Pets are life, don’t you agree? I mean, they bring so much brightness in our lives and we feel that the world is much better with them. No matter if you’re a cat person, dog person, or fish person, what have you, we all can agree that pets complete our lives.
But did you know that owning pets can possibly harm the environment? There are a lot of ways that owning pets can increase carbon emissions from handling their toilet business to getting the fur babies/friends itself.
What’s the solution then? Well, you could try doing a sustainable pet ownership. It basically means that you’re being environmentally friendly and responsible to both your pets’ and mother earth’s welfare. So here’s how to care for your pet while going green at the same time.
1. Get the right food for your pet
We want to give the best food for our pets because it will benefit them in the long run. There are a lot of choices of great pet food out there. Some manufacturers even produce ‘human-grade’ pet food because pet owners because people want their pets to get the most nutrition.
Unfortunately, this means that there were a lot of wastage involved. ‘Human-grade’ means that we give our pets the same cuts that we eat and enjoy. Meat production itself is already harmful, and these kind of pet food doubles the wastage amount of the production.
What you can do is, give your pets pet food which is made of ‘unwanted’ cuts–the ones that humans won’t enjoy. You don’t have to worry about nutrition, because those animal cuts went through a process which derived nutritious, healthy fats, and protein/mineral rich powder.
That pet food production is way more sustainable than giving your pets ‘human-grade’ food. If you want even more sustainable way of feeding your pets, consider to give them raw diet. They’re as nutritious, doesn’t require processing, and they’re easier to get.
Conventional pet food underwent energy-wasting process and has to be shipped and sent, leaving carbon footprint. Meanwhile, homemade treats and food (particularly raw diet) are much more environment friendly. Learn how to make raw diet for your pets here and here.
If your pets are dogs, then you might also want to give them vegan diet. You may be thinking that it’s illogical to feed dogs plant-based diet, but it’s actually okay. Dogs biologically developed teeth that enable them to chew veggies. Click here to learn making vegan dog food.
Do NOT give vegan diet to your cats because they’re carnivorous in nature. Cats need taurine for optimum health and survival, and if they’re fed meat-free diet, they can become severely ill. So remember to always give meat-based food for your cats or other carnivorous pets.
2. Dispose of your pet’s waste properly
Going to the toilet is a part of your pets’ biology, just like humans. Cats can be trained to do their business in kitty litter while dogs can be trained to do it on newspaper or outside the house. They all end up in plastic bags which are definitely not degradable.
4% of U.S. landfill is dog poop. If you put your dog’s excrement inside a plastic bag for three times a day, you will leave around 1000 plastic bags in a year. The bags would just sit there for who knows how long until they’re taken care of. The same thing also happens to cats. We put those dirty kitty litters into a plastic bags and throw it away.
So what can we do? If bags to contain those poops are absolutely necessary, buy biodegradable bags. They’re not the best choice because those bags can sometimes still need to decompose in another 10 to 1000 years, it’s still a better option than plastic bags. Besides, there are maybe eco manufacturers out there who make uber degradable bags.
Another thing that you can do is flush down your pets’ things to the toilet. You can put them in water-soluble poop bags first if you wish, but you have to make sure your house and your city’s sewage system are capable to do the job.
If you’re a green thumb and not afraid of getting your hands a little bit dirty, then you can compost the poop. It’s particularly useful for ornamental plants and flowers. Don’t use it on your edible garden, though. Your potential food will be contaminated. Learn how to do it here.
As for cat owners, try changing your kitty litter. Bentonite clay, the main material for conventional kitty litter, is energy consuming and not at all eco-friendly. The clay is obtained by digging up the ground until it becomes a giant quarry hole.
As an alternative, use kitty litter which main materials are wood chips, sawdust, chicken crumbles, or corn kernels. You can also make your own kitty litter using recycled materials such as old newspapers, wood shavings, and nutshells. Here is an example of alternative kitty litter.
3. Adopt don’t shop, and make sure to spay or neuter your pets.
There are a lot more cats and dogs than human population. Now, over 2 million pets are euthanized each year because they didn’t find their forever home, and population keeps growing.
Which is why, adopting a pet from shelters and fosters is way more sustainable than buying them. When you buy them, then business thinks that people want more of them, resulting in endless births and labors. The energy waste to take care of those extra lives increases rapidly.
Once you got your pets, it’s important to spay and neuter them. Why? When your pets have babies, you’ll be needing more food, more poop bags, and ultimately, more carbon emissions. If you send their babies to shelters, remember the euthanasia solution to combating the overpopulation.
Also, pets from fosters and shelters are already vaccinated and de-sexed. It saves you a lot more money than buying them. When you buy pets, you still have to vaccinate and fix them on your own.
Moreover, if you have an outdoor cat and your cat have kittens, you’re contributing to the overpopulation. Even worse, the extinction of certain species. Cats have caused the extinction of 33 bird species to date because of their nature to hunt.
If the population is decreasing, then the chances of other animals to survive is bigger. Did you know that at one point, Australian government decided to mass kill hundreds of cats because they’ve made some smaller species critically endangered? A pity, but it had to be done.
Therefore, to prevent the same case from happening, it’s better to spay and neuter your cats, be it indoor or outdoor. Indoor cats who are in heat will find a way to escape your house and mate. Besides, if you de-sex them, you’ll be reducing the number of pets in shelters.
If you intend to keep your cats outdoors, then you can give them collars with bells, so their preys will know that something is hunting them and they can escape in time. Keep in mind that other animals are important for Earth too, if you let your cats slowly eliminate them, it’s going to change the nature.
So that was some things that you can do to have a sustainable pet ownership. Some of you may be asking, “What if I live somewhere else, I’m not financially stable, and I can’t do those things?” Well, you can always try to live a sustainable, Eco-friendly life.
For example, you can bike, walk, and take public transportation because green kitty litter is expensive in your area. You can cut down your own food waste if feeding raw diet is impossible. You can also give your pets some simple toys. In cat’s case, you simply need to give them cardboard, bags, used paper. As for dogs, simply take them for a run or a walk.
Other than this, there are a lot more ways for you to have pets while being environmentally friendly at the same time. This article is just the tip of the iceberg. I hope this article will give you an inspiration to start living a green life with your beloved pets!