Around 67% of households in the U.S. (or 85 million families) own a pet in the U.S., according to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). Moreover, the vast majority of people consider their pets to be part of the family. Like their humans, however, pets have a carbon ‘pawprint’ that can be reduced by embracing the green lifestyle. Whether you have dogs, cats, birds, fish, or other animals at home, how can you work to reduce their environmental impact while also reducing your own? This post is all about embracing an eco-friendly lifestyle with your pet.
The Global Impact of Pet Food Production
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have found that around 49 million hectares of land are used to make pet food for cats and dogs, and that the pet food industry creates greenhouse emissions of 106 million tonnes of CO2 yearly. However, it’s not as bad as it seems. Pets can reduce the human carbon footprint in many indirect ways – for instance, by reducing the amount of air travel their humans take and by encouraging people to head for the Great Outdoors more often, thus strengthening their bond with nature. In order to reduce the impact of pet food, steps to take include bulk buying, making your own pet food according to vet-supervised standards, and supporting companies like Yora, which create insect-based foods for pets (this food causes 96% less CO2 emissions than beef).
Embracing Green Cleaning
The Environmental Protection Agency has warned that the air in American homes can be two to five times more polluted than the air outside. This can be attributed to the large number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other toxins emitted by items such as toxic cleaning products, scented candles, pressed wood furniture, flame retardants contained in soft furnishings, and more.
Harsh cleaning products like bleach are also dangerous, causing a wide array of symptoms for human beings and pets. You can keep your home spick and span while embracing eco friendly cleaning methods such as steam vacuuming (which only requires water despite being highly efficient).
There are also a plethora of ‘green’ cleaning products around which are free of carcinogens, DNA-altering compounds, phosphates, and phosphonates. You (and especially your pets) spend nearly all of your time indoors so make sure your indoor air quality is up to scratch.
Choosing Sustainable Accessories for Your Pets
Most people enjoy pampering their pets with items such as cute bowls, harnesses, and pet boots and shoes for the winter months and for very hot days (since little paws can burn under the hot sun). It is vital to check into the materials used to make all these products.
Choose sustainable bowls (made from renewable materials such as bamboo) and clothing and harnesses made from reclaimed, upcycled, and Repreve recycled fabrics. Just a few brands to look out for are Eco-Pup Dog Clothing and The Long Dog Clothing Company. The latter donates thousands of meals to their animal rescue partners and offers ethical, sustainable options. Eco-Pup Dog Clothing, meanwhile, makes all items from certified organic, sustainable fabrics.
The Tiny Details Matter
Poop bags are something most pet owners don’t give much thought to but there are many companies that make these items from certified compostable materials (such as Beyond Green). This company has a lofty aim indeed: that of planting a whopping 50 million trees by the year 2023. Toys are another product to look into. Noggins & Binkles, for instance, makes cute catnip-felt toys for cats, dog collars made from vegan cork, and pet beds from eco-friendly organic cotton fabric featuring fully removable and washable covers (to ensure you get maximum use from your chosen bed). They also make bow ties, toys, and ID tags, revealing the extent to which you truly can make green choices in the vast majority of items you purchase for your pets. You can also do your share for the Planet by creating or joining groups of pet owners. You can decide to share, trade, or hand down items that are in good condition but which your pet has grown out of or simply does not use. Finally, support companies that reuse packaging, reuse or recycle materials like cardboard, and communicate with customers online rather than printing their communications.
Being Kind to Wildlife
Cats can have a big effect on local wildlife. Those who wish to preserve the lives of birds and other little animals can restrict the amount of times their cats are outside. Wildlife tends to be most active at dusk and dawn so keeping your pet home at this time can help to reduce predation. When walking your dog, keep it on a lead in areas where you know wildlife is present. Entice your cat to enjoy its time indoors by buying him with perches, sleep tubs, and tiered perches.
Sustainability is the buzzword across the globe and if you are a pet owner there is no reason why you cannot make greener choices for yourself and your pet. Start out by embracing companies that care, give back, and do their best to reduce their carbon footprint. Embrace green cleaning for pure indoor air. Finally,do your best to lower your pets’ impact on surrounding wildlife.
Kritter Kommunity Contributor
BIO: Janey is a freelance writer who has spent her whole life around animals. As well as her two dogs and two cats, the family recently welcomed a pair of guinea pigs for her daughters to look after. It’s a case of history repeating itself, as Janey will never forget her own very first pet, a guinea pig called Patch!