The Blue Bags

Nevada City, California

©2015 Dale Smith


At first, the use blue plastic bags to dispose of dog excrement deposited along the Ditch Trail seems like a good idea. Who doesn’t want a trail free of doggie-do?

Lately I’ve been wondering, with each blue bag I pass along the trail, why we bother to bag up our dog’s shit at all. After all, to put an object in a bag suggests value. Our groceries are put in bags. Gifts are put in bags. Stuff we want to keep goes in bags. But dogshit? 

I’ve used these blue bags once or twice. The first time I picked up my terrier’s turd I was struck by how warm and, in this case, firm the steaming excrement was. With a mere .006 plastic membrane separating my skin from the actual turd, the blue bag of hot shit was the perfect hand-warmer for a cold day in February. So, after enjoying a moment of warmth, I knotted the bag I went on my way, hoping I would remember to pick it up and dispose of it on my way back to the trailhead. I’m one of the lucky ones. My dog usually does her business within the first few minutes of starting our walk. This means that on the return trip I don’t have to carry the bag of shit very far. My chances of running into someone I know, or being introduced to someone I don’t know by someone I do know while holding a bag of dogshit, are mercifully slim. 

At the trailhead I open the lid of the Blue Bag receptacle and notice maybe twenty or thirty bags of doggie-do already in there. I drop mine in, there it goes, not my problem anymore. I wonder why the container has to be so strong. Is there concern that bears will destroy it in their frenzy to get at the bags of shit? “Hey, Bruno, look at all these bags of shit! Sweet!” 

I wonder what happens to these bags of shit once they are picked up. Probably they are taken to the transfer station out on McCourtney and eventually carted off to some landfill. I mean, what else could happen to them? Does someone burn them in a fifty-gallon drum in their backyard? How gross would that be? Not to mention environmentally unfriendly.

In the landfill these plastic bags of shit will still be plastic bags of shit in ten years. In 100 years. In 1,000 years. For eternity. Can you imagine some archeologist of the future sifting through the ruins of our civilization and discovering a vein of these plastic bags? “Man, these folks were into some weird stuff, Bob… what were they thinking, bagging up all this crap?” “Ohhhh, man, I just poked a hole in one,” says his co-worker. “Shit!”   

I no longer bag shit. No, it just doesn’t make sense to me, anymore. What I do is kick shit. Yes, I’m a shit-kicker and proud of it. Through trial and some pretty disgusting error, I’ve developed dependable techniques that allow me to launch turds–using nothing but the bottom of my shoe and the pendulum swing of my leg–fifteen or twenty feet into the forest. What’s the point? you might say. I challenge anyone to bring me a dog turd found in the vicinity of the trail that is more than a year old. When a turd is kicked into the forest in its natural, organic state, it becomes part of the forest. It decays. Organisms that help break it down attack it. Nutrients are released into the soil. The kicked shit becomes one with the ecosystem, while the bagged turd becomes nothing at all, just another piece of crap in the landfill. 

So, the next time you bend over to pick up a warm turd with your plastic-wrapped hand, ask yourself: “Is this shit really necessary? Am I doing the right thing? Or does it just seem like I’m doing the right thing?”