While humans and our insatiable consumerism are the primary drivers of climate change, pets have a surprisingly large impact of their own.
With around one billion pet dogs and cats in the world eating billions of pounds of meat and GMO grains a year, and producing half a billion pounds of waste every day, Rover and Mittens have a massive effect on the health and sustainability of our environment.
So what can be done to make our pets more planet-friendly? Here are 8 ways to reduce the ecological “pawprint” of your cats and dogs.
1. Purchase Pet Products Wisely
Just as you try to avoid toxic plastics, flame retardants and noxious household chemicals for the sake of your own health, you should also consider your pet’s health when purchasing toys, bedding and grooming products.
Read labels! Buy organic bedding, and choose toys, collars and leashes made from natural materials or plastics that do not contain vinyl, phthalates or BPA. (A hemp collar and leash is an especially nice choice.)
Use eco-friendly shampoos and conditioners that are free from toxic chemicals and manufactured with natural ingredients. (Here are some brands to check out.)
And if your pet has an accident indoors, use eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning products to clean up after them. (Here are a few choices.)
2. Keep It Simple
The needs of dogs and cats are very simple: Food, water, exercise, medical care, a collar with tags, and lots of love. But the $60 billion dollar pet industry would have you believe you need an ever-increasing amount of consumer goods for your furry friend.
Although it might be fun, purchasing lots of fancy toys, decorative collars, fancy little outfits and other accessories adds significantly to your pets’ environmental footprint.
All that stuff is not only totally unnecessary for your pet to be happy and healthy, but all those products use up a tremendous amount of oil, water, trees, chemicals and energy in their manufacture, packaging and transportation. That’s a lot of resources and money for toys and clothing your pet is unlikely to appreciate at all.
If you’ve ever seen a dog chase a stick or ball, or a cat with a ball of yarn or crumpled paper, you know that it doesn’t take something with a $10 price tag to entertain your pet for hours. (Though don’t play fetch with tennis balls; they contain lead.)