Note: this is a guest post by Kathryn Hawkins.
Locally-grown veggies and free-range chicken may be de rigeur on your own dinner plate each day – but not so for poor Fido, who has to settle for the mystery-meat sludge in his Alpo can (which looks suspiciously like what your cafeteria lunch lady doled out back in the day).
While it may not be too cheap or practical to set up your pet with his own platter of goodies direct from the farmers’ market, there are plenty of ways to make your companion’s life as environmentally sound as your own. Whether you spend your days with a Jack Russell terrier, a Siamese cat, or even a cockatiel, it’s easy to reduce your pet’s carbon footprint (or pawprint, as the case may be).
Here are ten ideas for greening your pets:
Get a recycled pet. Avoid approaching an animal breeder, and by all means, steer clear of pet shops, which have kept the sickening puppy mill trade in business for decades. If you’re going to adopt a pet, the most ethical and eco-friendly way is to pick up an animal from your local shelter. Visit Petfinder to find your new best friend.
Spay or neuter your pet. Conservative estimates have found that at least 8 million cats and dogs enter animal shelters each year; half of those are put to sleep. Don’t contribute to the tragic statistic – as cute as he may be, there’s no need to turn your pug into a stud.
To avoid another nasty surprise like last year’s poisoned dog food debacle, stick with organic, all-natural pet food. My Shih Tzus love their Dr. Harvey’s Miracle Food so much that they’ve literally gone on hunger strikes when we’ve run out. The company also makes food for cats, birds, and horses.
Picking up dog poo is never pleasant, but try not to make an even bigger mess of the earth in the process. If you have plastic bags lying around the house, use them for clean-up duties before purchasing anything new. If not, try a degradable product like Mutt Mitts (which comes in pink, if you’re in the mood to color coordinate).
When it comes to cats, stay away from clay litter. More than 2 million tons of the stuff ends up in landfills every year. Instead, choose an eco-friendly biodegradable alternative, such as the natural wheat-made Swheat Scoop.
As you may have noticed, pets make messes. Instead of using toxic chemical sprays, try all-natural cleaning solutions like Nature’s Miracle.
Typical grooming products are also laden with toxic cleaning agents. Keep things clean with all-natural shampoos and cleansers, like the organic sprays, shampoos, and gift sets from Spot Organics.
Toy-wise, avoid the sketchy “Made in China” stuff, which may contain harmful toxins or lead. Pick up a few fun recycled goodies, like Planet Dog’s RecycleBone, made from the company’s leftover waste material, or West Paw Design’s Eco-Friendly Turtle, a squeaky toy with a unique recycled soda bottle shell. Or, just don’t buy toys: An old sock is always a winner around my house.