Lessening Your Pet’s Impact on the Environment
There are many things you can do in your everyday life to make a positive impact on the environment. But, when you look down at your four-legged friend, you probably don’t often think about the impact they could be having, too.
While pets aren’t littering with plastic or using fossil fuels to get from point A to point B, they can have a negative impact on the environment just by living normal lives. Whether it’s littering parks and public places with poop or consuming as much food as the population of France (literally), dogs and cats have a greater impact on the planet than you might think.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to reduce their carbon pawprint, and ways you can help them be “eco-friendly” without disrupting the things they’re already used to. With a few changes to your pet’s routine — and some adjustments to your own — you both can live a greener life.
Lead a Sustainable Lifestyle
Whether you already have a pet or you’re thinking about getting one, living a sustainable life of your own before they arrive is a great way to promote your lifestyle to your four-legged friend. While you might not get them to recycle plastic bottles anytime soon, the way you live will be the way your pet learns to live.
Start in puppyhood. Most pet owners are quick to “puppy proof” their homes before the arrival of a new cuddly canine. There’s no reason you can’t make your puppy-proofing efforts more environmentally friendly. Try things like:
- Buying sustainable food
- Purchasing supplies from companies with a commitment to the environment
- Swapping out your chemical cleaning products for natural ones
- Using environmentally-friendly (and pet-friendly) pest control products
From the food you use to the toys you buy your buddy, simple swaps can make a big difference in how sustainable your dog’s life is from the start. Even if you’ve had your canine companion for years, you can still make changes to their daily routine by switching out their food or switching up the companies you support.
Adjust Your Pet’s Habits
Whether you have a puppy, a kitten or a full-grown animal, it’s never too late to “teach an old dog new tricks” — or a cat, for that matter.
While animals can be creatures of habit, you can change their routine safely, and in healthy ways, by switching things up gradually.
One of the easiest ways to give back to the planet is to take more walks — what dog isn’t going to love that? Instead of driving or taking public transportation, walk wherever you can with your furry friend. It’s a great form of exercise for both of you, and you’ll reduce your carbon footprint (and pawprint) in the process.
Of course, with great walks comes great responsibility. Dogs usually poop twice a day. Walking is a great way to keep their digestive systems healthy and “regular,” but every pet owner knows the importance of picking up after their dog’s mess, especially in a public place or in someone’s yard. Not only is it common courtesy, but leaving your pet’s mess behind could be doing damage to the planet.
One study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that 90% of fecal coliform in stormwater was mainly from dogs. That’s not exactly pleasant to think about, but it should make you realize how important it is to properly dispose of their waste. Use biodegradable bags to pick up your dog or cat’s poop and throw it away in a trash can, rather than leaving it in the park or yard.
Consider Carbon Offsetting
Carbon offsetting is a practice done by both major corporations and individuals alike. It’s the process of calculating your carbon footprint and offsetting it through environmentally-friendly actions. By taking your pet’s carbon pawprint into consideration, you can double up on your sustainability efforts and give something back to the planet you both love.
Gardening is a great way to reduce your dependency on chain stores and supplies that burn a lot of fossil fuels. You can grow your own food and herbs, compost, and enjoy being out in nature with your pet at your side. Make sure, however, you use pet-safe plants and keep your furry friend away from compost. It contains bacteria good for decomposition, but bad for your pet’s stomach. Other ways to offset your pet’s carbon pawprint include:
- Cutting back on your meat consumption
- Limiting small trips in the car
- Maintaining your vehicle
- Working from home
Having a pet is a wonderful way to enrich your life, improve your well-being, and keep you active. But, if the environment is important to you, make sure your four-legged companion isn’t doing more damage than necessary. If you already do what you can to live a sustainable lifestyle, there’s no reason you can’t help your pet to do the same.