Several studies recently confirmed that owning a pet has a major impact on your environmental footprint. In fact, the claim to Robert and Brenda Vale’s book Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, a dog has the same effect on the environment as a standard SUV. Although pets such as dogs and cats will have a greenhouse effect regardless of who owns them, a responsible pet owner can effectively reduce and manage how much detriment their beloved best friend inflicts on the world around them through these five steps:
1. Use eco-friendly items, including leashes, beds, toys, and grooming products.
Cotton, wood chip, alpaca, and hemp-based fabrics and roping are ideal for pet toys, bedding, leashes, and other woven items. The natural fibers are biodegradable, utilize more ready resources of clean growth and manufacture, and are even more washable. An example of a green grooming product is shampoo or flea bite treatment comprised of non-toxic ingredients such as chamomile, witch hazel, and other plant-based extracts.
2. Buy pet food from eco-friendly sources.
Go for organic pet food that is produced specifically for the green marketplace without the use of high emissions equipment or the release of toxins in the environment. Such a plant will often be referred to as a green operation and will often boast FDA-approved human-grade food production. Also, seek hormone and antibiotic-free meat-based foods. Feeding your pet food such as fish heads and other non-choice parts (just as they would eat in the wild) will also reduce the use of manufactured products and promote a cleaner environment while presenting Fido or Fluffy with the pleasure of satisfying some of their predatory instincts.
3. Choose your pet wisely.
The smaller your pet, the smaller its impact on the environment. Smaller breeds are a greener choice versus a Great Dane or Labrador, just as a fish or gerbil is even better than a dog or cat. If you are not going for the “cuddle factor” and primarily seek an interesting companion at home, go for a hen, rabbit, or pig. With a hen, you can keep your refrigerator stocked with eggs. A rabbit provides consumable meat as do pigs, and they eat your table scraps.
4. Feces should be properly disposed of, not left where they fall.
Picking up and disposing of pet feces properly prevents pollution of air, rivers, streams, and other water sources. Some pets’ feces can be composted along with food waste for garden fertilization. Use eco-friendly bags for the pickup and disposal of waste. There are also cat toilet seats on the market that provide a means of training your cat to use the toilet instead of the highly environmentally impactful litter.
5. Buy carbon offsets.
Carbon offsets are bought much like commodities on a financial market. The funds generated through the sale of carbon offsets are then put to use in environmental research, reduction of environmental impact, and cleaning of the environment. If your pet’s effect on the environment is tugging at your conscience, purchase carbon offsets to aid the prevention of greening in varied industries or areas of focus.
When selecting a household pet, the objective for the owner is generally that of companionship or purpose. Pets not only enhance our social lives and perform work (such as a seeing eye dog), but promote general well-being and happiness. By becoming a smarter, more conscientious pet owner, anyone can enjoy ownership of their furry friend without negatively impacting the world around them.