Did you know that dogs and cats have the same carbon impact as 13.6 million cars thanks to their meat-heavy diets? Millions of Americans own pets for the emotional benefits, yet they often don’t realize the environmental impact of their beloved animals. Here are 25 ways you can reduce your pet’s carbon pawprint:
1. Properly dispose of your pet’s waste. Always pick it up to prevent spreading diseases to waterways. You can also bring your dog’s waste inside and flush it (flushable doggie bags make it easier!).
2. Buy eco-friendly cat litter. Some are compostable and/or made from old newspapers, wood chips, corn, or wheat. Avoid litter made with sodium bentonite, which is obtained through harmful strip mining.
3. Buy pet cleaning products that are natural, organic, chemical-free, and/or biodegradable. They are better for both your pet and the planet!
4. Use dog waste bags that are biodegradable, plant-based, or water-soluble (flushable), rather than plastic grocery or newspaper bags.
5. Use a bamboo brush rather than a plastic brush. Bamboo is much more sustainable than plastic.
6. Use eco-friendly alternatives to training pads, such as biodegradable or washable pads, indoor grass pads, or litter boxes for dogs.
7. Buy food bowls made from clay, porcelain, stainless steel, bamboo, or even sugarcane (and without plastic or BPA).
8. Choose smaller pets. The bigger the pet, the bigger the carbon pawprint.
9. Consider choosing non-traditional pets, such as rabbits, chickens, and goats. Their plant-heavy diets are more eco-friendly, and you can even reduce your own footprint by using the milk and eggs from the goats and chickens.
10. Adopt don’t shop. With 6.5 million animals entering shelters each year in the U.S., adopting a pet helps save all the resources used for breeding and sheltering.
11. Spay and neuter your pets to prevent unintended animals (which use more resources).
12. Regularly wash your pet and their bedding with natural soap and hot water, rather than harmful chemicals.
13. Use old blankets as bedding, or search for bedding made from organic cotton, hemp, or fiber from recycled plastic.
14. Make your own DIY toys, such as a rope toy made from old t-shirts. Check out our Pinterest for more DIY ideas.
15. Buy toys that are non-toxic, recyclable, and/or made from reclaimed materials rather than plastic.
16. Thrift your pet’s toys rather than buying new toys.
17. Choose higher-quality toys that you won’t have to throw out after a few months of tugging, chewing, and washing.
18. Feed your pet less meat. Meat production takes a huge toll on the environment. Search for pet food with higher quantities of plant-based ingredients (but make sure to consult with your veterinarian about your pet’s dietary needs).
19. Buy pet food made from chicken meat rather than red meat for a more sustainable meat option.
20. Buy dog food made with insects, which is much more sustainable than ordinary pet food. You may find it off-putting, but your pup won’t!
21. Choose food made with by-products. You may think it is better to give your pet “human-grade” food, but food made with by-products is just as nutritious for pets and utilizes the leftovers from human food production, which significantly cuts down food waste.
22. Make DIY food and treats for your pet. Follow simple recipes or even give your pet basic fruits and veggies as treats (make sure to consult with your vet first).
23. Don’t overfeed your pet. Overfeeding uses more resources and leads to more waste (as well as pet obesity!). Ask your vet how much food your pet really needs.
24. Repurpose your empty pet food containers. You can reuse large food bags as trash bags, recycle empty cans at a scrap yard, or use cans and boxes as craft supplies.
25. Limit your pampering. Resist the urge to buy those adorable clothes, accessories, and costumes that will eventually end up in a landfill.
While all of these are great ways to reduce you and your pet’s impact on the environment, one of the best things you can do is make the switch to clean energy. You and your pet deserve a healthy, clean planet!