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No shit shit-bags: Little Green Dog's environment movement

It’s easy to think by picking up and disposing your pets waste you’re doing the right thing for an innocent pedestrians’ shoes, but with over 500,000 dog owners in New Zealand, a lot of plastic waste is going to landfill thanks to our pooches. Little Green Dog is the latest in sustainable movements, proving the first plant based poop bags.

It’s important to make sure that we’re sending the right things to landfill, things that are compostable, biodegradable, and don’t clog our planet. It’s been easy to think that by disposing of our dogs waste we’re doing the right thing, well unfortunately while it may be the right thing morally, environmentally it is more plastics to landfill.

Little Green Dog is a Waiheke based startup that is providing New Zealand’s first actual compostable poop bags that don’t shit on the environment. The company have already sold almost 300,000 compostable bags, which means 300,000 fewer pieces of plastic in our landfills.

The bags are made from a mixture that is predominantly corn and potato starch and glycerine, so the bags are fully compostable which means they break down into nothing as the soil takes the energy it requires for biodegradation from our product itself. Little Green Dog bags have been tested to TUV Austria’s home compost standard which shows shows at least 90 percent biodegradation within a year at temperatures of below 30°C and at least 90 percent disintegration within six months.

So far, the startup's only issue is keeping up with demand, as more people jump on the bandwagon to lessen their strain on the environment.

Founder of Little Green Dog, Todd O’Hara, says he was originally fooled by products that had the word ‘biodegradable’ on the products. As a lot of plastic alternatives that claim to breakdown still leave tiny plastic particles in our ground and waterways.

“We spent a lot of time testing different bag options and watching people interact with existing plastic bags so we could decide how we wanted ours to be different. We noticed a lot of people double-bagging thinner, tear-prone plastic bags, which is twice as bad for the environment — so we went for the thickest bag our machine could produce, allowing dog owners to get the job done with just one. Little Green Dog bags are larger than a sheet of A4, and as one of our early customers says, we pass the Mastiff test.”

O’Hara, previously chief marketing officer for a Kiwi multinational technology company, says that one of the hardest things about launching Little Green Dog has been challenging the perception that biodegradable plastic is eco-friendly — something the big international players have been telling New Zealand dog owners for years.

“Mixing a chemical with plastic to make the bag break apart might make it disappear, but it doesn't make it break down. It's easier and cheaper to produce bags that meet the lower ‘biodegradable’ standard like other companies have, but at Little Green Dog, we take pride in doing the right thing when it comes to our products — and when we look at how we treat the Earth, it’s what’s right that matters. Not what’s easy.”

O’Hara with help from his rescue dog Sven are making environmental changes easier one bag at a time. The option now to reduce our plastic input into our land is in Kiwi dog owners hands, literally.

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