According to the AVMA, more than 48 million dogs and 31 million cats live in U.S. households. As we celebrate Earth Day on April 22, those numbers put into perspective the impact that eco-friendly pet ownership can have on the world. People have gone green in so many aspects of their lives, and there are several ways they can be environmentally friendly when it comes to pet ownership as well.
1. Use Sustainable Pet Products
There are dozens of pet product companies focused on creating sustainable products that use ethically-sourced and environmentally-friendly materials. It's possible to go green in your everyday pet purchases, from the food you purchase to the toys your pet plays with.
Sustainable pet products on the market include:
- Food products that use sustainably-sourced ingredients
- Snacks for cats or dogs made with upcycled ingredients
- Pet food and toy products in recycled or sustainable packaging
- Eco-friendly kitty litters, including these options researched by Green Matters
- Biodegradable poop bags
- Collars made from natural fibers
2. Buy Pet Food in Bulk
As with any product, buying cat or dog food in bulk reduces packaging that clogs landfills across the country and even the world. Also, look for labels on the packaging that note it comes in recycled materials and, if recyclable, ensure you do that yourself when you finish the product.
3. Compost Pet Waste
Animal feces left outdoors can be hazardous to nearby water sources through runoff and dangerous to curious animals roaming the area. In addition, using plastic poop bags and tossing them into the trash is environmentally unfriendly and contributes significantly to landfills. The most eco-friendly way to handle your pet’s waste is to compost. Composting requires nitrogen-rich, wet organic materials such as food waste, grass cuttings, and pet feces, along with dry, carbon-rich materials such as sawdust, leaves, or shredded paper. How and where you compost depends on your living environment and if you have a yard, as detailed by the American Kennel Club.
4. Make Your Own Pet Treats
Making your own pet treats can spare your pet from ingesting questionable ingredients and save wasteful packaging that contributes to already overflowing landfills. Choose sustainably-sourced ingredients and package your homemade treats in reusable containers. However, before attempting to make your own treats, check with your veterinarian to confirm the ingredients you’ve selected are safe and healthy for your pet.
5. Adopt from a Shelter
According to the ASPCA, approximately 6.3 million companion animals enter U.S. shelters every year. The volume of pets in shelters requires an extreme amount of resources, including toys, staff, food, bedding, and more. Some of those resources are detrimental to the environment, including cheap plastic toys since shelters have limited funds for quality, eco-friendly toys. One must also consider the gas used by staff and volunteers to travel to and from shelters to help care for the high volume of pets. Adopting from a shelter means one less pet utilizing critical resources, conserving them for another pet in need.
6. Use Environmentally Friendly Grooming and Preventative Products
We know the wide array of pet-related products can be overwhelming, so why not choose one that is sustainable and/or plant-based? Also, be wary of flea and tick preventatives that, according to the American Kennel Club, “have harmful chemicals that leave residue on your dog’s fur and around the house.” The ingredients they advise you to stay away from are tetrachlorvinphos, propoxur, amitraz, and permethrin. The article is also careful to note that some of the “all-natural” options aren’t effective at preventing fleas and ticks from harming your pets, so consult your veterinarian on your choices.
7. Don’t Forget the “Reuse” in the Triple R Rule
We often think of reducing and recycling when going green, but we tend to forget the “reuse” part of that catchy, environmentally friendly rule. If you’ve had a dog pass away and you’re thinking of waiting a while until you get another, consider donating that gently used pet bed or blankets. You can even donate your leftover food depending on the rules of your nearest shelter.
Contact us if you would like to learn more about going green as a pet owner, and lessen your environmental pawprint.