For a while now, “green” has been the new “black” for style and environmentally-conscious people. We have gone from fast food convenience to embracing a slow-food, locavore lifestyle, buying organic bath and home products, and even ensuring our clothes and home building materials come from renewable resources.
And cats and dogs aren’t being left out in the environmental cold either. It’s now as easy as popping into your local pet supply store to find a range of organic foods, locally baked treats, biodegradable poop bags, organic cotton toys, and eco-friendly grooming supplies (among whom earthbath was one of the first: we’ve been going strong for 15 years and counting, after all!).
If you want to ensure that your pets are living an environmentally-friendly life, (we’re all responsible, earth-loving pet parents, right?), here are five easy ways to ensure your dogs are leaving a minimal carbon paw-print (plus one can’t-miss tip for the cats)!
1. Choose eco-friendly dog accessories.
There are tons of green dog supplies to choose from that are just as cute, comfy, and functional as the “non-green” versions. Some of our favorites include dog beds made from recycled plastic bottles, leashes made from repurposed climbing ropes, and organic cotton toys. And when your pet is tired of his toys, swap with your pet-parent friends rather than throwing them out. (Or if they are just too ratty to give to a friend, try donating your old dog toys, beds, blankets, towels, and accessories to your local animal shelter).
2. Use organic grooming and cleaning products.
Use safe and natural cleaning products that are biodegradable for the planet and safe for your children, your pets, and you. Of course, earthbath pet products use natural plant-based cleansers and never contain parabens, harsh soaps, phosphates, artificial dyes/fragrances, or toxins, so you don’t have to worry about what might be left behind on your pet or the environment. For environmentally-friendly ways to clean your house, use natural disinfectants, antibacterials, and cleansing abrasives like baking soda, vinegar, and lemons or brands.
3. Be a biodegradable, green pooper-scooper.
It’s a simple idea that most people never think of: use only flushable and biodegradable poop bags and after your dog has done his business, bag and carry it back to your place for flushing. Instead of carrying it to the nearest trash can, just carry it a little further to a toilet. Why? Because though you might think of pet waste as inherently biodegradable, it is actually one of the leading sources of ground water contamination, and also becomes a huge pollutant sitting inside non-biodegradable plastic bags in the landfills.
If you’re a hardcore environmentalist, you could try composting dog poop (as long as you don’t use it on your vegetable garden). Here is one place we’ve found step-by-step instructions.
Whatever you do, always clean up after your dog. Letting your dog poo in the street and assuming it will get washed away in the next rainstorm is also a bad idea. Fecal matter in waterways, after it gets washed down storm drains, is a surefire guarantee for illness in both people and animals.
4. Use natural flea-repellants.
There are many options for fighting fleas naturally including a number of essential oils that repel fleas and other pests naturally. There are also ways to deter fleas from your yard and home through use of cedar chips and diatomaceous earth. If you have winters where the temperatures fall below freezing, talk to your vet about using the treatments only during the warmer flea season.
5. Buy locally-made, natural and organic pet food (or cook for your pets).
Most commercial dog foods are the reason behind skin problems like hot spots, allergies, itchy areas, and poor coat health among other growing health problems in pets like diabetes, thyroid disease, and obesity. Just as important as the health of the human members of your family is the health of your animal family members. As much as possible, feed organic veggies and antibiotic- and hormone-free meats that are free of corn, wheat, and grains. There are many natural, organic and holistic pet foods that use proteins that are raised in sustainable, humane ways, use natural vitamins, and do not contain hormones. Try also to buy locally made pet foods. By cutting out the long-distance transportation and packaging of commercial food, you’re cutting out the additional carbon emissions waste necessary to process and transport the food.
Make sure your kitty is “green” too.
Most commercial “clumping” cat litter is made of clay and you might be surprised to learn that it’s obtained via extremely environmentally-damaging methods much like coal mining (strip mining), and then piles up in landfills without breaking down. However, there are many eco- (and cat-) friendly litters available made from wheat, corn, and recycled newspaper that are just as good at combating odor, are flushable, and some even clump (naturally). It’s also not a good idea to let cats do their business outside, especially if there is a danger they could go in your or your neighbor’s vegetable patch: their waste can pollute the water and soil with toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that can make pregnant women and the immunocompromised sick.
Simply taking small but measurable steps to greening up your and your pets’ lives will benefit your health, your dog’s and cat’s health and, ultimately the planet’s!