Denver, CO

Opinion: Denver should consider poop bags for people experiencing homeless

David Heitz
People pick up their dog's droppings all the time. People experiencing homelessness all should have a way to dispose of their poop.Photo byMatthew LeJune/Unsplash

It’s old news that downtown Denver’s streets are full of human feces. So why isn’t the city and non-profits passing out poop bags to people experiencing homelessness?

I saw a story on KDVR today about the state giving out poop kits to hikers. I had no idea poop kits were a thing. My first thought was they should be made available to people experiencing homelessness immediately.

The kits KDVR reported on contain a shovel and pellets made of mushrooms. The idea is you bury your feces when in the woods and use the tablets to break it down more quickly.

Obviously, that would not work in an urban environment. But there are other kinds of poop bags on the market, costing about $3 each online. These bags are a way to store the poop until it can be disposed of, presumably in the trash.

Before everyone tells me human poop is toxic, I understand that. But don’t we throw dirty diapers in the trash? Dog and cat poop goes to the landfill. Isn’t poop better in a sealed bag in a landfill than splattered on city streets?

Bags cost $3 each

For $3 a pop, the poop bags could pay dividends in terms of a cleaner, safer downtown. You may think homeless people wouldn’t use the bags. Wrong. One of the most humiliating things about homelessness is not having a place to go to the restroom. I will admit, I pooped outside a few times when I was homeless for a year. It would make me so angry that I could not find a restroom in a city as big as Denver.

I absolutely think most people experiencing homelessness would use poop bags if offered to them. These bags should be as commonplace among people experiencing homelessness as hand warmers. Those are given out en masse in the winter months.

Denver is a wealthy city. The city spends a quarter of a billion dollars annually on homelessness. Non-profits abound, with many handing out hygiene kits containing a toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, comb, bandages and more. The poop bags should be standard in the hygiene kits.

My crusade for more restrooms

I have written extensively about the lack of restrooms in Denver. Earlier this week I asked the Denver City Council if any of them planned to do anything about the obvious lack of public restrooms in the city. Nobody responded.

There are things the council could do to increase the public restroom count. They could impose stricter regulations and enforcement upon businesses, for starters.

Would dog poop bags work?

A few people on Reddit have suggested homeless people should be given dog poop bags. The Redditors have pointed out they are very cheap, as little as $1.25 for 100. “They're sturdy: I've used the Dollar Tree version for giant dogs. They lay turds easily as big as a full grown man. The bags hold up fine.”

I think poop bags for people experiencing homelessness are a great idea, but restrooms with running water would be far more humane. It used to be that using the restroom was sacred. Businesses kept them clean and always open. But those days are gone.

Giving homeless people a bag to poop in is sort of like giving them a tent to live in. Neither is ideal, but at least they acknowledge a problem.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

Denver, CO

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