How to be an Environmentally-Responsible Pet Owner
At Run Those Dogs we care about the future of our planet. We take stewardship of its resources seriously. Earth Day on April 22 reminds us to lead by example and continue to find new ways to reduce our impact and preserve our environment for future generations of both people and their pets.
With hundreds of millions of pets across the world, being an eco-friendly pet owner can have a greater environmental impact than you might expect. We’ve put together this list of ways you can be an environmentally-responsible pet parent.
Dispose of Pet Waste Properly
One might think that leaving pet waste on the ground in the bushes of a park is “natural decomposition” but actually, that practice contributes significantly to contamination of our lakes, streams, and oceans. Pet waste makes the water unsafe to drink and play in and can impact the organisms living there like fish and birds.
April 1 – 7 is International Pooper Scooper Week. Since 2002, The Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists has been raising awareness about the importance of picking up after your pet. In 2014 it is estimated that U.S.’s 95 million dogs produced about 5.8 billion lbs. of waste. To help this problem carry compostable bags whenever you’re out with your dog. But beware! Manufacturers have been claiming their scoop bags are biodegradable when they actually aren’t. To be a real super scooper, read this article with the do’s and don’ts of scooping as well as a list of compostable bags that actually are.
Many owners compost their pet waste. Although not recommended for plants and crops meant for human consumption, it makes great fertilizer for perennial plants and trees when composted and applied correctly. There are plenty of tutorials online to help you start a compost pile with your pet waste.
Choose More Sustainable Pet Food
You can choose pet food from companies with a commitment to the planet. There are many that offer food produced sustainably and in populated areas, you’ll often find a ‘healthy pet food store’ that’s already done the research for you. One option is TerraCycle, who has partnered with pet food brands Open Farm and Wellness TruFood to open free recycling programs for pet food bag waste, allowing anyone to send in their pet food bags for recycling. Their program means pets can eat their favorite sustainably-produced food while packaging waste is diverted from the landfill.
Choosing a shelter over a breeder means you’re supporting their mission and efforts to reduce pet overpopulation. The ASPCA estimates that there are over 70 million stray cats in the U.S. Spaying or neutering your pets is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent further overpopulation. When strays – especially cats – multiply, they can severely disrupt the surrounding ecosystem. Feral cats are considered one of the worst invasive species on earth and are responsible for the death of more than one billion naturally-occurring birds and rodents each year.
Choose Earth-Friendly Pet Care Products and Toys
The planet may be saved at the supermarket, when consumers use the power of their wallet to purchase eco-friendly pet products whenever possible. Dog owners, for example, can find many different varieties of shampoo that use natural or sustainably-sourced ingredients.
Kitty litter can be an environmental concern as it often does not biodegrade. Thankfully there are litter products available made from biodegradable or recycled materials. If there isn’t a pet store in your area focused on sustainability, shop on-line.
Low-quality pet toys need to be thrown out and replaced often, which makes them a waste of money and also bad for the environment. Instead of sending more plastic to the landfill, consider and then demand eco-conscious alternatives for cats and dogs. There are now more choices than ever for quality pet toys that are durable, eco-friendly and lots of fun. You’ll also feel better knowing your pet is chewing for hours on a natural product and not on one made of chemicals.
Take it One Step At-a-Time
Its easy to get overwhelmed so approach a transition toward more eco-conscious choices one step and one product at a time. Once you’ve covered these simple things, you can take it one step further. Thank you for considering and supporting a healthy planet by striving to be an environmentally-responsible pet owner.