Waste not, want not: Secondary use of plastic bags withers with ban

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

For some dog owners, those plastic bags from grocery stores had a handy use beyond a recent shopping trip.

The bags were useful for picking up pet waste.

The impending ban on plastic bags at grocery stores has some dog owners looking for alternatives for picking up their pet’s waste.

With the $0.10 state tax in effect on plastic bags, and the eventual ban of the bags in Connecticut looming, dog owners may be looking for an alternative to reusing the now-outlawed plastic grocery bags for cleaning up dog waste.

One reason officials and advocates have cited for the ban is the plastic bags are not biodegradable. But if pet owners are going to use biodegradable pet waste bags, they will have to do some searching.

If they are interested in searching at all.

Local pet stores, the Cheshire Cat and Dog, Too in Cheshire and Woodbury Pet Commons did not know if their current stock of pet waste bags were biodegradable. However, employees at the stores also said no customers have come in looking for biodegradable pet waste bags.

Regional grocery store Big Y is hedging its bet that customers will want biodegradable pet waste bags. Claire D’Amour-Daley, a spokesman for the Massachusetts-based chain, which has Connecticut locations, is now selling Greenbone BioBase Sustainable Waste Bags. D’Amour-Daley said the bags are made with a corn starch resin that breaks down quickly.

Pet owners can find biodegradable bags at some of the chain pet supply stores. Some pet owners cited Amazon as a good source for buying biodegradable bags.

“They are very well priced and I was surprised at how many they offered,” said Harwinton’s Jenifer Alex Jeans of Amazon’s offerings.

Some dog owners have yet to realize that the ban of plastic bags at grocery stores will have an impact on what they use to clean up their dogs.

Brian Gallo from Derby had been using the grocery store plastic bags for his clean up. Although he has a sizable surplus of these bags, Gallo said he had not considered he might have to look for an option when that supply runs out.

“I suppose biodegradable bags is what’s next for those whom aren’t already using them,” said Southington’s Ash Aleksinas.

Erica Woods of Naugatuck said she is on the hunt for the best biodegradable options when her grocery store bags run out.

Dog groomer Erin Shaughnessy of New Milford, said, “There isn’t a one size fits all solution.”

“In the grooming business,” said Shaughnessy, “we had to find a way to clean up after the dogs that was better for the environment and affordable. The biodegradable bags were the best option for us … If you haven’t made the switch to them already, you’re behind.”

But some dog owners have eyed other solutions instead of using biodegradable pet waste bags.

Jono Waks, a publicist in New York City, said, “I get The New York Times delivered and it comes in a long thin bag that’s perfect for picking up poop.”

Ginger Grant, the owner of The Studio in Bristol, also uses newspaper bags. Bread bags are another alternative, said Grant. “There is never really a shortage.”

Alina Friend of Southington said if “we can’t get any more (bags), our dog mostly goes in the back of our yard. With temperatures super high, it dries up within a couple of days so no need to pick up.”

However, Friend said, “It could be a problem during fall and spring.” She said she might resort to using a “butt wipe” to pick up her dog’s waste and then flush it.

When all else fails, some dog owners said there is the option of using open space to take care of the pet waste.

Darci McHenry of Glastonbury. “We live abutting conservation land so we don’t bag often. He walks in the woods.”

“Our dog has our lawn to use, lol, and we scoop it and fertilize the woods around the house,” said Nicole Reichenbach of Westchester, N.Y.”

“When our dog goes on our yard we’ve always picked it up with a shovel and fling it into the woods,” said Lisa Coates of Danbury. “My husband’s lacrosse skills come in handy.”

Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com.