In honor of Earth Day this year, I have compiled a list of tips for eco-friendly pet owners. They’re all simple things we can do to keep our pets and the environment healthy.
Every small action has a ripple effect on the environment so if you have a pet or looking to adopt a pet, here are some tips to reduce some of those effects.
This is something we all hear when it comes to looking for a new pet. What we don’t hear is why it’s good for the environment. Adopting a pet from a shelter or a rescue reduces puppy mill “production”. Puppy Mills are basically factory farms for puppies and they’re very sad places. Purchasing a pet from a pet store creates more demand for puppy mills. Purchasing from a breeder creates a similar demand. The point is to reduce the number of pets in shelters and rescues. The fewer animals in puppy mills and shelters, the less environmental overhead that is created.
Related: Saying Goodbye to my Girl
Spaying and neutering your pets so they don’t procreate has a similar environmental impact as the above practice. If your pets are spayed and neutered, there are fewer animals that need homes or end up in shelters. Even if the animals don’t end up in shelters or worse, it still creates an environmental burden for the caretaker. More food, more trips to the vet, more waste.
Related: Why I Buy Cruelty-Free
Cleaning Up Dog Waste
Instead of using plastic bags to pick up after your dog use organic/biodegradable dog bags for cleaning up waste. These kinds of bags take about a month to decompose, versus the several hundred years it takes plastic bags to decompose.
See why it’s important for the environment to pick up after your pooch 7 Reasons to Scoop the Poop.
Buy in Bulk
Buying your pet food in bulk saves in so many ways – fewer trips to the pet store, less waste, fewer materials and energy used to create the pet food. It’s a win-win-win. The only thing to watch out for is the expiration date. If it’s going to expire before you use up the entire bag, you can always donate it to a local shelter instead of throwing it away. Then you’ll know better for next time how much and how fast your pet eats.
Watch their Weight
Maintaining your pet’s weight is not only crucial to their health but can help the environment as well. If you have an overweight pet, that usually means they’re consuming more food. They’re also producing more waste, which means more clean up. They’re also probably visiting the vet more because of their potential health issues – which means more driving and more pollution. It’s just better overall to keep your pet’s weight in check.
Wash with Organic Soap
Just like humans, pets need baths (some more than others) – so it’s important to be cautious of what we’re using to wash them. Whether you’re giving the dog a bath outside or in the bathtub (or sink), the remnants of that soap gets carried into the water supply or directly into the earth. I recommend using Dr. Bronner’s Castile Liquid Soap. It works great for an infrequent dog shampoo. (It even works for humans in a pinch.)
Change the Kitty Litter
Most indoor cats use a litter box. Typical cat litter consists of clays and minerals that wreak havoc on the environmental mining. I know cats can be picky about what they use in their boxes but there are some alternatives you can use: straw, sawmill waste, newspaper, or hemp. When it’s time to change out the litter, you can bury it in the backyard like compost. Even if you can’t bury the litter, at least it’s not so chemically damaging in a landfill.
*If you’re worried about smell, a top on the box usually helps keep it in check – and gives more privacy.
There are always things we can do to help keep our environmental impact to a minimum and including our pets are no different.
Let me know in the comments below what you think of these eco-friendly tips. Do you have anything to add?
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Christina is a twenty-something living with her beagle, Mash, and husband, Nate in their van. She loves traveling, shopping, art, and photography. She’s also a vegetarian, pop-culture enthusiast, book-lover, and Dave Matthews Band fanatic. Catch her somewhere around the country in a converted camper van or at home in Florida for a visit.