In honor of Earth Day, Sunday April 22, 2012, help your pet tread more lightly on Mother Earth with a few easy changes to decrease their carbon pawprint!
1. Scooping poop! Use biodegradable bags—such as those made from cornhusks which will decompose quickly—to collect your dog’s waste. Avoid clumping clay litter for cats to minimize unnecessary clay mining and chemical exposure. Choose an environmentally friendly alternative such as litter made from plant sources or recycled newspaper.
2. Consider composting pet waste. If you choose to compost, choose a commercially available product or bury an old garbage bin (far away from any food-growing area) to use as a pet waste composter.
3. Feed a natural or organic pet food for optimal health and well-being. These foods provide nutrients which are minimally processed and preserved with natural substances. They do not contain artificial colors or other harmful additives. Organic pet foods also avoid the use of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically engineered ingredients.
4. Protect wildlife. Keep dogs on leash and cats indoors to help protect the native wildlife.
5. Limit the amount of “fish food” you give your pet. Pets represent a threat to fish stocks worldwide as the pet food industry uses approximately 10% of the global supply of forage fish. Too much of certain fish may also pose an increased risk of mercury exposure for your pet.
6. Try recycled toys. There are many toys and beds made from recycled materials or sustainable fibers. You can even make toys out of old socks and rope and beds out of old blankets and towels. This helps avoid taxing the environment and can help protect your dog from dangerous chemicals in plastic chew toys. Also try recycled ID tags on for size!
7. Water conservation. Instead of leaving the spigot running during bath time, try a handheld attachment that turns on and off to decrease the amount of water used during bath time. Use warm (not hot) water to save energy. Select natural shampoos and grooming products that are phosphate-free and free from chemicals so the dirty bath water is as environmentally friendly as possible.
8. Don’t turn up the heat…use a sweater. To save energy during the winter months, use pet clothing to keep your pet toasty instead of turning up the thermostat. Stay cool. Instead of turning the air-conditioner on full blast in the hot summer months, consider chilled pet bed inserts to keep your pet comfortable. Ice cubes are a nice cooling “treat” for dogs.
9. Neuter your pet. Pet overpopulation is a real problem—shelters are over-run and homeless pets are everywhere taxing environmental resources. Only one in four dogs finds a permanent loving home. When it comes time for your next pet, support adoption as part of a green lifestyle.