Many of us actively try to reduce our footprint on the environment, and believe it or not your pet makes a footprint too. However, the size of the footprint depends largely on you (the owner of your furry companion) when it comes to the choices you make regarding food, toys, waste, and so much more. Evaluating ways to cut down the amount of plastic you use, recycling, and buying products that are eco-friendly can make a big impact. Here are six ways you can “go green” with your pet.
1. Adopt, don’t shop. Considering adding another furry buddy to your home? Why not check out your local humane society or shelter? Many of the pets in shelters are well-behaved and loving, and just need a new place to call home. You’ll be saving a life, making a statement against puppy mills, and helping your local shelter continue taking in animals. Also, many pets adopted from a shelter are already spayed and neutered and are current on their vaccinations – which help prevent extra vet bills!
2. Make your own pet toys. Many household items can be used to make DIY pet toys. Try placing a few treats inside an empty gallon milk jug - with a few little holes cut out - and watch your dog figure out how to get them out (supervised of course, and not for heavy chewers that may eat the plastic). Or cut up old t-shirts into strips to braid into durable rope toys. Cats may be entertained with cardboard toilet paper rolls, a crumpled ball of paper or cardboard boxes. You can even try growing your own organic catnip to sprinkle on, or in, your kitty’s homemade toys.
3. Use biodegradable bags when cleaning up after your dog on walks. Most pet stores sell them and the bags decompose within months as opposed to decades like other plastic waste bags. If there is pet waste that needs to be picked up from your backyard, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states “flushing your pet’s waste in the best disposal method.” Alternatively, you could use a reusable metal “pooper scooper” to pick up waste from your backyard and then flush down the toilet. And according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), pet waste (from a healthy animal) can even be composted for use in the garden – though not for crops intended for human consumption. Please do your research before composting pet waste.
4. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle. Metal pet food cans are usually recyclable, as are many of the plastic containers that are used to package pet food. You can also search for pet supplies sold in recyclable bags or even toys that are made from recycled materials, such as beds made out of soda bottles or toys from old tires and other sustainable fibers.
5. Take advantage of cuddles during the colder months. When the temperatures drop, turn down your thermostat a couple of degrees and cuddle up next to your dog or cat for warmth instead. They likely won’t mind the extra attention!
6. Avoid clumping cat litter. This popular cat litter has several chemicals, which can be harmful to the environment and your cat. Not to mention, the litter is made from strip-mined clay. Opt instead for litters made from corn (even GMO-free corn), renewable wheat crops, wood shavings or recycled newspaper. However, your cat may dictate which litter option you stick with!
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