If you’re interested in learning more about how you can lower your pet’s carbon paw print, check out my new book, Greening Your Pet Care. You can even download a copy for your Kindle, and save the paper. It’s full of easy everyday steps you can take to become an eco-friendly pet owner and curb that pet pollution.
Adopt don’t shop
Animals in pet stores often originate at large-scale animal or puppy mills, which have horrible environmental practices, not to mention a disgusting disregard for animal welfare.
Adopting is the greenest pet decision of them all. It not only saves that pet’s life, it also frees up space for another homeless animal to be saved.
It’s not all old pets or mutts in shelters: the U.S. Humane Society says 25 per cent of shelter pets are purebreds that end up homeless by no fault of their own. Breed-specific rescues are another great source to find purebreds.
Tonnes of plastic chew toys end up in the landfill each year after dogs rip them apart. Opt for a tougher and longer-lasting chew that’s made from sustainable materials.
Beco toys (Bones Pet Stores) and Kongs are made from natural rubber, can be stuffed with peanut butter and treats and are an eco-friendly solution for the heartiest chewers.
Unlike rawhides that are sprayed with chemicals like formaldehyde, opt for antlers naturally-shed from elk and deer. Free of preservatives and additives, these are zero-waste and also give your pup’s teeth a great cleaning as they grind it down.
Plastic feeding dishes can contain BPA, bisphenol A and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a chemical classified as a human carcinogen and a danger to animal health by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Opt for something long-lasting that won’t break or chip, like stainless steel, or bowls made from eco-friendly materials.
These Beco bowls (Bones Pet Store, Yaletown) are made from natural bamboo resin that is BPA-free. They’re dishwasher-safe, but also 100 per cent biodegradable and don’t emit toxic fumes as they break down.
Even if you shop at a big-box or department store, pay attention to where the product is manufactured and what’s in it. There are loads of great North American companies that are producing non-toxic merchandise and foods with wholesome ingredients. See how many plastic items you can get rid of in your pet’s life and replace them with durable and sustainable alternatives.
Vote with your dollar: Ask the store manager if they can stock more local pet products. If more consumers request products that haven’t travelled a long distance the store will respond by stocking them. Make your consumer dollar count!
Dog poop left on the ground doesn’t just wash away: it leaches into the ground, contaminating local waterways, drinking water sources and marine life.
Conventional plastic grocery bags take up to a thousand years to break down in a landfill. Opt for a “greener” option, like biodegradable or compostable pet waste bags, which degrade exponentially faster. Look for bags that are naturally scented and created from non-GMO crops like tapioca and corn.
Many brands, like Earth Rated, are sold at pet and big box stores. Look for bag canisters made of #5 plastic that can be recycled.
The chemicals and synthetic colours and fragrances added to most dog shampoos and grooming products can contain pesticides and suspected carcinogens. These can cause major skin irritation and itchiness for your pup, and pollute local waterways when they’re washed down the drain.
Look for organic, biodegradable products free of parabens whenever possible. Avoid the “foul four’: DEA (diethanolamine), SLS (sodium laureth), BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), and synthetic colours and fragrances
East Vancouver’s Black Sheep Organics makes a lovely line of organic grooming products that work hard without putting your pet’s health—and the environment—at risk.
Producing meat for pet food consumes vast amounts of land, water and other resources. Of all animal proteins, livestock production is the worst offender, belching 18 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
Source pet foods made from proteins with a lower carbon footprint, such as chicken, turkey or wild fish. Try avoiding meat-based treats altogether, opting instead for wheat, fruit and veggie-based snacks.
Open Farm pet food, Canada’s first pet food made from certified humane meats, uses sustainably-caught Ocean Wise fish and locally grown, non-GMO produce.
By choosing to buy pet products made locally instead of imported from another country, you are reducing the carbon footprint of transportation while also stimulating our local economy and boosting B.C. businesses. The production and shipping processes also require a great deal of packaging, much of it non-recyclable.
Vancouver’s Handsome Mountain creates gorgeous pet leashes, collars and beds, with many created from upcycled fabrics and eco-friendly fill.
Greening your pet care
From buying organic produce to recycling and taking transit, we all take steps to minimize our own carbon footprint. But have you ever thought of the impact your pet has on the environment?
Between their meaty diets, plastic products and the poop they leave behind, all companion animals have something in common: They pollute.
Thankfully there are easy ways to cut down your pet’s “carbon paw print,” for the sake of their health—and the planet's.