What do you do with your dog or cat poop? Toss it in the garbage? Put it in your compost heap? Hurl it at your noisy neighbors? Well, according to Seattle researcher Lawrence Green, you shouldn’t be doing any of those things. Feces can contain wonderful things like toxoplasma parasites, E. coli, and salmonella bacteria, which can get into the groundwater. In plastic bags in landfills, it generates methane gas and attracts vermin. To that end, Green developed a product called the BokashiPetCycle Fermenting System. It allows you to pickle your pet’s poop, turning it into a harmless plant fertilizer.

The Bokashi system consists of two airtight containers, a liquid fermentative accelerant, and a dry culture mix made from wheat bran, molasses and microorganisms (it was actually sounding kind of yummy there, at first).

You start by mixing some of the accelerant with water in one of the containers. Over the next several days you periodically add poop to it, spritzing the feces with accelerant and adding culture mix when dumping them in. Once full, you allow the container to sit for a week while you add to the second one. After that you dig a hole, dump the pickled poop in, mix it around with the soil, cover it over, then dig it it up again in two weeks. What you should end up with is innocuous, nutrient rich soil.

The idea for the system came from a similar one Green had already devised for processing kitchen waste. “The only real difference between food waste and pet waste is that a dog or cat has removed in the gut the easy stuff and left behind undigestible material which is primarily cellulose and a lot of microbes with protein,” he told us. “The waste material is alkaline and there are not enough sugars to get our microbes working quickly... After some research I could, with an accelerant, get them working on the cellulose. I knew the metabolites formed would be bad for E. coli and other pathogens, so it worked out well. The waste is degraded and the pathogens are depleted and destroyed naturally before pet poop gets to the soil.”

A complete system costs $US119.95, with accelerant refills running $29.95 (one bottle should be good for about 16 batches.) They are available through the Bokashicycle website.