I'm trying to figure out easy ways our little puppy can be greener, just like the rest of our family. I've switched him to organic foods, and am looking for solutions in other parts of his life. What can I do to get Mitchell in on our green lifestyle?
- Layla S.
We love that Mitchell is part of your eco-friendly family plans and are happy to help you get him started! Here are 5 tips on how to green your pet — and your wallet, too:
1. Do-it-Yourself Pet Toys
Instead of buying new products, take a look around the house for items you can repurpose into your pet's new favorite toy. From a washcloth that becomes a puppy teething aide, to socks and tennis balls that transform into a fetching dream, there's plenty to repurpose. Check out Live Green for more info on how to reuse household products to make dog toys.
2. Buy It Used
People tend to have a fascination with the newest and shiniest thing, but luckily your pet's a bit less concerned with all that — he's happy with a collar, leash, or doghouse whether you got it from a pet store or from a thrift store or tag sale. Your pet won't mind a hand me down, we promise.
3. Consider the Ingredients & Materials
If you can't make heads or tails of most of the ingredients in the food your feeding your pawed pals, you may want to find organic alternatives; look out for the USDA Organic food label on the packaging. Going organic means their foods won't have harmful pesticides that could be dangerous for them and the planet, so there's no science project lurking inside that bag of food. Another concern is the makeup of the products you allow around your pet. From beds to chew toys, make sure you're considering products made with recycled, recyclable, non-toxic, and biodegradable materials. Check the packaging for those claims, but read carefully: Check whether the whole object, or just part, is recycled/recyclable, and read the toy's packaging for other potential benefits, but note that "biodegradable" assumes the object is disposed of in the expected way, and that the FTC does not regulate the scientific definition of the terms "non-toxic", and "biodegradable" .
4. Handle Poop Properly
Ensuring you've taken care of your pet's waste properly is important for environmental AND health reasons – the bacteria and pathogens in their waste can contaminate our water supply and make people ill. So what to do? Landfills are designed to handle this waste, so throwing it in the garbage is your best bet, but consider biodegradable bags (corn-based) when you're walking your pooch. The biodegradable bags will break down easier and faster than plastic bags. Other alternatives? Flush it, but make sure your sewage/septic system is equipped for this as animal feces often times have hair and other pesky items that are difficult to handle. You may also consider burying it, but make sure that you're planting it at least 18 inches deep and away from water sources and gardens with vegetation meant for eating.
5. Recycle Pet Product Packaging
You recycle everything from beverage bottles to newspapers, so don't forget what you can recycle on behalf of your furry friends. From the metal cans to cat litter boxes to the wee plastic pouches that hold your pet's favorite treat, figure out what materials are used to package your pet products and check with your municipality on the recyclability of them. For more info, check out Q & A: Recycling Pet Products.