Pets are adored by people all over the world. Closer to home, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that between 70 and 80 million dogs and 74 and 96 million cats are owned in the United States.
With pets so prevalent, pet owners can benefit the planet, themselves and their pets by taking stock of their approach to pet care to see if there are ways they can make that approach more eco-friendly. Here are a few ideas to get eco-conscious pet owners started.
- Donate as you upgrade. When purchasing new items for your pets, think before you dispose of the older items, which may be useful to nearby shelters. Contact the local shelter to see if it needs any items. Otherwise, ask friends or family if they can make use of collars, bowls, beds, scratching posts, and other pet gear you intend to discard.
- Adopt from a shelter. Animal overpopulation is a global problem. When a person adopts an animal from an animal shelter, he or she is combating overpopulation while giving an animal a second chance. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that between 6 and 8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year and 2.7 million of them are ultimately euthanized. Adoption saves lives, reduces the burden on shelters’ resources and helps decrease the demand for puppy or kitten breeding.
- Buy biodegradable litter and pet waste bags. When picking up after a pet, use eco-friendly waste bags. Biodegradable bags will decompose after roughly one month. Some cat litters are made from all-natural and biodegradable materials, which can reduce the impact on landfills and the environment.
- Spay or neuter your pet. One of the simplest ways to end the cycle of pet overpopulation is to spay or neuter young pets before they reproduce. This helps reduce the strain on the local ecosystem and can cut down on waste as well.
- Look for eco-friendly pet care products. Just as you would read the ingredient labels for products designed for home or personal use, so, too, should you consider what goes into the products you buy for your pets. From shampoos to cleaning items to the foods pets eat, choose items that are geared toward lowering the environmental impact of your pets.
- Make your own treats. Purchase pet cookbooks or visit pet recipe websites so you can prepare homemade dog and cat treats. Doing so gives you a measure of control over the ingredients in your pets’ foods while also reducing the need for eco-unfriendly packaging.
- Take more walks. Walk your pet more often, leaving the car at home when doing so. This provides you and your pet a great opportunity to exercise, gives you more quality time with your pet and reduces your fuel consumption while also cutting down on emissions.
Pets are special members of the family and can be included in eco-friendly practices.