towels, diapers, vegetable bags, etc.) and using that to collect the litter.

Toilet training

Lastly, there's the hardest solution: toilet training! Yep, not really an option for some cats, but worth mentioning anyway.

Other than that, the world doesn't seem to have figured out what to do with litter sans plastic bags at this point, at least from my research. I'm hoping they invent a powder or spray that poofs it into nonexistence. But alas, not yet.

Let's take it to the streets…

Homies! What are YOUR solutions for the cat litter (or dog pewp) plastic bag dilemma?

  1. We have used smallish to mediumish trash bags as litter box liners before. You might also look into self-cleaning litter boxes. There are quite a few options out there.

    1 agrees
  2. When my own jurisdiction passed a bag law I was the first staff person hired to educate residents and business owners about the law. I would get this question all the time when the law first went into effect. Probably second to "how will I pick up my dog's poop." The answer to both: reuse the bags you already got. If that grosses you out then you can buy pretty inexpensively biodegradable pet waste bags from your local pet store. Although I usually steer people away from them since they don't actually biodegrade once you put them in your garbage can.

    I am also a long time cat mom. In my own home we keep a large pickle jar full of different types of bags: produce bags, newspaper bags, bread bags, bulk tortilla bags, old gallon sized zip lock bags, etc. Just this morning I emptied our litter box using an old potato chip bag. By reusing these other types of single use disposable plastic bags we are reducing our household waste.

    12 agree
  3. Honestly, even with all the stores going plastic-free in my area, plastic bags are still finding their way into my kitchen. Like Keren says above, bread bags and things are still around and waiting to be reused.

    Also, depending on your cats and where you live, you could try the litter that can be flushed down the toilet. I know toxoplasmosis is a problem for the watershed, but my cats are indoor-only and have been dewormed, so it seems like a low risk.

    5 agree
  4. Litter genie here. Before the litter genie we used a small bathroom trash can with lid and pedal-lever opener thingie. We occasionally spray a shot of lysol, ozium, or whatever's handy under the lid, but it's really been easier to deal with than individual plastic bags ever were.

    2 agree
  5. I've been using compostable dog poop bags for a few years and it's so convenient. I keep a small lidded trash can (the kind where you can step on a pedal to open the lid) in the room with the litter box, clean out the clumps once a day into a bag, then dump all the bags from the trash can into the garbage once a week or so. I got a box of 1000 bags on Amazon when I started.

    3 agree
  6. Combo of random plastic bags that still exist & compostable 'plastic' bags (they're cheap on amazon in bulk). I have 3 cats, & this has been totally sufficient for years!

    If your cats are indoor-only, you can compost their poop directly (no bag needed). It's outdoor cats that potentially carry parasites that you don't want in compost. That said, I don't have a garden so no compost pile. But some cities near me collect compost separately from garbage, so I know ppl who do this.

    1 agrees
  7. If your area allows it, you can use flushable natural litter (we like World's Best), which is what we do. We've lived in plastic bag free areas for years and we still wind up with a few floating around the house anyway (neighboring towns or the occasional takeout place that doesn't follow the rules, etc). You can also scoop the clumps into an old litter tin (like one of the plastic ones litter comes in) and then when it's full, empty it into your trash on trash night. There are plenty of ways to do litter bag-free.

    3 agree
  8. My roommate used brown paper lunch bags for the litter new scooped daily. Like the ones you might have brought your lunch to school in. The scoop just fits inside, they're fairly cheap, and as far as I know still readily available. We use a regular trash bag for the bulk litter when we clean the box out.

    2 agree
  9. If you go the toilet training route, DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, teach kitty to flush! It will become a fun game to play while the humans are away, and your water use will SKYROCKET.

    8 agree
  10. I'm confused. People use compostable plastic bags, but then put them in their plastic trash bag liner? I've wondered for ages what people do with the poop/litter in the compostable bags, because we aren't legally allowed to put them in our compost pile (we live in a metropolis). But if you put them in your standard plastic trash can liner, they won't compost anyhow. So what's the point?

    It seems to me you might as well carry your bin over to the litter box (or vice versa) and scoop/pour directly into it. For dog poop, you could do the same thing with a smaller bin at home (or roll your street-side bin to the backyard). Or just order a bunch of medical gloves,which are cheap, and pick the stuff right up on walks, flipping the gloves inside out and tying them off. Of course, little packs of dog poop bags are cheap too. If you're looking for free, you might need to start saving packaging from food or online orders. Or invest in reusable rubber gloves, and drop the poop in the nearest dumpster or storm drain.

    1 agrees
    • Please, please, please do not put animal waste in storm drains! For many communities, the storm sewer system is separate from the sanitary sewer system. This means that whatever goes down that drain goes directly into whatever bodies of water the storm system drains to, which is also in the watershed where the local drinking water comes from, which raises costs for water filtration and in turn raises water bills in your area.

      10 agree
      • amen. their are 2 types of storm drains combined or separate. the separate drain to our local waterways. the combined go to a treatment facility but in many jurisdictions the pipes overflow during storm events so everything ends up being discharged into your river.

        only rain down the storm drain.

        3 agree
    • Don't know about anyone else, but I don't put compostable plastic bags (with cat poop) inside another plastic trash bag. I put them straight into the garbage bin where they're carted off weekly. Anything in the bin has to be bagged or boxed up — our collection agency doesn't like 'loose' garbage in that bin (always check your area's requirements).

