If you met me in 2011, you would have met a lost 24 year old, not enjoying life… and not exactly thrilled about the future.
I was a web designer – and a good one at that. I was in a great paying job with a nice cozy office, unfortunately I absolutely hated the fact that I was sitting down all day, staring at a screen. I felt disconnected from the world, from reality, and knew that I needed to get out of there. So four years in, I finally took the leap and left the safety of my career in order to discover what I was really meant to do… of course I had no idea where to start.
Turns out, it’s very difficult to find a job not in computers when your entire background is in computers. I started working retail jobs then ventured into working as a nursing assistant, then animal shelter worker. I liked helping others in need, but my main issue with the job was the lack of control. Anything I saw done that I didn’t agree with, I could not change, and it bothered me greatly.
I decided to create my own business that would combine the two things I really enjoy – being outside with nature and caring for animals. So in 2015, I created Pet Poo Skiddoo – a business that would offer pet sitting, dog walking, and for a unique twist – yard scooping. Little did I know that the yard scooping would soon take over, transforming my business into a revolutionary movement to fight climate change.
You see, only a few months into the business, the yard scooping became exceedingly popular amongst the clientele. I knew the business was growing as I filled more and more bags of dog waste each week – but then the number of bags became… a lot. I actually couldn’t believe the hundreds of pounds of poop I was taking to the dump each month with only the handful of dogs I was scooping for.
I started calculating in my head, how much poop will I be throwing out in a year if I have reached 50 clients, or 100 – it would be thousands of pounds being sent to the landfill. Right then and there I knew that this was a problem, a problem that was causing a lot of pollution and no one seemed to be addressing it.
I did a little research and found that the average dog can produce about 275 lbs of waste per year, multiply that by the millions of dogs in population and that’s over 20 billion pounds of dog waste generated every year in the U.S. alone, so much of which is wrapped in tiny plastic bags and dumped into our landfills.
So why aren’t we composting this stuff? Well everywhere online said you couldn’t, that it wasn’t safe to do so because of the pathogens in the waste. But I couldn’t accept that, I had to try it on my own. It just so happens that it would take me two full years to figure out a successful process. Turns out, dog waste is quite different from vegetarian-fed animals – it’s lot more muddy and dense, and a lot harder to aerate – but with much determination and a lot of patience, I was able to nail down a process that would consistently heat the waste to 150 °F, and break it down into a dark, crumbly material. After letting my experiments cure for a few months, I sent some samples off for testing and to my amazement, not only was the bacteria count down to safe levels, but it was also proven to be a great nutritional fertilizer!
Fast forward a few short years to the present day and I now have trucks, employees, as well as additional services such as bin pickup (for those willing to scoop their own yard), cat litter pickup (where clients use compostable litter) as well as pet waste station maintenance at various commercial properties where we place compostable bags in all the dispensers. We also sell our fertilizer that we have thoughtfully named Critter Dirt.
I have big plans for this business. We’ve received messages from farm owners looking to compost their animals’ waste, as well as messages from all over the country looking to purchase a franchise. I want the composting of animal waste to be the norm, the common service used by pet owners, shelters, farms, and zoos.
For now, we will focus on expanding our service within the local community in North Carolina. Currently we are composting about 50,000 pounds of pet waste per year – all on less than one acre of land and only using solar to run our fans and blowers. We hope to eventually upgrade to larger machines in order to decrease the time and labor.
Pet waste, litter and plastic pet waste bags are just as big of a problem as food waste and disposable plastics in this country, and it’s about time we tackle it!