You, the modern-day pet owner, have the power to make a difference.
When people consider how to reduce their carbon footprints and develop more eco-friendly lifestyles, they rarely take their furry companions into account. Yet it’s altogether possible to have the best of both worlds in order to improve our world – enjoying the multitude of joys that accompany pet ownership and doing so in an environmentally-responsible manner.
The latest estimates indicate that nearly 80 million families own a pet in the United States, representing 65 percent of all domestic households. Translation: There’s incredible opportunity for dog and cat owners to have a profound impact on our fragile ecosystem, should they succeed at going green and at convincing fellow pet enthusiasts to do likewise.
There’s no time like the present to revisit your eco-friendliness and seek to extend sustainability practices to your pets. In a perfect world, each day would be treated as Earth Day, as environmental betterment starts with making simple lifestyle changes on an everyday basis. For their parts, your dog and cat will be happy to cooperate.
Rather than let sleeping dogs lie and accept the environmental status quo, serve as a catalyst of positive change for our world. Here are seven ways pet owners can achieve an eco-friendly approach:
1. Spay or Neuter Your Pet
When you do your part to reduce pet overpopulation, you’re doing the planet a favor. Not only do you help minimize the carbon footprint associated with animal shelter overcrowding, but you also reduce the surplus of stray cats and dogs. Excessive stray animal populations tend to disrupt their surrounding ecosystem by serving as invasive species that damage vegetation and kill native birds and rodents.
2. Seek Earth-Friendly Pet Toys
Not all pet toys are created equal. With toys that are constructed from recycled materials or plant-based products, your cat or dog can enjoy enriched playtime that’s not at the expense of the ecosystem. Want to take your environmentalism to the next level? Make playthings for your feline or canine out of discarded items around the house – just make sure these toys are safe for pets.
3. Rethink Your Handling of Pet Waste
Many pet owners rely on plastic bags when cleaning the yard or the litter box, yet eco-conscious alternatives exist. By using biodegradable bags, you can reduce the landfill lifespan of pet waste to a fraction of what disposal with plastic bags entails. Or, better yet, start a compost pile in your backyard for disposing of pet waste and eliminate bag usage for this purpose altogether.
4. Go Green When You Clean
As most pet owners can tell you, cleaning up after your cat or dog is serious business, requiring top-notch pet care products. Still, there’s no reason you can’t keep your home clean and free of pet odors without mortgaging your environmental future. Make the switch from paper towels to machine-washable rags and from store-bought cleaning products to homemade deodorizers.(?)
5. Feed the Need for Eco-Friendliness
There’s no doubt your pet loves mealtime. Thankfully, though, having your dog or cat enjoy nutritious food and contributing to earth-friendly practices aren’t mutually exclusive. Support pet food companies that have committed to decreasing environmental impact by incorporating chicken rather than resource-intensive beef as a protein source and by utilizing packaging materials that are recyclable. If you’re feeling ambitious, consider making healthy meals or treats for your pet at home.
6. Clean Up After Your Pet
Whether your pet does his business in the backyard or during a walk in the park, it’s a necessity that you clean up after him. Too often, pet waste that’s not properly disposed of gets swept into waterways during rainstorms, where it can ultimately contribute to algal blooms and pollute fresh water supplies. Your dedication to cleanup helps protect one of our planet’s most valuable resources.
7. Adopt Your Next Pet
Developing an “adopt, don’t shop” mentality can go a long way towards boosting sustainability endeavors. By rescuing a cat or dog, you potentially save an animal from a fate of euthanasia and reduce reliance on the many carbon-inducing resources consumed by the for-profit pet industry. When you adopt a needy pet into your home, everyone wins – including our ecosystem.