This week we asked our Facebook fans, “Do you take any earth-friendly steps to help reduce your pet’s carbon pawprint?” Today, in honor of Earth Day, we’re sharing some of our favorite answers:
1. Prevent pet overpopulation
“Spay or neuter!” says Leslie H., and we agree. All pets have some environmental impact, but spaying and neutering keeps the pet population in check (and unwanted litters out of shelters).
2. Buy in bulk
Maria R. buys the biggest bags of pet food available. “That saves on gas back and forth to the store,” she says. It also cuts down on packaging waste (and is easier on the wallet).
3. Scoop poop
Unscooped dog poop can pollute water and spread disease (read our article 10 Reasons to Scoop Your Dog’s Poop). Facebook fan Mar Mar C. goes even further, composting her pet’s waste. (Pet poop should be kept separate from the compost you put on your vegetable garden. Check out Cityfarmer.org’s guide to making a dog waste composter.)
4. Buy reusable supplies
Kathryn H. housetrains her dogs with machine-washable puppy pads. One reusable pad, like this one at PETCO, can keep hundreds of disposable pads out of landfills — and save you money in the long run.
5. Recycle what you can’t reuse
Mary Kay G. makes sure to recycle dogfood cans — but many other types of food have recyclable packaging, so be sure to check. Kat H. buys organic dog food that comes in recyclable bags. “Also it is locally made, so less pollution,” she points out.
6. Use earth-friendly pooper scoopers
“I use biodegradable poop bags and, as a pet sitter, that’s a lot of bags,” says Kathy R. PETCO has a wide selection of biodegradable pooper scoopers. Reusing old paper bags works too.
7. Make your own pet toys
“My birds play with junk mail and cardboard boxes,” says Janice R. Repurposing household items into toys can be fun for you and your pet, and cuts down on household waste. Need ideas? Check out the links at the end of this post.
8. Use eco-friendlier cat litter
“I use [corn-based] World’s Best Cat Litter, which you can flush instead of having to use plastic bags to dispose of the waste,” says Susan P. Many corn- and pine-based cat litters are flushable, and as Treehugger.com points out in How to Green Your Pet, the clay in traditional litter is strip-mined. Worried your cat won’t like a new litter? Set up a “litter cafeteria” so he can choose his favorite.
9. Harness cuddle power!
“We keep the heat really low, but warm up with dogs,” says Catie K. “[It's] the true meaning of a ‘three-dog night.’ ” Seconds Micah E.: “In the winter, I can turn the thermostat down because my pets love to snuggle.”
10. Adopt a homeless pet
This brings us back to our No. 1 point: Pets, like humans, inevitably impact the environment. But buying from a pet store or breeder just encourages more breeding, while adopting a homeless pet doesn’t add to the pet population. Pet adoption is the original green option!
Tell us: Do you do anything to make yourself or your pets more eco-friendly?
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