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Disposing of Pet Waste and CFLs

Q: Sometimes my dog’s poop gets lost in the snow before I can pick it up – especially when there are several feet of snow in the yard or next to the sidewalk. Is it OK to let this biodegrade into the grass when the snow melts? A: As much as I like to advocate biodegrading everything we can, dog waste is an exception. It is best to pick up and place in the garbage any errant presents your pooch leaves behind – even when it appears to be far enough away from the sidewalk or street. Why? Pet poop, just like ours, contains bacteria such as E. coli that make us sick and that doesn’t always biodegrade before rain has a chance to carry it away. If even a small fraction of the poop rolls off your lawn and lands in the street sewer before it has a chance to biodegrade, it might go straight to our river and Lake Michigan before MMSD has a chance to treat that water. Our sewer system is designed to remove these bacteria, but not all storm sewers go to the sewage treatment plant. As a result, if bacteria-laden poop goes straight to the lake, we increase the likelihood of having closed beaches due to unsafe, unswimmable water. Another reason to pick it up is to minimize ‘burning’ your lawn. Pet waste wouldn’t be such a problem if there were fewer pets dropping their presents all around town. I’m not advocating in the least that we restrict the number of dogs allowed in our city. My own 75-pound, furry pup would be quite annoyed if I did. Don’t use pet waste for compost either, unless your compost is only used for ornamental plants rather than edible gardens. If a veggie touches the dog bacteria-laden soil and then you eat it, you could get very sick. The bottom line: take a recycled newspaper bag or some other pooper scooper with you on your walks – our rivers and Lake Michigan thank you. Corrections from last month about recycling fluorescent light bulbs and electronics waste: Fluorescent bulbs are accepted at any of MMSD’s Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection sites, not at any City of Milwaukee self-help center as the February column indicated. MMSD has three collection sites, but only one of them is located at a city self-help site (the Lincoln Ave location). For the locations and hours of MMSD’s three HHW collection sites, go to www.mmsd.com and click on “Household Hazardous Waste Collection.” The one on Lincoln Ave is only open Fridays and Saturdays from 7 am to 3 pm, separate from the city’s Self-Help hours. Not all electronics are accepted at the city’s self help centers: only computers and computer peripherals. No TV’s or anything else at this time. Both of the City’s self-help centers accept computers and computer peripherals. Locations and hours and other info at http://www.mpw.net/Pages/selfhelp.htm. Wisconsin State Senate Bill SB397 would require producers of electronics to assume responsibility for e-waste in Wisconsin. Contact your legislators to show them your support! Cell phones are not accepted by the city, but there are plenty of places that do. The nonprofit group Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful at 1313 W. Mount Vernon is one. The DMV emissions station on St. Paul and 24th is another. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (www.rbrc.org) maintains a searchable list of retailers that accept rechargeable batteries and cell phones for free. Send your ecological inquiries to our resident ecologist at

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