Walk Your Dog, Pick up Trash

Campaign rewards dog owners for collecting litter.

Dexter picks up trash
Dexter the sheltie goes trash hunting.


There have been lots of studies that show dog owners are more active than people who don't have canine companions. But having a dog isn't just good for your health, it can also be good for the environment.

A study published in Scientific Reports in 2019, found dog owners spend nearly 300 minutes each week walking their dogs. That's about 200 minutes more walking than people without dogs.

And when they're out on those strolls and hikes, maybe those dog walkers can pick up a little litter.

That's the hope of the new #EarthsBestFriend Cleanup Challenge campaign by the people behind #DogsofInstagram. The popular social media canine community is teaming with Project Blu, which offers pet products made from 100% recycled materials.

Pet owners are encouraged to visit parks, beaches, trails, and neighborhoods and clean them up while snapping photos and videos of their efforts.

"Our goal is to get at least 15,000 people to take action in cleaning up the planet, and we’ll be planting a tree for every submission we get," Rebecca Pollard, general manager of DogsOf, tells Treehugger.

A grand prize winner will receive $1,500 worth of products from sustainable brands, and they'll plant up to $5,000 in donations for trees.

Harbor of puppies.n.pinot fills up trash
Harbor helps fill up trash. @puppies.n.pinot

Just a few days into the campaign and photos and videos of dogs and their people have started to come in from all over the world.

"We’ve got pets who have helped their people collect bags and bags of trash, dogs carrying trash bags out to the bin, and we’ve even seen people hopping out on their boats to go collect trash in the ocean," says Pollard. "It is absolutely inspiring to see this community come together."

To get involved, grab your dog, your leash, and a bag and head outside. Snap some photos or videos while you're picking up trash and submit them to www.DogsOf.com. The campaign runs through May 22.

Pets and Litter

Though there are plenty of pet owners who are also great environmental stewards, there are many who don't even pick up after their pets, much less after other people. One small study found that only 60% of people cleaned up after their dogs.

According to the Leave No Trace organization, the dog waste problem is a growing issue in cities and parks. For example, the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks estimates that 80,000 pounds of pet waste are left in their land each year.

Lucas and Perla the Italian greyhounds
Lucas and Perla get to work. lucasandperla_theiggies

The key is to remind people not only to remember to clean up after their pets but to clean up after others.

"Think about how many people are out walking their dog every day! It’s an important part of caring for a pet," Pollard says.

"Whether it’s your daily walk routine, taking a hike, or spending a day at the dog beach, there are so many opportunities for people to take action in cleaning up their communities," she adds. "They just may not be thinking about it. This was a great way for us to remind pet parents that they can participate in creating a cleaner world within their normal daily routines."

View Article Sources
  1. Westgarth, Carri, et al. "Dog Owners are More Likely to Meet Physical Activity Guidelines than People Without a Dog: an Investigation of the Association Between Dog Ownership and Physical Activity Levels in a UK Community." Scientific Reports, vol. 9, no. 1, 2019, doi:10.1038/s41598-019-41254-6

  2. Webley, Paul, and Claire Siviter. "Why Do Some Owners Allow their Dogs to Foul the Pavement? The Social Psychology of a Minor Rule Infraction1." Journal of Applied Social Psychology, vol. 30, no. 7, 2000, pp. 1371-1380, doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2000.tb02525.x

  3. "Dealing with Dog Poop." Leave No Trace, 2009.