With more than 78 million dogs, 86 million cats and 212 million “other” pets in the US, it’s no surprise that our animal companions create their own carbon "paw print." Or rather, we create it for them – through the animal waste we don’t pick up, through the plastic toys that fester in landfills, through chemically harsh pet shampoos and – STOP! It’s a lot to take in, isn’t it?
But minimizing our pets’ damage to the environment doesn’t have to be so daunting. There are a few simple steps you can take today that aren’t only better for the Earth but can make a difference in the health and happiness of your pet, too.
1. Practice your three Rs The green mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle” applies to pet products, too, with the end goal of preventing more waste from ending up in landfills. Start by minimizing what you need and reusing what you can. Think (and google) “homemade pet toys.”
When buying new items, look for some of these terms: recycled material, recyclable, 100% biodegradable, compostable, post-industrial recycled plastic.
Or, shop for brands that do the work for you. Sold at select Whole Foods Markets, Planet Dog’s Recycle “bones” and balls are made from Orbee-Tuff material, which means they last longer than your typical plastic toys, creating less waste and less of a burden on your wallet in the long run.
Best of all, these non-toxic, recyclable toys are made in the US and are easy to clean, with 2% of every purchase going toward non-profit canine service programs nationwide.
2. Be all about “organic” Pesticides aren’t limited to people products – they’re found in our pets’ products, toys and food, too. Choosing items with “organic” on the label can greatly reduce the amount of toxic and persistent pesticides that go into the environment (as well as on to your and your pet’s bodies).
Our stores offer a variety of organic pet products, including organic cotton collars and Good Buddy’s handmade, dye-free plush toys. I also love Simply Fido organic plush toys, which come in a variety of cute critters. For an easy, eco-friendly bathing solution, the non-profit environmental organization Zero Waste America recommends adding 1 teaspoon of oat flour (look for organic), which you can find in our stores, to your pet’s bath water.
3. Scoop that poop Let’s talk poop. Leaving your dog’s waste to break down into the earth may seem “natural,” but it’s not smart. Rainwater can take your dog’s poop into streams and rivers, posing a threat to both public health and water quality. Composting your pet’s waste at home can also pose health risks. Bottom line:
It’s always better to scoop that poop.
If you can get past the “ick” factor, flushing your dog (not cat!) poop ensures bacteria will get killed at the wastewater treatment plant. Cat poop, however, contains a parasite that may survive the treatment process and contaminate waterways. Speaking of cats, there are some interesting, and effective, alternatives to traditional clay litter.
World’s Best Cat Litter is made from whole-kernel corn and controls odors naturally. It's available at select Whole Foods Market stores. There's also a litter made of all-natural recycled pine pellets that's similar. Since our product selection varies from store to store, I suggest checking with your local Whole Foods Market to see if they have the products you’re interested in or if they can offer other recommendations.
How do you show love for both your pets and the planet?