What can we do to make our pets more "eco-friendly"? Here are 7 ways to reduce the environmental "pawprint" of our dogs and cats.
1. Choose pet food thoughtfully
Most pets food contains GMO corn and soy which contributes to carcinogenic glyphosate (Roundup) in the environment. Try to keep it simple. Don't buy food made from "prime cuts." Choose the ones made from good-grade meat byproducts. Animals don't benefit from eating the meat humans eat. In fact, steaks and chicken breasts that we love so much, are less nutritious than organ meats.
Avoid canned pet food. Industrial chemicals like bisphenol make their way into our food supply chain via can lining. Recent studies show that BPA in the bloodstream of dogs nearly triple from easting canned dogs food. Here are some findings from the Ecology Center:
- Almost all, 95%, cat food cans tested positive to have a PVC-based coating.
- 81% of most dog food cans have a BPA-based coating. .
- All of the pet food cans contain PVC or BPA-based coating or its combinations. .
Cheryl S. Rosenfeld, DVM, Ph.D., associate professor at the Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, said that "when dogs consumed canned dog food containing BPA for two weeks, it was associated with metabolic and gut microbiome alterations. Thus, these recent findings from the Ecology Center raise further concern that potentially all commercial brands of dog and cat food may contain BPA that can lead to potential health effects in our companion animals.”
When you choose food for your pets, read the list of ingredients. Or, better, purchase certified organic foods. Unfortunately, 70% of processed foods for pets and humans alike are made with GMO products; for example, soy, corn, beets, canola, rice, potatoes, tomatoes, peas. GMOs lead to serious health issues like kidney, liver, immune system damage, cancer, cognitive issues, autism, skin allergies.
Keep in mind that the grains are not exactly good for any pet. Watch out for mycotoxins, highly toxic byproducts of mold and fungus. Global surveys from 2004 to 2013 discovered that mycotoxins are present in 76% of grains and byproducts for animal consumption!
2. Use biodegradable poop bags
By 2019, we all understand that single-use plastic bags have severe environmental consequences. 5 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide. Scientists suggest it could serve as a geological indicator of the Anthropocene era. Today, about 300 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced. That's equal to the weight of the entire human population! Our oceans and streams are polluted with plastic.
It feels pretty good to clean up after your pooch, using a green poop bag and tossing it up in the trash bin. The entire thing completely breaks down and returns to nature within a year. But it's not only about a poop bag but also about how you throw it away.
If you throw poop bags in the regular trash, it ends up in a landfill. You can't put them in the garden compost, because of animal waste contains harmful pathogens. Instead, make a dog-waste-only compost to fertilize your decorative plants. Or, flush it (if you use water-soluble waste bags.) If you live in a rural area, you can bury it (at least five inches underground.) Or, drive it to the composting facility that accepts pet waste.
3. Use non-toxic shampoos and conditioners
Pets have an amazing sense of smell. If you wash them with a shampoo that contains toxic chemicals, don't be surprised your pet will find the first muddy spot outdoors to get those nasty chemicals off their skin. The problem is, the shampoo gets absorbed, licked off and inevitably harms your pet's internal organs. The rest is rinsed down the drain and wind up in waterways.
When choosing your pet shampoo, search for "certified organic" label, not "natural shampoo." Certified grooming products go through a much higher level of scrutiny. It verified that there are no GMO ingredients, pesticides, herbicides, artificial colors or fragrances.
4. Don't waste money on pet toys
Plastic toys are laden with chemicals, and it's impossible to recycle. Use common household items for your pets to play. There are "green" pet toys, but why spend extra? You can always find things in your household to keep your animals entertained for hours. Cats love balls of yarn. Dogs love their sticks! You might even have the healthy looking stick collection in your backyard!
Do you have old socks with missing pairs? Make a dog toy! Recycling household items and making toys for your pets is the best way to preserve rather than consume.
5. Don't drive to the dog park
You can walk and bike with your dogs, instead of spewing greenhouse gases into the air.
6. Bring old things to the nearby pets shelter
Old blankets may seem like junk to you, but for pets in shelters, they are beds and comfort. Don't trash your old sheets, linens, and towels. Donate!
7. If you have a lawn, think twice
If you have a lawn and own pets, say good-bye to fertilizers and pesticides. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 12 of the most popular pesticides in the United States have ingredients known to cause cancer. Do you really want your small friends staying in regular contact with those sorts of chemicals?
Fertilizers are not healthy for the environment. High amounts of nitrogen run off into the waterways, causing an excess of algae and a loss of oxygen in the water. It endangers fish and other water wildlife.
According to the Federation of Public Interest Research Groups, 29 popular fertilizers tested positive for 22 toxic heavy metals, including nickel, silver, selenium, thallium, and vanadium. Those are the metals that are directly linked directly to human health hazards.
An organic lawn is still possible with most pets without the use of fertilizers, but pooches and grass are not exactly the best match. You will always have spots that look burned and dead. What can you do?
Install artificial grass! There is an impressive amount of synthetic turf products options nowadays, and some of them are specifically formulated for dogs.
Greening Planet Earth with Pets: The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, we know that it's our responsibility as humankind to stop polluting our ocean and reduce consumption of natural resources.
At the end of the day, we know that it's our responsibility as humankind to stop polluting our ocean and reduce consumption of natural resources. We are also responsible for the health of our pets as for our own. For most pet owners, pets are part of the family. It takes a bit more legwork and efforts to start feeding our pets thoughtfully, choose organic shampoos and reuse ready-for-trash items to make pet toys and items. It takes dedication to incorporate green habits into a lifestyle. But those small steps make us good stewards with what we are given and pass it on to the next generation to keep our planet alive.