Today we celebrate Earth Day, 24 hours out of an entire year dedicated to that beautiful planet we call home. We all know by now that our decisions play a key role on the environment’s health. If you changed your light bulbs, switched to organic food, came home with a compost heap, commuted, and rode your bike to work, rest assured there’s more you can do. Just like humans have a carbon footprint, animals have a carbon paw print. Read on to learn about the many ways you can help nature and your yapping best friend by making wiser, if not healthier choices:
- You can significantly reduce your companion’s carbon paw print by buying eco-friendly products made from recycled or sustainable materials. Nowadays, getting green toys, beds, leashes, collars, and bowls is as easy as surfing the web (or Amazon).
- Reuse and recycle! A paper bag or an old piece of rope can provide hours of fun. Recycle old clothes, like socks, and fill them with catnip. Cats are just as likely to love used blankets and pillows as much as new ones. Using old sheets can also reduce stress when your pooch starts shedding mind-boggling amounts of hair.
- Use organic, plant based litter made of natural products such as corn and cedar shavings.
- When taking Fido out for a walk, clean up after him! You can help prevent nasty bacteria from getting into the water system through storm drains.
- If you clean up after your dog but use plastic bags, rethink your options. You’re already helping the Earth by picking up your dog’s waste, but plastic bags take a loooong time to degrade in landfills. Want to help Mother Nature even more? Buy biodegradable, compostable or flushable bags!
- Getting a self-cleaning litter box sounds magical, but using your good ol’ hands saves up energy and brings home a friendlier electric bill.
- If Fido has an accident, forget about expensive products with harsh chemicals. Products like club soda, vinegar, and baking soda go a long way without the fumes or unnecessary spending.
- When you buy your furry friend food, take a look at the packaging. Buying in bulk reduces the use of fossil fuels by making you take fewer trips and it reduces the amount of packaging you dispose of every time you run out of goodies (one big bag is always better than 10 smaller ones). Remember to recycle packaging (such as cans and food bags)!
- Don’t buy heavily packaged and processed treats, give Fido a carrot instead!
- Looking for local brands of healthy dog or cat food cuts down on the amount of fuel used in transportation and delivery.
- Go vegan! Not only is it a healthier, but it’ll reduce your companion’s eco-footprint (dogs and cats alike). Vegan diets produce less greenhouse gas emissions than meat-based diets. According to vegansociety.com, the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire transport sector (which produces 13.5%), including aviation. The same website indicates that plant-based diets require 1/3 of the land and water needed to produce a typical Western diet.
Before changing Fido’s diet, make sure you consult your veterinarian and do some research. There are plenty of websites online (Dogs Can EAT Vegan Too) that’ll answer a great number of questions!
- If you really want to make a dent on Earth’s health and your pet’s diet, make your own pet food. There are countless websites with recipes that are both nutrient rich and good for the hungry pup. Make sure you research foods that could be potentially toxic and dangerous to your cat or dog.
- If everything you cook burns or turns out unsavory (you’re not the only one, so cheer up!), seek natural food options. Some brands contain hormones, antibiotics, and animal-by-products. Packages that don’t mention “FDA Certified Food Grade” aren’t human friendly- would you give your barking/meowing best friend something that’s harmful to you?
- While searching for a vet, a dog park, or a store, think in terms of mileage. Make your gas money last and the air more breathable by walking Fido in your neighborhood.
- Pamper your pup (or kitty cat) with products that don’t contain icky phosphates, sulfates, and other toxic chemicals. Make sure your groomer deviates from these nature-unfriendly products as well!
- Ceramic and stainless steel bowls are a smarter choice than plastic food containers. Plastic can last a lifetime in a landfill and isn’t very durable.
- When ticks and fleas become a menace, do some research before buying pest control products; the ingredients used are often toxic. If the label mentions chlorpyrifos, dichlorvos, or phosmet, scratch it off the shopping list and search for products that use natural ingredients.
- You’ve heard it before: Adopt, don’t buy/Spay & neuter. Controlling pet population is always green. Sterilization can also help Fifi and Fido live healthier lives by reducing the risk to several types of cancer. You can also reduce the number of homeless animals by adopting a furry pal from the shelter and microchipping.
- When you order online, research the company. A company that goes the extra mile by recycling packaging materials is worth every penny.
- Google it! The Internet offers an immense variety of resources, including green online stores and helpful advice from the pros. How do you think we came across all these ideas?
- If you can think of any other way to celebrate Mother Earth, feel free to leave a comment. You’d be surprised at the countless tips out there!
Calculate your household’s carbon footprint HERE.
Here’s a list of online stores that sell awesome eco-friendly products: