With 39% of households in Australia owning at least one dog, there are Australia's most popular pet. But did you know that the 4.2 million dogs in Australia will generate 6.3 million tonnes of poo over their lifetimes? That's a mountain's worth that we dump in landfills or leave uncollected to pollute our rivers and beaches. Furthermore, as the dog population in Australia continues to grow, so will the issue of dog 'waste' disposal in our communities faced with increasing population growth and urbanisation, a limited amount of suitable park spaces and shrinking landfill sites.
Poo Power! is a pioneering Melbourne project that aims to light up Australia - literally and figuratively - by tapping into the 1,400 tonnes of dog poo discarded on a daily basis. In June 2012 an education campaign was launched with the assistance of Inspiring Australia and Melbourne Water to raise awareness of the issues of dog waste. These include the biogeneration from waste, ecological sanitation and water ecosystem protection through informative social media, educational resources, its outreach program, and other events to engage Australian communities.
A Poo Power! biogas generator was also designed at the end of 2013 showcasing how the renewable energy produced from dog poo and other organic wastes can be used to provide light to super-power your dog parks in the early morning and evening peak periods.
Duncan Chew is the man behind Poo Power! that shines a light on this innovation. In 2013 the project was under the auspice of the Yarra Energy Foundation and an interdisciplinary student team from Swinburne Design Factory. This year, the focus is on continuing our work in realising our vision of cleaner, safer parks for everyone.
"The reason dogs are the most critical environmental of our time because dogs are the widest doorway into what's now called "ecological perception." We co-evolved with dogs. Our brains, literally, are intertwined with their brains. So they make this transition easier.
"Essentially, if we can start seeing dogs for what they really are - a wild animal that really enjoys our company - and not as an object of human pleasure or a piece of property - this small shift will lead to other deeper and deeper changes. We can become much better ecological citizens of this world by becoming much better companions to our dogs... it's that simple."
- Steven Kotler, A Small Furry Prayer
"The dog waste idea has been something that has been ticking around in my head for a while but it wasn't until 2010 when a large malignant tumour was discovered in my right leg that I was provided with the opportunity during my rehabilitation to look into this issue further. As the owner of two boxers (Sally and Diesel) I have been perplexed by dog owners who readily scoop their dogs' poo in plastic bags only to send it to landfill. Surely, there must be a better way? And so the dog poo power project was born, through a love of dogs that will guide us into this brighter future." - Duncan.
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