From the 8 billion pounds of kitty litter heading to landfills each year to the effects of a pet’s carnivorous diet, pet owners should be aware of the substantial carbon footprint left by pets.
“When you consider the carbon ‘pawprint’ of your pet, it also makes you think about some of the ways our own actions are affecting the environment,” says Tracie Hotchner, author and host of NPR’s Gracie-Award-winning show Cat Chat on Sirius Radio. “I encourage pet parents to take this opportunity to make changes in their behaviors and purchases to help take all of us into a new era of environmental responsibility.”
Pet product retailer Petco teamed up with Hotchner and Greenwala.com, a green lifestyle social networking and media company, to compile a list of simple ways to reduce the environmental impact of pets:
1. Use biodegradable and sustainable poop scoopers.
Who wants to populate the landfill will plastic bags full of dog doo? And are you aware that cat litter made from clay is mined much like coal? Use biodegradable poop bags when walking your dog and an eco-friendly cat litter in the kitty box.
2. Think adoption first.
According to American Humane, a survey of 1,000 animal shelters performed by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy showed that 56 percent of dogs and 71 percent of cats that enter animal shelters are euthanized. Add a pet to your household by adopting from a local shelter or rescue organization. Petco holds monthly in-store national adoption events where local shelters match people with pets in need.
3. Spay or neuter your pet.
More than 70,000 puppies and kittens are born every day, and our country is already overpopulated with homeless and abandoned animals. This has only gotten worse with the poor economy. Help decrease the number of homeless animals in the United States by spaying or neutering your animals. Not only does it help control animal over-population and homelessness, but it also has been demonstrated to provide long-term health and behavioral benefits for pets.
4. Use natural and organic pet food.
Your pets should eat the same quality foods you do. Natural, organic and holistic pet foods use proteins that are raised in sustainable, humane ways and do not contain hormones. They are preserved with natural vitamins. In addition, these healthy foods create less waste for you to clean up at the dog park. Look for the labels and see that they are full of vitamins and nutrients and are free of pesticides and bioengineering.
5. Use organic grooming and cleaning products.
Make cleaning-product choices that are as safe for the planet as they are for you and your pets. Many pet shampoos and cleaning supplies use plant-based cleansers and natural bio-cultures to remove pet stains and odors. These products, including natural flea removers, are non-toxic for pets and people.
6. Use organic and sustainable pet accessories.
Get collars, leashes and PET bottles made from recycled materials or sustainable fibers without herbicides or pesticides. While you are at it, find your pet organic-cotton and sustainably produced bedding to give it a sound sleep.
7. Avoid pet toys with harmful toxins.
When looking for pet toys, read the label and avoid toys containing lead. Lead in products is equally as harmful to pets as it is to humans. The best thing to do is to get creative and create toys from recycled items that you have laying around the house.
8. Be active and live a healthy lifestyle.
Get your pet out and keep it active. Take you dog to the backyard or to the local dog park. If you allow your cat run around outside, make sure there is a cat enclosure to keep it safe.
9. Pay attention to eco-friendly manufacturing
Choosing natural and organic-based products is important, but it’s just as important to support brands that use sustainable business practices when packaging, sourcing ingredients and recycling. Most companies proudly share their eco-conscious efforts on their websites.
10. Be committed to your pet.
Owning a pet is a big responsibility. Yes, pets are fun for all ages, but they need proper care. If you are committed to your pet, it will be easier for you to also implement the other tips above.