It’s Earth Day today, and I’ve got lots of suggestions for eco-friendly ways to reduce your carbon “paw print”:
1. Ditch the Paper Towels
Use towels or rags instead of paper towels to clean up after your pet. If you just can’t break the paper towel cycle, consider using reusable personal hand towels that are machine-washable.
2. Think Before Trashing
Many items that your pet no longer uses or has grown out of might still be able to be put to use at a shelter. Call your local shelter to see if they need any of the items, or organize a swap with friends and neighbors.
3. Where Does the Poop Go?
Instead of using plastic bags to pick up after your dog or clean the litter box, use biodegradable bags. They typically break down in about 1 month as opposed to an estimated 1,500 years for a plastic bag in a landfill.
Cat litter is available in all-natural and biodegradable forms, and you can even consider making your own pet waste compost container.
If you’re considering a pet waste compost, here’s a helpful video to show how one man installed one in his backyard:
4. Adopt, Don’t Buy
Adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue instead of buying. This has a cascading effect: Puppy mills will have reduced demand, fewer animals will be bred for profit, and much-needed available space will open up in shelters — where many pets are being euthanized every day simply because there isn’t enough room for them all.
5. Make Your Donation Count
If you are still mailing checks to your favorite animal charity, switch to online or telephone donations or automatic direct debiting from a bank account (and go paperless on statements).
6. Check the Labels
Do your existing products use eco-friendly materials and packaging? Check the labels to see what is inside the product and if the bottle or container is recyclable or made of biodegradable materials. Stuck with plastic? Recycle after use.
7. Reusable Bags — Not Just for Groceries
Many people remember to bring reusable bags when they go to the grocery store, but you can use these for any pet store or vet trip. When heading out with your pet, grab one to to carry things back home with you.
8. Make Your Own Treats and Food
Many animals can live on perfectly healthy diets with meals made at home. Consult your veterinarian for advice. Homemade treats are another way to use ingredients you already have while saving a trip to the store and reducing packaging waste.
9. Containers Count
Use a washable and reusable container to store food and treats instead of a plastic bag.
10. Reduce Driving
Do you drive to a dog park just to walk around? Look for closer parks or nature trails, or arrange walks or play dates with friends and neighbors with their pets.
11. Bulk Up
Buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste and trips driving to the store. Check the expiration dates on large quantities to make sure it will all be consumed before it goes bad.
12. Trim the Fat
Overweight pets eat more and have more health problems and vet trips than healthy pets. Talk with your veterinarian about a plan to get your pet back to a healthy weight and rate of mobility.
13. Plates for the Pet
If you feed your pet food, treats or scraps by placing a paper plate on the floor, switch to a plate you can wash to reduce the paper waste. Designate or buy a plate that everyone knows is for the pet. Wash it separately by hand before storing it away from regular dishes.
14. Where’s the Beef?
Beef production reportedly uses more resources than other forms of protein, such as chicken or rabbit. Switch to a pet food based on proteins other than beef.
15. Spay and Neuter
Choosing to spay or neuter your pet will help prevent unwanted litters, reduce overpopulation and ease shelter overcrowding (see #4). Shelters may offer reduced-cost or free services from time to time.
16. Check Your Flea and Tick Medications
Choose meds that pose the least risk to the health of your pets and your household. This will help prevent or reduce health-care costs.
17. Eco-Friendly Pet Toys and Accessories
Look for leashes, collars, toys and even pet beds made from recycled or plant-based materials. Here at Petful, we sell some cute eco-friendly cat toys.
18. Cut Out the Chemicals
Reduce the chemicals in your home by making your own cleaners and deodorizers. Instead of spraying over a pet smell, you might already have everything you need right in your pantry.
19. Stop Using Plastic Bottles
If you use plastic bottles for your pet’s water or for taking water with you when you go out, install a filter on your tap water and use a permanent, washable bottle instead of plastic.