Did you know that pets can have a sizable impact on sustainability and the environment? Just as humans generate a lot of waste, pets have a large ecological “paw print” of their own. Maintaining an eco-friendly household with your furry friend is cost-effective, trendy, and good for the planet. Many pet supplies, such as leashes, collars, kennels, and toys, can be reused and recycled to avoid waste. Here are several tips on how to be an eco-friendly pet owner.
Buy natural cat litter
Many cat litter varieties on the market are made with a substance called sodium bentonite. This substance is obtained via strip mining, which is a highly destructive way to access minerals in the earth. Strip mining can also displace wildlife due to habitat loss.
Thankfully, eco-friendly cat products are readily available for green pet parents, including natural litters made from wood shavings, corn, and even fibrous material from renewable wheat. Biodegradable litter boxes made of eco-friendly paper are also a great option.
Use eco-friendly dog products
You can avoid putting chemicals onto your precious pet and into the ecosystem by choosing natural grooming products. Pay attention to your pet’s shampoo ingredients, and make it your mission to buy nontoxic products that are free from dyes and parabens. You can also make homemade bathing products using castile soap, and control ticks and fleas by washing your pet’s bedding regularly with soap and water.
Choose eco-friendly companies for pet food
Dogs and cats are responsible for about 25% to 30% of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the United States, in terms of the use of land, fossil fuels, pesticides, and water. For this reason, many pet food companies are beginning to churn out food products that contain ground crickets and worms instead of meat or fish.
Sustainable pet food is not only good for your pet nutritionally, but it’s also beneficial for the environment. Edible bugs have a high nutritional content of fats and proteins, and they’re a food source that can be reared on organic waste.
Protect the flora and fauna
Studies have shown that dogs and cats have a big negative impact on their surrounding ecosystem. For instance, it is estimated that cats kill between 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion birds each year in the United States. They also kill and maim other small creatures, such as voles, rabbits, and lizards.
Responsible pet owners can reduce their cats’ impact on the environment by keeping them indoors. If you own or care for an outdoor cat, make sure to outfit your feline with a breakaway collar and bell. This will at least give birds and small prey an audio warning that your cat is on the prowl.
Felines shouldn't shoulder all the blame when it comes to the environmental damage caused by pets. Dogs can be equally problematic. Like felines, loose dogs will chase and kill wildlife. Dogs can also dig up indigenous plant species while hunting for ground-dwelling mammals. To minimize the environmental impact of dogs, owners should always keep their pets safely confined in a fenced yard or on a leash when outdoors.
Clean up after your dog's waste
Picking up your dog's waste is an unpleasant and smelly job. It can be tempting to skip the cleanup and leave your pet's poop while you're on a walk. Did you know that dogs in the United States produce approximately 10.6 million tons of poop a year? Even worse, dog waste is full of pathogens, including harmful bacteria. When you fail to pick up your dog waste, rain can carry those contaminants into waterways.
Switch to biodegradable waste bags
Did you know that plastic bags can take 10 to 1,000 years to decompose? Make it a point to buy biodegradable bags for cleaning waste off the ground instead of plastic ones.
Buy green toys and supplies
Instead of buying pet accessories that contain harmful plastic, consider opting for eco-friendly pet supplies made with natural fibers or recyclable materials. Sustainable dog toys are often made with organic cotton, hemp, recycled rubber, and azo-free dyes.
Don’t want to buy new? Try shopping for beds, toys, kennels, collars, and other supplies at thrift shops. Instead of throwing out items that your pet no longer uses, you can donate gently used toys to local animal shelters or to other pet parents.
Sustainable pet ownership can help keep your furry friend and the planet healthy. By choosing sustainable products and taking these tips into consideration, you and your pet can maintain a happy, healthy relationship while reducing your carbon footprint.
Editor’s Note: Give your pooch a place to escape the elements. Click here to read our step-by-step guide on how to build a doghouse.
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.