Ever since the domestication of animals during our times as hunter-gatherers in the plains of sub-Saharan Africa, taking care of our furry friends has always been resource intensive. Now, as we pamper our pets with new toys and yummy treats, it is more important than ever to make sure that we do so in a sustainable fashion in order to protect our environment and lower our carbon footprints! The ASPCA estimates that there are already between 144 to 176 million companion animals in United States homes alone. Just imagine the positive environmental impact we would have if we each just took a few simple steps to act more eco-friendly!
6 Ways to Be a Sustainable Pet Owner
1. Adopt from animal shelters – Instead of buying a pet from a breeder which can come with a whole host of problems and risks, adopt from a pet shelter. There are millions of pets needing homes around the world! By adopting, not only are you saving the planet by creating less demand to breed new dogs, but are also saving the resources of the shelter facility for other pets that may need help as well.
2. Use sustainable care products – Many of the products that you use on a daily basis to keep your pet healthy and clean can be purchased from environmentally friendly brands that promote sustainability. You can usually tell by their labeling and their use of recycled materials in packaging. Make sure to also never waste or use unnecessary amounts of pet care products in order to conserve resources!
3. Cook your own treats/pet foods – Save money and wasteful plastic packaging by cooking and baking your pet’s treats at home! There are plenty of online resources available to learn how to make healthy and taste foods for your pet no matter the budget. Here are some for your convenience:
4. Feed your pets eco-friendly pet food- You don’t have to put your pet on a plant-based diet to be sustainable. By purchasing food products that contain sustainable or plant-based ingredients, your pet can reduce their carbon paw print. Consider purchasing from pet food companies that promote recycling such as Open Farm and Wellness TruFood as they find innovative ways to utilize recyclable materials and recyclable packaging.
5. Play with environmentally sustainable toys- Just by using pet toys that are made of sustainable materials can make a sizable impact on the environment. Purchasing pet toys at stores may use wasteful packaging or unneeded resources. Swap store-bought chew toys for other eco-friendly alternatives such as knotted shirts, stuffed animals, or old balls to reduce waste. You can even attempt to make handcrafted toys for your animal friends; cats love playing with scrap yarn and paper towel rolls.
6. Animal Waste Composting- remember to pick up pet poop; animal waste can be toxic to water sources close by. Throwing it into the trash also has a negative impact on the environment when it gets dumped into landfills where the pet waste sits and decays for many years. Instead of disposing of the pet poop in the trash, try utilizing some eco-friendly practices; turn it into compost or use biodegradable bags to flush it down the toilet.