Plastic Dog Bags at the Dog ParkKelly Kokaisel | MCAD | Sp ‘10DESIGN ALTERNATIVES
CURRENT DESIGN SITUATION I would like to see a redesign of doggie bags at dog parks. I have a very small yard and a rather large dog, a Standard Poodle named Ophelia. She, like many other dogs in the area, needs to be exercised for 30-60 minutes a day and needs a large space in which she can run and burn off her energy so I take her to the local dog park by my house. I enjoy being there almost as much her, but there is one aspect I do not enjoy; the amount of plastic bags being used to collect dog waste. A dog owners know, when a dog runs around they tend to work up their system, so that means that pretty much every dog ‘goes’ every time it goes to the park. That’s a lot of poo. So much poo, in fact, that there is always a garbage can full of dog poo ridden plastic bags (that stinks to high heaven, may I add). There has got to be a better way to dispose of the waste without using so much plastic.
CURRENT DESIGN SITUATION Design buyers are dog owners who take their dogs to public locations. Here, they have a need to curb their dog. The design users include the dog owners, but also the park owners (the city, generally) as well. The park owners have a need to keep the park free of pet waste. The park owners also have to meet this need as cheaply as possible. The current design is to reuse plastic shopping or newspaper bags. The current process is to reuse plastic bags for pet waste cleanup and then throw it all into the trash bin at the dog park. The plastic is created from oil, transported, processed, and manufactured into bags which are then transported to the store or newspaper company using them. Here the design buyer obtains the bag for its primary purpose and brings it home for later use at the dog park for its secondary use. Here it is disposed of into the trash bin. This trash then goes to the landfill, where it will sit for hundreds to thousands of years. Although this design process reuses the bag, it has a very high impact due to the processing of oil and disposal into the landfill.
ALTERNATIVE #1: ON-SITE COMPOST One design alternative would be to compost the waste on site. Industrial ‘pooper scoopers’ could be provided, or at least signs could be posted urging people to bring their own to clean up their pet’s waste with, avoiding the use of plastic bags all together. To avoid smell, pits or containers could be Design buyers are same as current design. The design users are same as current design, but this design brings in more interaction from the city, while also providing them with a greater service, and a free product— compost. This design uses a scooper that is most likely made of plastic, but has a much longer lifecycle, reducing the amount of plastic going into the landfill. On site, a product something like a golf ball cleaner at a golf course could be provided to allow cleaning for transportation of the scooper back home. Rainwater could be collected for use in the scooper cleaner. This scooper cleaner could then be a self sustaining product. Soap could be donated by the users from leftovers in bottles. The waste would be gathered with the tool and put into the compost pit to decay. The pit would have multiple layers or chambers that allow the decomposed material to sink to the bottom to be easily retrieved for use by the city. The plastic is created from oil, transported, processed, and manufactured into pooper scoopers. The scoopers are transported to the store where the design buyer purchases the item and brings it home. Here it can remain useful for at least a year or more, depending on quality. The scoopers could be made for easy disassembly and recycling out of a type of plastic, or it could be made of a resin from corn, for example, that could be composted itself. This design uses the principle of locality to reduce transportation cost, and lightness by eliminating the need for a bag
ALTERNATIVE #2: COMPOSTABLE BAGS A second design alternative would be to provide compostable bags, or at least regulate the use of compostable bags. Design buyers are same as current design. The design users are same as current design, and meets the needs just the same. The pet owner may have to put a little more effort into obtaining compostable bags instead of plastic ones. This design uses a bag made of corn or other renewable, compostable material. The rest of the materials remain the same, offering little barrier to change. The waste would be gathered with the bag the same way it is currently and disposed of in the trash. An on-site compost container could also be used with this design. The plastic is created from corn or other renewable, compostable material, transported and processed into bags, and bought by the pet owner or city for use at the park. The bag will decompose into the ground along with the waste, fertilizing the earth. These bags could be disposed of in the trash as they are now. This requires very little effort from the design buyer. This design reduces what we take from the earth, and reduce the impact of what we put back into the earth.
ALTERNATIVE #3: CREATE A SERVICE A third design alternative would be to create a service that provided kiosks that provided plastic bags that were either recycled or reused and also provides a depository for the waste. They would then come pick it up deliver it to their facility where they would separate the plastic from the waste, turn the waste into compost and recycle the bags into new bags. This design would be easiest on the user but require money from the city so park use fees would likely be required to maintain this design. Design buyers are same as current design. The design users are same as current design, and meets the needs just the same. The pet owner would have to put no effort in themselves, making this a probable successful solution. This design uses a bag made of corn or other renewable, compostable, or recycled material, a small kiosk station somewhat similar to the pet clean up stations at pet stores, and a disposal receptacle (could be a standard trash can, but made with recyclable or compostable materials). The waste would be gathered with the bag the same way it is currently and disposed of in the trash receptacle. The plastic is created from corn or other renewable, compostable material, transported and processed into bags, and bought to the park by the service. The dirty bags would then be brought by the vendor to the processing plant where it would be separated into bags and waste and either recycled or composted, respectively. This is a closed loop system for the bags and reduces inputs, outputs, and transportation impacts.
ALTERNATIVE #4: EDUCATE THE USER A fourth design alternative would be to not create a new product, but a service that would educate users on the impacts of their actions. This could be as simple as volunteers on location handing out (recycled) flyers and talking with people about their decisions and actions relating to their pet waste clean up, and those impacts on the planet. Or it could be as involved as kiosks on location that give the owner something to do while they are there and educated themselves so that they can make better decisions. Design buyers are same as current design. The design users are same as current design, and meets the needs just the same. The user would also be fulfilling needs to learn and understand their impacts. This would stimulate a sense of community and give a sense of satisfaction to the user for taking their design decisions into their own hands. This design uses a design alternative of the users choice. The kiosk would describe the alternatives to using traditional plastic bags, the impacts or not, and the benefits of doing so. The kiosk would be set up by a contract vendor to the city and maintained by them. The city would pay the vendor for the service and a fee would be charged for use of the park. The lifecycle would be any of the cycles described earlier, depending on the choice of the user. This variety encourages growth and new development in ideas among users as they talk about and fine tune their disposal decisions. The kiosks could be repurposed for other kiosk needs if they were to be removed from the location.