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As much as we wish that taking care of our pet’s waste was not a part of being a responsible pet owner, unfortunately, there’s no getting around it. There’s no denying that when we’re scooping the litter into a garbage bag and throwing it in the bin every other day, that it can’t be great for the environment. After all, regular cat litter can’t be recycled – can it? We’re going to take a look at how to properly throw out used kitty litter and other pet waste, and explore our options in disposing of it.

Choosing Biodegradable Litter

If you’re truly looking to make an eco-friendly change when it comes to your cat litter, then switching to a biodegradable option is an absolute must. The most heavily advertised kitty litters tend to be made of clay, and other chemically infused ingredients. Not only are these types of cat litter harmful to the environment, but it’s harmful to you and your pets.

Lindsey Reynolds of takes us through this first crucial step in properly disposing of your cat litter:

“Choose a kitty litter made of natural materials that break down and return to the earth. Look for ingredients such as recycled compressed paper, wood shavings, corn, grass seed, pine, wheat, and sawdust. Most biodegradable cat litters are made of various plant-based products and can be more expensive than grocery store litter. Keep in mind that many of those mainstream cat litters contain silica dust, which can cause upper respiratory infections in both cats and humans. Also, avoid litters that contain sodium bentonite (clay) or fragrances. These materials are harmful to both cats and the environment, due to their extraction methods and use of chemicals.”  

Composting Cat Litter

You may be surprised to know that you can compost cat litter – as long as you’re using a biodegradable cat litter, that is. Composting your cat litter is a great way to give back to the environment, and not just simply toss your cat’s litter and waste in the garbage bin.

The Zero-Waste Pet details the steps involved in composting cat litter and the situations in which you should consider another option:

“Another reason to ditch clay: It can’t be composted. Many other litters can be, as long as you follow some specific guidelines and realize that you’re composting the litter not the waste!

1. Ensure you’re using a biodegradable litter, one made from material like pine, recycled newspaper, or–my personal fave–grass seed. See the next section for more on this!

2. According to PetMD, “Unless you’re using an enzyme to help break down waste or can guarantee that the compost bin is heating to over 145°F, you don’t want to use this fertilizer in a vegetable garden.” If you can’t meet those conditions, scoop the waste first and dispose of it in a biodegradable bag.

3. Dump the remaining litter into your compost pile far from any growing food.

4. In fact, because tiny pieces of waste will likely slip through your scooper, if you can’t ensure you meet the conditions in point 3, don’t plan on using this litter on or around edible plants. Instead, use it for decorative gardens far from food.

HOWEVER, going back to the litter-borne parasite issue mentioned above, if you live in a coastal area, skip in-ground composting altogether. It’s too risky that you’ll contaminate the water and, therefore, the marine life.”

Recycling Cat Litter

Even if you would consider yourself eco-friendly, not everyone is into the concept of composting – nevermind composting cat litter. If you’re looking to make some changes to become more environmentally friendly when it comes to your cat litter, recycling can come into play.

Recycle Nation talks about how you can recycle cat litter, if composting isn’t for you:

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We offer a wide variety of waste disposal options, with services readily available online. Reach out to us to see what we can offer you.

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