Pets Go Green, Again Easy Earth-friendly tips for animal lovers
By Dr. Marty Becker
and Gina Spadafori
Does a renewed interest in “green” products mean the economy’s improving? We’re not sure, but we’re still delighted to see retailers and pet owners again trying to reduce the “carbon pawprint” of pets.
Recently, the national chain Petco put on an event at its more than 1,000 stores to promote products that are more eco-friendly — an event in which the PetConnection team was involved. But, of course, it’s possible to do a lot with what you have by making a few good decisions.
Here are a few tips:
• Go for green products. When looking to buy pet-care items, look for items made from recycled materials (such as toys made from recycled water bottles or cat litter made from recycled newspaper) or from renewable materials (such as collars made from hemp or litter made from wheat, corn or even green tea leaves). Also consider switching to a pet food that’s made locally from sustainable or organic ingredients, a move that cuts down on the “food miles” (fuel used to move merchandise) and the waste issued from concentrated animal feeding operations.
• Meat protein is a must for carnivores — especially cats — but if you’d like a pet who can go completely green when it comes to food, adopt a bunny. They thrive on veggies, and will love your kitchen trimmings. (Not to mention, rabbit waste is great for supercharging the compost pile!)
• A few of the pet-product companies that have made an effort to “go green” include West Paw, Planet Dog, Castor and Pollux, and Earthbath — and the number is growing every day.
• Pay attention to packaging. Pet food, pet toys, pet supplies, pet cleaning and grooming aids, pet medications — pretty much all of these have one serious environmental problem: packaging. Look for alternatives, such as bulk buying that reduces throwaway containers, and use products that come in recycled and recyclable packaging.
• Toss with caution. Always dispose of drugs, pesticides, shampoos, chemicals and the containers they come in safely. Flea-control products, as well as many pet shampoos and dips, need to be disposed of carefully as well, according to federal, state and local guidelines. (As for those flea-and-tick products, don’t overdo it, and follow directions carefully.)
• Handle the “do” responsibly. Biodegradable poop bags are a must, otherwise the poop you pick up will still be in the landfill decades from now. As for scooping the yard, consider a “pet septic system” like the widely available Doggie Dooley or the new Doggie Doo Drain ($45; DoggieDooDrain.com). The latter fits onto your sewer clean-out and sends the mess to the treatment plant. Keeping cats from roaming keeps their waste in a litter box, where you can dispose of it properly. Usually, that will mean bagging and putting it in the trash. (Check with your local municipal authority for guidance.)
• Take a hike, or a bike. If you’ve gotten in the habit of driving to the dog park, consider that six legs in motion — yours and your dog’s — is good for you both. Put your walking shoes on, snap the leash to your dog’s collar and get your exercise in your own neighborhood. Walking (or jogging) is great, and if you want to add two wheels to the mix, look for accessories that allow you to safely take your dog biking with you. Be careful though: Exercise in the cool morning only, and don’t let your dog overheat.
• Don’t litter — and do adopt. Remember to consider adoption when it comes to choosing a pet. Great pets can be found at any shelter, and don’t forget to check out rescue groups as well — Petfinder.org can be a great resource for looking. And do make sure your own pet isn’t accidentally “littering.” Fences, leashes and neutering can all prevent “oops” litters.
These tips should give you a start on a greener life for you and your pet.