Make Pet Ownership Green
If you’re reading this you’re probably already pursuing a green lifestyle to some degree. But have you ever considered taking a closer look at the eco-impact of your favorite furry friends? There are lots of simple ways to make sure pet ownership is environmentally friendly!
From greener grooming and natural food, to cleaning up after Fido and Fluffy’s “accidents” and ridding them of pests, you can reduce your pet’s carbon paw print and improve their health and quality of life. Here are our top tips for caring for your four-legged family members while also caring for the environment.
- Number One Tip: If you’re looking to adopt, please visit a local shelter. There are thousands of deserving, adoptable pets at shelters and animal rescues just waiting for the right owner and a loving home. And adopting from a shelter means you won’t be supporting mass-breeding puppy mills, known for housing animals in shockingly poor living conditions and contributing to over-population. If you’re conducting your search for the ideal pet friend online, check out pet adoption site Petfinder, as well as the ASPCA and the Humane Society of America.
- Speaking of overpopulation, please take Bob Barker’s famous advice: Have your pet spayed or neutered. According to the ASPCA, approximately 3 to 4 million companion animals are euthanized each year and estimates for stray animals living in the U.S. are staggering – upwards of 70 million for cats alone. Pet overpopulation takes a major toll on our environment, too, so do your part by taking this important step for your pet and the planet.
- Organic for you and Rover, too! Most of us make an effort to buy as much healthy, organic food for our families as we can, so make sure to look for organic options when considering food for your pet. Conventional pet foods have been known to contain some pretty nasty ingredients including pesticides, added hormones, animal byproducts, and antibiotics. You might also remember the massive pet food recall from 2007 that was responsible for killing thousands of dogs and cats. The culprit ingredient, melamine, is more commonly found in plastics, cleaning products, and fertilizer. Yes, organic pet food can get pretty pricey – but healthy pets with healthy diets can have fewer vet visits and medical bills. This easily offsets the expense of better quality pet food.
- Our walkways and driveways can get pretty icy in the winter months. Instead of stocking up on rock salt to help clear your walking paths, opt for a pet-, kid- and environmentally-friendly de-icing alternative. Safe Paws offers some great salt-free ice melting options that won’t harm pets or kids if accidentally ingested, and they’re recommended by EarthShare member charity Natural Resources Defense Council.
- Fleas and ticks cause misery to people and animals. On pets they can spread disease and parasitic infections. Then they may decide to feast on you! But you can avoid and get rid of these common pests without harming your pet, your family or the planet. Don't overlook the basics: Keep your pet clean; use a fine-toothed flea comb to remove existing fleas; and don't forget to dust and vacuum regularly--some people use borax to kill fleas by sprinkling it on their carpet, then vacuuming it up. Another way to keep fleas off pets is to add garlic and brewer's yeast to their meals, which makes them taste bad to bugs. Many such products are sold in pet supply stores.
- Bag your pooch’s poop with biodegradable bags instead of plastic grocery bags. You can find biodegradable options at most pet stores. Remember: plastic bags take forever to decompose in landfills, and many of those bags end up in our waterways and oceans. Want to go the extra mile? Consider composting your pet’s poop in a pet waste composter.
- Buy in bulk and recycle. This is kind of a no-brainer, but it’s always good to get in a friendly reminder. Buying in bulk the pet supplies you use most often will cut down on packaging waste and car trips. And just as you would recycle your own food containers, make sure to add your pet’s empty cans, bags and bottles to your sorting bins instead of the trashcan.
- Use natural grooming and pet-care products. Shampoos and other pet products often contain more chemicals than you bargained for, so make sure to read the label before lathering up your furry friends with a mega-chemical-cocktail shampoo. We’re not recommending any particular brand – just apply the same caution about ingredients when purchasing your pets’ grooming products that you would when purchasing your own.
- We all know that ID tags are an absolute requirement for any pet that will be spending time outdoors. You can even go green with your tags – just opt for a pet tag made from recycled materials like aluminum, steel, or silver. Check out Etsy and Dog Tag Art for some creative eco-friendly tags.