Eco-Friendly Pet-Keeping Tips
Our pets can take up the biggest place in our hearts, but that's not the only place they're making a sizable impact. From the resources they consume to the waste they produce, our furry friends can often take a huge toll on the environment. "They can have a big impact, especially when you consider that there are over 175 million dogs and cats in the U.S.," says Katherine Miller, an animal behaviorist for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Of course, that's not to say we shouldn't keep them. Instead, consider ways—both big and small—that you and your pet can go a little greener together.
For starters, when it comes to choosing a pet, opt to adopt, if possible. This not only helps shelters save on resources, but can also save an animal's life. When you're out shopping for organic and locally-sourced food products for you and your family, don't forget about your pets! Look for eco-friendly brands, or try DIY-ing a recipe yourself. A healthy and sustainable diet for your pet can also help create a better environment for everyone.
In the same spirit, think DIY instead of buy when it comes to keeping them happy and entertained. Skip spending money on plastic toys that'll likely end up chewed to shreds in minutes. Instead, see what you already have lying around the house that can easily be turned into a playtime solution. Have old shirts that shrunk in the wash? Sew them into cute toys. Or upcycle carpet remnants into a clever feline-friendly door scratcher.
However you decided to go eco-friendly with your pet, we've got the best tips and ideas to inspire you.
Adopting a pet can not only help save an animal's life, but can also help reduce the resources used in shelters. If you find yourself particularly fond of a specific dog or cat breed, check out Adopt-a-Pet.com or breed-rescue organizations to narrow your search.
Help Them Eat Greener
While some of the best pet foods are meat-based, meat production can have a costly impact on resources. Try opting for minimally processed foods with organic, locally-sourced ingredients. You can also try making your own fresh pet food and eliminate packaging altogether. Just be sure to feed your pet the right balance of nutrients (consult your vet for advice!).
DIY Your Own Toys
Chances are, as much as you love buying your pets new playthings, they'll love chewing them up in no time. Why not save money and make your own? You'll avoid giving your pets toys that contain harmful bisphenol-A (BPA) or phthalates, plus it's a great way to use up fabric scraps or other odds-and-ends around the house.
Manage Your Pet's Waste
Pet poop is a problem. Not only can fecal bacteria sicken other animals and contaminate ponds and lakes, according to Melinda Miller, hospital director of Smith Ridge Veterinary Center in South Salem, New York, but the trash from waste bags and kitty litter can quickly add up in landfills. For a green option, look for biodegradable litter made from recycled materials, or choose biodegradable bags for cleaning up after Fido.
Keep It Clean
Between regular groomings, help keep your feline's fur and paws free from dirt, odors, and stains with Martha's all-natural, multi-purpose cat wipes. They're paraben- and sulfate-free, hypoallergenic, and biodegradable, perfect for keeping them—and your home—healthy and happy.
Martha Stewart All-Purpose Natural Wipes for Cats, $9.99 for 50-pk, amazon.com
Pick an Eco-Friendly Collar
Made in America from soft cotton and sustainable hemp (which helps resist mold and mildew!), these collars fit comfortably on your pet and feel good for Mother Nature, too. Choose from two different sizes and three fun colors.
Brandless Dog Collar, $9, brandless.com
Practice Green Grooming
Time for a bath? Before sudsing up your pet, look for gentle, all-natural shampoos and conditioners that leave out harsh chemicals, which can pollute waterways. You can also try making your own pet shampoo with just three simple ingredients.
Reduce Toxins at Home
Donate to a Local Shelter
Don't discard gently used pet gear—check with your nearest shelter to find out if it can help give your castoffs a second life.