The state of the environment is a hot button issue, and current concerns about global warming, water scarcity and environmental toxins have forced Americans to take a hard look at their lifestyle and identify ways to save the planet, and save money, too.
And going green is not just for people anymore. Many pet lovers are looking for eco-friendly dog, cat and other pet products. If you are concerned about your pet’s carbon paw print, consider the following ways that your furry friend can go green.
Organic and natural pet foods
Just as the organic and natural foods movement has been gaining momentum, feeding pets an organic and/or more natural diet has become a popular choice among pet owners. Before you decide to switch your pet from a conventional to an organic or natural diet, however, it is important to understand what these terms mean.
Natural pet foods are minimally processed. They tend to retain most of their nutrients, and have few added fillers. Natural pet foods are unregulated, though, and do not have to adhere to strict standards.
Conversely, organic pet foods have to meet standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and cannot include artificial or genetically engineered ingredients, preservatives, ingredients treated with pesticides, or ingredients from animals treated with hormones or antibiotics.
Despite the natural and organic designations, buying more wholesome, “green” food for your pet can still be a confusing process. Here are some additional tips for assessing the quality of a particular dog or cat food:
- Read the label. Avoid pet foods that contain byproducts, chemicals and preservatives if possible.
- Look for pet foods that list premium ingredients first (e.g., chicken, salmon or beef).
- Look for certification from the Association of Animal Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), or for a reference to “human-grade ingredients.”
A number of small businesses cater to the organic pet foods market, and many have websites where you can order their products online. You might also want to consider cooking food for your pet yourself. There are a number of websites and blogs devoted to information about and recipes for homemade pet food.
However, before you decide to “go green” with your pet’s diet, consult with a veterinarian to ensure that your pet will be getting the complete nutrition he or she needs.
DIY pet toys made from recycled materials
Playing with your pet is not only good for his or her health, but can be good for the Earth, too. Many companies are beginning to incorporate recycled and sustainable materials, such as recycled plastics, rubber and cotton, into pet toys.
You can also get creative and make your own recycled dog, cat or other pet toys. Here are a few examples of economical and green pet toys:
- Rope toy made out of braided strips of old fabric
- Treat puzzle made from PVC pipe
- Water bottle put inside an old sock
- Toy tied to the end of a stick (a DIY version of the flirt pole)
- Empty boxes for animals to play inside, jump in and out of, or hop over
Environment-friendly pet grooming and cleaning products
Using nontoxic and earth-friendly grooming and cleaning products for your pets is another way to be green and improve your pet’s health. Many conventional products contain toxic and potentially harmful chemicals (e.g., parabens, phthalates and petroleum) that can have unwanted side effects and may cause diseases, including cancer. When shopping for your pet, consider purchasing products that contain natural ingredients, or are certified organic.
Cat litter and dog waste bags that are gentle on the Earth
Cleaning up after your pet has gotten greener in recent years with the introduction of all-natural and biodegradable materials for cat litter and dog waste bags. Green cat litters do not contain clay or sodium bentonite, which are harmful ingredients that can potentially sicken or poison your furry friend. Instead, these green products are made from recycled wood, wheat, corn or newspaper, and some can even be flushed down the toilet.
Man’s best friend has eco-friendly options as well. There are many companies that make dog poop bags from materials like recycled paper, plants and other materials that are biodegradable and compostable. Using these bags helps reduce the amount of plastic in landfills.
Environment-friendly choices for your pets
Making nature-friendly choices for yourself and your pet is possible. With a little research and an open mind, you will find that going green is doable. Think outside the litter box and make changes you know you can incorporate into your life. Here’s to a greener life for you and your pet!