There are hundreds of thousands of innovators out there working hard to find new ways to protect our environment and reduce waste in natural methods. They bring their super cool ideas to the table, leaving many of us thinking, “Now why didn’t we think of that?” (Why, oh why, didn’t we think of that?) Let me tell you one thing I know we weren’t thinking of.
Poop bags for dogs.
“What? Just grab any old bag. What’s the big deal? It’s for poop!” Because, my narrow-minded friend, the bags you’ll probably be grabbing are plastic bags, and what’s the problem with plastic?
“It doesn’t biodegrade for a very, very long time.” That’s correct. In fact, it can take anywhere from 20 to 1,000 years for one plastic bag to fully biodegrade. That’s an insanely long amount of time to just sit around. Which is why Chicago implemented a plastic bag ban.
“But what am I to do when I take my dog for a walk? Use my hands?!” Ew, gross, no. What’s wrong with you?
You use these, ya dingus: the Loft 312 GreenLine Bags, special biodegradable poop bags designed by an environmental innovator known simply as “Poop Bag Girl.”
[Editor’s note: GreenLine bags are now 20% off when you order online with the code “goodidea”. Only for Idea Forge readers!]
Poop Bag Girl, a.k.a. Jennifer Blaese, has developed a new line of biodegradable bags that are designed to break down in an anaerobic environment, like a landfill. There has been an influx in biodegradable plastic bags, however many of them require sunlight and oxygen in order to be broken down, neither of which are available in a landfill.
So, Blasese raged against the machine and developed her own sweet product, and that product contains an additive that allows the bags to biodegrade completely in fewer than three years, even in a landfill.
We had a fascinating chat with Jennifer about her GreenLine bags, plastics, the environment, and, of course, poop.
The Idea Forge: First things first, the nickname. Where did ‘Poop Bag Girl’ come from?
Jennifer Blaese: [Laughs.] You know, that’s something that I recently adopted just because it’s identifiable. When it came to networking, people would ask me what I did for a living. I’d tell them that I manufacture dog poop bags and people would laugh. I guess I just naturally started calling myself the ‘Poop Bag Girl’ because it’s a good conversation starter and it sort of piqued people’s interest because it’s a weird nickname. People will always remember that. They’ll never remember my name, but they’ll always remember Poop Bag Girl.
Tell us about Loft 312. How did you get started, and what do you produce?
We established back in 2012 and we didn’t launch our products until about a year and a half later, so we could take our time developing and testing them. We develop The Loop for Poop, which is a poop bag dispenser that connects to a dog leash at two points, and we develop GreenLine Poop Bags, which are biodegradable bags that don’t require oxygen or sunlight in order to biodegrade.
I’ve always thought that there was an issue with the bags out there. I thought there was a need for something cooler, a need for more of a lifestyle. And that trend had already started, but it was all about doggy clothes and things like that. There were no dispensers, and dispensers are something you use every day. And you’re constantly using that leash. It’s just something that’s not ever going to go away. Most dispensers out there cost anywhere from $1 to $5, and they’re ugly. So, we knew going into it that we were developing a premium product [with The Loop for Poop], something that would start a lifestyle brand.
What about your GreenLine bags? Where was the inspiration there? How are they superior to other biodegradable bags?
Our GreenLine bags are biodegradable bags that don’t require sunlight or oxygen in order to degrade because you can’t find either of them in a landfill. And those kind of bags are not a new concept, but we saw an opportunity to educate the public that there is something authentic, that there’s something out there that will actually work because none of the other bags biodegraded in a landfill. The compostable ones do not biodegrade; the ones that say they’re biodegradable do not biodegrade because it’s old technology that requires sunlight, oxygen and mechanical stress. And that’s because those old bags were designed in the ‘70s to combat littering. So, those bags flying around in the trees and rolling around on the ground, they don’t fully break down. They were designed to be broken down while lying in the sun.
So, our additive is probably one of the newest technologies out there. It’s just a small amount of additive that’s added to plain plastic. The way that I can describe it in layman’s terms is that it’s food for bacteria and organisms [living in the landfill]. They basically eat and digest it, and the result is organic matter, H2O and methane gas. So, our bags are designed to naturally break down in a landfill environment.
Are there broader applications that these bags can be used for? Do you have plans to develop this technology into a wider selection of garbage bags?
Yes, and once we get on that bandwagon, I’ll let you know. I have a whole laundry list of things I’d like to do. But, as it stands, yes you can use these bags for uses other than dog poop. We have a bigger bag that’s about 12 inches by 20 inches, which is about the size of a grocery bag. You can take it camping, you can throw dirty diapers in it, you can use it to scoop litter, you can use it as a trash bag for your office, et cetera.
Given the reputation that biodegradable bags tend to rip easily, how durable are your bags?
They’re very durable. The biggest difference [from other bags] is that they’re shelf stable, which means that it can be safely stored at room temperature in a sealed container. If you buy compostable bags, they’re the worst. And that’s because they’re sensitive to heat. Now, they won’t break down from heat, but they lose their strength. So, if it’s sitting in a hot car, it’s gonna turn to jelly. It won’t biodegrade, that’s the funny thing.
If I throw this bag into another non-biodegradable trash bag, does that negate the whole concept?
Not really. People ask that all the time, but if you’ve ever seen a garbage pickup, there’s a lot of mechanical stress. You know, from being tossed around and tossed around. So those bags, by the time they make it to a landfill, are no longer intact.
Dog feces, like ours, can have negative effects on soil and water quality given a dog’s diet. How do your GreenLine bags help counteract the negative effects dog poop can have on the environment? Or does being tossed in a landfill make that irrelevant?
It’s kind of irrelevant. What’s relevant is that people don’t pick up. What we found is that people in the suburbs have told us they don’t pick up, people with land/acreage tell us they don’t pick up, and the unfortunate thing is that they really should. Because they are domestic animals, and domestic animals are not necessarily eating natural food all the time, and their diet can have an effect [on the environment]. But we are all, regardless, next to some groundwater. And so not picking up dog poop can affect all of that.
How much impact can an individual have on the environment? Why is it so important to use biodegradable bags?
I always try to stress this with customers: Consumers feel like individuals, and they are, but an individual with one dog will typically go through 1,100 poop bags a year. I have two dogs, and I go through almost 3,000 bags a year. And these bags can take up to 1,000 years to fully degrade, and animals will eat it and get very sick. So the less plastic we can have just sitting out there, the better. Individuals can make a difference.
Jennifer, Poop Bag Girl, thanks so much for speaking with us. It was truly fascinating.
Thanks so much. I’m glad we could make talking about poop and plastic fascinating. [Laughs.]
If there’s ever an opportunity to support a small company that’s doing something completely different, changing the dog game,and helping our environment, it’s this one. Even if you don’t have a dog, it’s important to take advantage of this technology so we can broaden its scope and have a truly profound effect on our lives, our dogs and our environment.
The plastic game is changing, folks, and it’s all thanks to an innovator known simply as “Poop Bag Girl.”