Carbon pawprints – caution poo talk ahead

Ok – so I know that having pets isn’t very sustainable.  It’s been claimed that a medium size dog has a similar carbon footprint as two SUV’s.  Although not everyone agrees on the size of the pawprint the fact remains that, just like us, our pets consume energy and produce waste.

Pets also improve quality of life and for many of us are an integral part of the family.  This imperfect greenie and her Mr Imperfect have one medium-sized dog, two cats, one SUV and an aspiration for a tropical fishtank (maybe cold water would be more eco).  I am concerned about their carbon pawprints although the lazy things don’t seem too fussed themselves.

 

What goes in must come out

First issue: poo disposal.  Anyone who’s owned a furbaby is acutely aware that what goes in must come out.  At times is seems like a whole lot more comes out than what went in.  And boy can it be noxious, so you want to get rid of it ASAP.

I was super-excited when our council introduced green waste bins but was disappointed to learn that carnivore (meat-eater) waste can’t go in the green bins.  I have friends who have taught their cat to use their toilet like in the video below.  But as much as I share with my furbabies, I’m just not ready to share that.

Worm poo-farm solution: take 1

Recently, I re-purposed an old worm farm as a furbaby poop farm, having upgraded to a bigger composting system for our food scraps.  There are some great instructions on how to set up worm farms online such as here and here .  Setting up a poo farm is essentially the same.  You can buy commercial pet worm poop farms or even build your own and the worms themselves are readily available from most hardware shops.

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Poo farm full of well-employed worms

My worms are fed a delicious diet of whippet poo, moggy poo and recycled paper kitty litter.  I plan to use the worm castings (worm poo) to fertilise ornamental plants in my garden.  I have kept worms for composting kitchen scraps before but this is my first foray into poop farming.  Here’s some tips for success from my experiences and helpful websites

  1. Start with good quality bedding for your worms – I’ve used a mixture of garden dirt, sawdust and sugar cane mulch which I had lying around
  2. Make sure there’s some grit (dirt) – the worms need grit so they can grind up the food in their gizzard
  3. Worms like to be wet (but not drowned) – I usually add about half a bucket of water to my worm farm weekly (unless I’m lazy) and then drain the excess water out the bottom and use it on my ornamental plants
  4. Something on top (e.g. hessian or a couple of layers of cardboard) really helps keep the worms moist (yup, sorry for the M-bomb, but it’s true)
  5. Avoid long periods of full sun exposure in summer, especially if your worms are in black plastic like mine
  6. Only use biodegradable kitty litter – like the recycled paper in the photo above which the worms can also eat
  7. Only use the worm juice and castings to compost ornamental plants (not your veggies) to prevent any disease spread from your pets to you
  8. Don’t add any poo for at least 2 weeks after worming pets – otherwise you might kill off your poo-farm employees
  9. Adding calcium carbonate to the worm farm helps to keep the pH stable, reduce smells and control pests
  10. Only feed your worms poo / pet waste – if you add kitchen scraps they will probably fill up on dessert and not eat their main course

I will keep you posted on how my poo-farm performs.  I can tell you’re dying to know

Sarah

xx

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