Can your dog save the planet? With your help, we think the answer is yes!
These days, many of us are focused on lessening our carbon footprints and for good reason: According to a 2018 study from the United Nations, the planet’s in even bigger trouble than anyone previously realized. So it’s time to get your dog involved!
But when it comes to making eco-friendly decisions for your pup, there’s so much to consider. Where to even start?
We’ve got you covered with three easy things to focus on!
Your dog needs a lot of stuff. Some of it is super basic like his food and water dishes and his collar. Other stuff is specific to your pet and to your lifestyle, like a particular bed he loves or a specific harness you use on backpacking trips. Chances are, though, your dog has too much stuff. How many toys languish, un-played-with at the bottom of a big basket? How many leashes hang on the hook near your door?
Probably the single biggest impact that any of us can have on the environment starts with buying less stuff. We consume too much and stockpile things we don’t really need. So, how can your dog’s stuff save the planet? It begins with clearing out the clutter. Find new homes for all that extra pet stuff you simply don’t use or don’t need. Shelters love gently-used toys and leashes, for instance, and your friend with the new puppy would probably love the bed your dog won’t sleep in or the collars he’s outgrown.
Then, once you’ve decluttered, before buying anything else, use up what you have. Try repairing an item before replacing it, and once you really do need to buy something new, start shopping secondhand. An incredible amount of pet supplies are available on craigslist.org and the NextDoor app, and you can find all sorts of items at your local thrift shop--just wash and sanitize anything you pick up before giving it to your dog. Quick tip for extra good karma: Snag any free crates you find on those apps and donate them to your local shelter!
Finally, if you can’t find an item second-hand, or if it’s a consumable like food or treats, shop from responsible companies. And always recycle the packaging, of course!
Dealing with poop, pee, and puke is just a part of loving dogs. While it’s not the most glamorous aspect, the way you manage your dog’s waste can have a tremendous impact on the planet.
Picture this: You’re out walking your dog and he does his business. You pull out that plastic grocery bag, scoop it, and tie it off tight. Then, you toss it in the curbside can where it’s taken to the landfill. That airtight plastic bag can take up to 1000 years to decompose, preserving your dog’s waste for generations to come.
What you can do instead depends on your living situation. One earth-friendly option is to compost your dog’s poop if you have space for it--the compost can’t be near or used on edible plants--and the inclination to either dig a hole or purchase a digester. It’s not an option for many, though, and the EPA actually recommends flushing your dog’s poop. The trick with that is transporting it home, dumping the bag into the toilet, then disposing the bag. A third, easier option is to purchase biodegradable poop bags that will decompose in the landfill. It’s not quite as gentle on the planet as composting or flushing, but it makes the most sense with most people’s lifestyles.
Always, always pick up, though, because left-behind poop contaminates groundwater.
Dogs, like humans, are omnivores. They need a wide range of nutrients to thrive. Unfortunately, our food production system poisons the planet faster than any other industry.
We want our dogs to live long, healthy lives, so how do we feed them in a sustainable way?
With your vet’s help, choose a dog food that sources sustainable proteins and pick treats made with sustainable practices.
When purchasing food, aim for the biggest bag, box, or can to cut down on the amount of packaging--and, again--always recycle!
Ultimately, you can lessen your dog’s carbon “pawprint” with just a few simple swaps. You’ll even save money while you’re at it. But if you want to make an even bigger impact, get outside! Take your pup for more walks. Enjoy the fresh air together. Healthier, happier people and pups make the world a healthier, happier place.