By Steffan Kasula
From synthetic toys to plastic poop bags, being a pet owner can sometimes be a not-so-eco-friendly endeavor. You may not have even noticed how many plastic bags you were using until eight states banned them to reduce waste.
With Earth Day right around the corner on April 22, now is one of the best times to consider how you can reduce waste with the help of your furry friend. In fact, there are six simple ways you can make caring for your pet more sustainable.
- Choose pet toys with natural materials: Synthetic pet toys can not only expose your pet to chemicals and dyes, but they also commonly end up in landfills. Consider opting for eco-friendly, dye-free toys made from organic, recycled, or upcycled materials. Recycling and upcycling old pet toys also helps to reduce waste. You can also make your own toys from home to save money and materials. Cats, for instance, love hair ties and balls of aluminum foil.
- Make your own pet treats: Many pet treats contain a lot of unhealthy sugar and fat that isn’t good for your pet’s health. What’s more, once those treats are gone, the package typically gets thrown away and sent to landfills. To reduce waste and keep your pet healthy, consider making your own treats at home. This way you know exactly what is going into your pet’s belly. Just be sure to do your research on which ingredients are best for your pet.
- Choose a sustainable pet food: As we mentioned above, many pet treat packages end up in the landfill because they’re not able to be recycled or because they end up in the trash. To decrease the environmental impact of pet food bags, consider choosing a pet food brand for your pet that’s dedicated to recycling.
- Spay or neuter your pet: Your pet may already be spayed or neutered, which is great. But if they’re not, it may be time to schedule an appointment. Spaying and neutering is one of the easiest ways to reduce the overpopulation of cats and dogs. Kittens or puppies that are born because their parents weren’t spayed or neutered may end up in animal shelters. Stray cats regularly disrupt the local ecosystem, too, including populations of birds and rabbits.
- Adopt a pet from a local shelter: To prevent the overpopulation of pets in the country, it’s a good idea to adopt a pet from a local animal shelter. Adopting not only helps overburdened shelters reduce the number of animals they need to take care of and feed but it also saves pets from euthanization.
- Use biodegradable poop bags: If you’re regularly using plastic bags to pick up your dog’s poop or to change your cat’s litter, you’re contributing to the build-up of plastic in U.S. landfills. To reduce the amount of plastic waste, consider making the switch to biodegradable bags that break down over time.
By being environmentally-conscious of your actions and choices as a pet owner, you can reduce waste and make your furry friend’s life that much healthier without making any major changes to your lifestyle.
Steffan Kasula is the website manager for Back on Track. Back on Track creates therapeutic products that help horses, dogs, and people achieve a more active and comfortable life.