Recycling and reusing pet supplies, paying attention to the products you use and the companies you buy from, and choosing eco-friendly products can go a long way toward reducing your dog’s carbon pawprint and cut down on waste that ends up in our landfills.
“The environment is important to every living being, and owners have a duty to do our part to ensure we are keeping the world’s plants and animals safe from the potential harm of our pets,” says Mike Bober, president and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.
Worried it might be too complicated? It’s not! Just follow these seven easy steps. Who knows? You may be practicing some of them already.
1. Choose eco-friendly companies
“Purchase your pet’s necessities like food, beds and toys from companies who truly work to reduce their products’ environmental footprint,” says Spencer Williams, owner and CEO of West Paw Design.
“Do a little bit of research online or by asking store associates about the companies’ environmental values and manufacturing practices, and then help support those companies who are committed to doing their part.”
West Paw Design is exceptionally eco-conscious. The company has a closed-loop recycling program, inviting customers to send back their old toys so they can be recycled and made into new toys.
And in its manufacturing facility in Bozeman, Montana, West Paw repurposes used banana boxes from local grocery stores for storage rather than using plastic bins. West Paw Design offers durable toys made from recyclable materials and comfy beds stuffed with filling made from recycled plastic bottles.
Other eco-friendly companies include:
- Chews Happiness, which offers collars and leashes made from cruelty-free yak down, a renewable resource.
- Olive Green Dog, which offers a bamboo brush as a beautiful alternative to plastic.
When buying pet supplies, look for products that are made from sustainable materials like hemp and bamboo, and those that are minimally packaged or packaged using environmentally friendly materials (for instance, cardboard rather than plastic).
2. Recycle your pet food containers
Recycling is a great way to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Did you know that you can recycle most of your dog’s pet food containers?
Food cans, whether steel or aluminum, can usually be tossed right into your curbside recycling bin. Rinse the can out first to keep your bin clean and to discourage scavenging by birds or other wildlife.
Paper pet food bags, foil pouches and plastic containers are more of a gray area since many are made up of multiple materials. Check the recycling code printed on the package or contact your local recycling program to ask what they accept.
3. Reduce plastic products
The production and disposal of plastic is hard on the environment, so limit the number of plastic products you use for your dog. Try stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead of plastic, and toys made from renewable or recycled materials.
Instead of single-use plastic water bottles, consider a reusable container, which will last years and can even be recycled when you’re done with it.
4. Donate old pet gear
Don’t toss out gently used collars, leashes, beds, clothing, bowls or toys. Give them a second life by donating them to a local animal shelter or rescue organization.
If you really want to make someone’s day, sew up any holes in pet beds or sweaters before donating them. The rescue pups will appreciate your dog’s old things, and you will feel good knowing they didn’t end up in a landfill.
5. Clean up with eco-friendly bags
Cleaning up after your dog is a necessary chore, but it doesn’t have to be so bad for the environment. Many eco-friendly poop bags are available that are just as convenient as traditional plastic bags. Biodegradable poop bags are meant for composting.
According to Jennifer Pope, vice president of marketing for BioBag Americas, Inc., based in Dunedin, Florida, composting is the best way to dispose of your dog’s poop in terms of impact on the environment.
“There are now a number of communities and parks successfully composting their dog waste,” she says. “If there is a method like composting out there, we all need to take strides in supporting these methods and advocating them. We can’t wait until laws are passed. We need to be stewards of our earth, our home.”
If you do end up tossing biodegradable poop bags in the trash, they are still more environmentally friendly than petroleum- based plastic bags because they’re made from plant materials. Another green method of waste disposal is flushing the poop, either in special flushable bags or simply picking it up with a scoop and flushing it down.
Poop bags made from natural plant materials like BioBags and Define Planet’s Veggie Based Poopbags are compostable.
Flushable poop bags like Flush Puppies are made from a special material that becomes very soft in water.
6. Eat your greens and cut down on processed food
Cutting down on processed foods by growing and consuming fresh produce is a delicious way to do your part for the planet. Plant a small garden in your yard to grow fruit and vegetable treats for you and your dog.
7. Shop eco friendly
Some states like California, as well as cities like Portland and Honolulu, have banned single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and certain retail outlets. Some pet stores are still exempt from these laws and continue to load purchases into single-use bags at checkout.
Start using your own reusable bags when shopping at the pet store and any other stores where plastic bags are used.
Thumbnail: Photography by ©Sarah McGraw Photography.
Jackie Brown is a freelance writer from Southern California who specializes in the pet industry. Reach her at jackiebrownwriter.wordpress.com.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you!