    • The origami cup finds another use!
      It can:
      – hold my change
      – hold my snack
      – act as a cup (briefly)
      – amuse small children (briefly)
      – become a hat
      – keep broken jewellery safe until repairs can be made

      and now I can add…
      – hold compost/pet litter

      3 agree
  11. I have my parents collect plastic bags for me, and then I "import" them into my community. If you're part of a buy-nothing project you could request some. I generally think using ones that exist already, just using less of them, is better than manufacturing special bags for poop.

    Like others have said, we also hoard bread bags, tortilla bags, etc. For us its about finding something that doesn't cost us anything.

    1 agrees
  12. I'm confused. It's just the supermarkets that are going plastic-free, you can still buy regular small trash bags, right? If so, I guess, you'll just have to buy small plastic liners if you cannot stand the smell, scoop cat poop directly into the non-recyclable trash, or use whatever bags make their way into your home. Here kitty litter is composted by our city, maybe you can ask your town if they accept cat litter with the green trash. Or you could scoop it in your own compost heap if you have one (don't use that compost on a vegetable garden, though. Only flowers).

    2 agree
  13. We just use paper grocery bags and take the dirty litter out to the garbage as we leave.
    Additionally, one thing I recently learned about some compostable "plastic" items is they don't break down on their own. Some actually need to be separated out and subjected to high heat in a facility to break down, otherwise they are just chalkier plastic. A restaurant I like has used compostable straws for years but when they learned they didn't compost without human intervention the place went straw free.

    1 agrees
  14. When I had a cat and bought the litter in large buckets, I would keep an empty bucket next to the litter box and scoop into that. The empty that into the dumpster (I lived in an apt building at the time). I could rinse it and reuse it. Then I kept a clean bucket to take back to the pet store and fill from their bulk litter bin. Minimal waste all around.

    The only tip I'd give is to not use the corn pellets if you have an outdoor litter box (mine was on a 3rd floor porch). The squirrels loved the corn litter!

    1 agrees
  15. I do like Rebecca, above, and use the large empty plastic container as a diaper pail. I just throw it out when full though (recycling won't take the containers anyway).

  16. This is why I love you guys! This is an issue I've been dealing with lately and nobody is talking about! I've recently run out of my leftover plastic bag/ donated plastic bag supply, not to mention my cats have been having some urinary issues and so I need to clean the box at least daily. I was feeling guilty throwing out so much plastic, but this community has proposed so many common sense solutions that I can't believe I hadn't thought of. Gonna pick up some paper lunch bags when I go grocery shopping today!

  17. Instead of wasting $20 on the litter genie and $20 additional every time the cassette needs to be replaced, buy one of those buckets of litter to accomplish more or less the same thing and line the pails with tall kitchen garbage bags.

    1 agrees
  18. I live in Sydney, Australia, and the supermarket ban on plastic bags is starting to have my worried about what I will do for bin liners in general.

    In my council area we have 3 bins supplied free by the council and collected weekly – a red-lidded otto bin for general waste, a larger yellow-lidded otto bin for recycling (glass, certain plastics, paper, cardboard), and a green-lidded otto bin for garden waste. Even with my family diligently recycling everything we can, our red bin still fills up weekly!

    We use supermarket bags to line our kitchen bin (traps in smells, more hygienic, etc) and when it is full we throw the bag in our red otto bin (not sure what you guys call it in the states). Now, part of me says "yeah, cool, im supporting this ban", another part of me says "ick, now Ill need to wash my bin out regularly and it will start to smell more even if I do reuse other plastic bags groceries are packaged in" and another part scoffs "this is going to fail big time as people are just going to buy rolls of trash bags for their pet droppings and bin liners. We wont be reducing our plastic waste at all really!".

    I am yet to find an alternative bin liner that wont cost me an arm and a leg as well as being environmentally friendly. As others have said, biodegradable bags arent really that biodegradable and are still bad for the environment as well as being super expensive. I do not like the idea of using newspaper either as it isnt really water-tight and bin juice will still make the bin smell/unhygienic.

    Luckily, my council area allows us to put our dog's droppings in the green bin so long as they are not contained in plastic at all. (Or, if im not allowed, they havent yelled at me yet haha). This may be an idea for your kitty litter!

    On a side note, Woolworths and Coles are using this ban to make more money – they are stopping supply of the free bags whilst pushing customers to purchase their thicker, branded, still-bad-for-the-environment bags at 10c-$1 a bag. Im sure they dont care all that much about the environment, just the appearance of it whilst lining their pockets with yet more money.

  19. This is not a completely plastic-free option, but still better than cleaning the litterbox in several small plastic bags each time you clean. I keep a small trash can next to my litter box (you know, the kind of size that you keep next to the toilet for feminine hygiene products) I just line that with a small trash bag and scoop the poop in that with one of those little plastic litter scoopers each time I clean the litterbox. The trash can is pretty good at containing the odors, and I just empty that in the regular garbage when it is full. (I suppose you could also empty that in the toilet when you use flushable kitty litter, but I havn't tried that)

    Also: please do not toilet train your cat. I heard several cat experts say that toilet training your cat is pretty bad for them. The posture is not something that is natural for them when pooping, and also, cats need to be able to bury their poop, which they can't do in the toilet.

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