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Sustainable Pet Ownership

Some say that pet ownership can be bad for the environment, but there are ways to reduce your pet’s ecological footprint.

1. Make your own pet products from recycled or locally sourced materials: It’s easy to make a bed for a cat or dog using old blankets and most pets love homemade toys. There are plenty of free pet craft patterns available online.

2. Buy pet supplies locally: Most pet products are shipped from faraway countries. Purchasing from local companies reduces carbon emissions.

3. Choose green pet products: Look for items with less packaging, recycled materials, and eco-friendly ingredients. Select durable items that will last.

4. Don’t use clay cat litter: Clay litter production requires environmentally disastrous strip mining. Biodegradable plant-based litters (corn, wheat, wood, paper, etc.), though not a perfect solution, are a better choice for the environment.

5. Compost pet waste: Pet waste and biodegradable cat litters are compostable. However, pet waste can harbor pathogens so it requires a separate composter and the compost should not be used on or near food gardens.

6. Spay and neuter your pets: Reducing the number of unwanted pets diminishes the environmental impacts of companion animals.

7. Walk to the dog park: Driving 10 fewer miles each week saves approximately 400 pounds of carbon emissions per year.

8. Protect local ecosystems: Keep cats indoors or confined to a yard using a cat fence and don’t walk dogs in ecologically sensitive areas.

9. Buy pet food in bulk: Purchase larger quantities and choose the biggest bags or cans available to reduce packaging and car trips.

10. Make your own pet food using locally sourced ingredients: Preparing meals for your pet from scratch can significantly reduce the negative environmental impacts associated with pet food production, packaging, and shipping. Do some research and work with a veterinarian to ensure that your homemade pet food meets nutritional and safety requirements.

Green Venture, “Pet Waste Composting,” 2009. http://waste.greenventure.ca/pet-waste-composting
Klaiman, M., “Litter and the Environment,” Pet Product News International, 2012. http://www.petproductnews.com/web-exclusives/litter-and-the-environment.aspx

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