10 Ways to Be a More Eco-Friendly Pet Parent

With Earth Day coming up soon on April 22, now is the perfect time to check in and reevaluate ways that you can become a more eco-friendly pet parent. If you’re not sure where to get started, not to worry — we’ve got you covered. To help you out, we’ve rounded up 10 ideas to help you become more sustainable, from repairing old gear to choosing healthy food:

Adopt, don’t buy.

Being green starts with the way that you get your pet. Adopting a pet instead of buying one from a breeder keeps demand down (not to mention it will probably cost you less!). Adopting a pet also frees up that space for another one and may save them from being euthanized if it is a kill shelter. If you have a specific breed that you are trying to adopt, websites like Petfinder and breed rescue organizations can help you find specific pets.

Spay or neuter them.

Once your new pet is mature enough, you should get them spayed or neutered to prevent accidental pregnancies. This keeps the pet population from growing and means that they will put less strain on resources in the future. There are already millions of animals in shelters waiting for a home, and it’s not very eco-friendly to add to that number!

Choose healthy food and treats.

As a general rule, choosing organic pet food is more eco-friendly than other options because organic farms tend to have lower emissions and less waste. Choose food with specific, whole ingredients and minimal processed ingredients. Reducing your dog’s meat consumption can also help the environment. Talk to your vet about whether a vegetarian or reduced meat diet might be right for your dog. You should apply the same logic to shopping for natural dog treats, cat snacks, and other goodies for your pet.

Manage their poop.

Sadly, dog and cat poop is not very eco-friendly. Many dog poop bags are not biodegradable, and even if they are, they often have to be disposed of in very specific ways in order to be recycled. Make sure to read the instructions carefully. Most clay-based kitty litter contains sodium bentonite, a material that is strip mined and thus has a huge negative impact on the environment. It’s better to switch to a litter with bio-based materials such as recycled paper or pine pellets. And you can always use their poop to fertilize non-food plants to help them grow healthy and strong.

Get more durable items.

Trashing old used items and buying new ones is a big contributor to waste. If you want to be eco-friendly, it’s much better to invest a little more money in a more durable pet product that will last for years instead of months. Do your research before purchasing and try to buy from companies that have a reputation for building quality products that will last for a long time.

Donate old gear to others.

Sometimes, your pet will outgrow (or grow bored of) gear and toys before their useful life is over. In that case, see if your local shelter or rescue will take the items as a donation. You will probably need to sanitize or wash them before dropping them off. You can also arrange to give them to a friend or even have a pet gear swap party so that you all can keep the gear out of a landfill.

Repair or recycle whenever possible.

Many of us instinctually throw away an item and buy a new one when it becomes even a little bit damaged. While it’s tempting to always have perfect gear, it’s more eco-friendly to repair and reuse items whenever possible. If the item truly is damaged beyond use, then look up recycling ordinances in your area to see if you can recycle all or part of it so it doesn’t go into a landfill.

Pay attention to packaging.

Plastic single-use packages are one of the biggest contributors to landfills. When you are shopping for your pet, pay attention to packaging and choose options that use less packaging. If you are shopping online vs. in person, see if the company has a commitment to sustainability and has any information on their website about whether their packaging is recyclable or made from sustainable materials.

Choose green cleaning and grooming products.

Did you know that you can clean a lot of your house with white vinegar and baking soda? It’s true! Switching over to all-natural cleaning products and reducing the number of products that you keep on hand will help you become more sustainable. Not only will you reduce the plastic bottles you go through, you will also decrease your pet’s exposure to chemicals. When it comes to pet shampoo and other grooming products, you can make your own or choose a sustainable, organic brand with recyclable packaging.

Shop locally or regionally.

Shopping from brands that are manufactured close to your home will reduce the distance the item has to travel to get to you, meaning less emissions, and it will probably result in less packaging as well. Do some research to find pet brands that are based near your home. You might be surprised at how many there are! Keep in mind that there are certain items, such as collars and pet beds, that you can probably find or commission from local artists on Etsy or other avenues if you can’t find pet brands that are based in your region.

Follow these tips to become a more eco-friendly pet parent. If this list feels overwhelming to you, start with just one or two things that feel doable and build up to the whole list over time. Before you know it, you’ll be buying natural collagen chews for your dog and washing your cat with homemade shampoo.

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