As dawn breaks on a new decade, forest fires rage in Australia, floods swamp Indonesia and climate change is (or should be) at the forefront of everyone’s mind. With a staggering 1 billion native Australian animals lost to date, we watch on helplessly from the UK as Mother Nature reminds us of her savage power.
As we all look for more ways to reduce our own carbon emissions, it’s time to look to the enormous ‘carbon paw prints’ that our much loved companions leave on the environment.
Researchers in New Zealand found that the average medium-sized dog has a carbon footprint roughly twice the size of an SUV driven 10,000 kilometres a year. Cats weren’t much better, occupying the same footprint as a small Volkswagen.
Between their meaty diets and the mess they leave behind, our pets are big polluters. And then there’s also all the treats, bedding, clothes, toys and supplies we lavish on them. Thankfully, there are easy ways to make your Fido’s life a little more eco friendly, that not only lower your pet’s carbon footprint for the planet, but also improve their health and wellbeing.
Scoop the poop
A staggering amount of dog waste is created each year, causing a massive environmental issue if it’s not cleaned up. The bacteria in faeces leaches into the ground and water sources, contaminating water courses and harming marine life.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, rain doesn’t actually wash it away, so the environmentally- friendly solution is always to scoop the poop.
Conventional plastic bags take anywhere from ten to a thousand years to break down in a landfill, so opt for a greener option – like biodegradable or compostable pet waste bags. These break down exponentially faster. Look for bags that are naturally scented and created from non-GMO crops like tapioca and corn.
Keep it lean
Pet food production consumes vast amounts of land, water and resource; with beef production being the most polluting and environmentally-draining of them all. The UN estimates that livestock production is responsible for 18% of all CO2 emissions worldwide.
So while us humans attempt ‘Veganuary’, why not swap out your beef-based pet food to one that’s protein base is grain, cereal, turkey, chicken or fish-based. And the same goes for all those pet treats.
Making slight changes in your pet’s diet will go a long way to reduce how much they contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. With more than £17m spend on pet food last year, your individual choice can add up to a big difference.
Look for upcycled pet products
Tonnes of pet products made from plastics end up being thrown into landfill every year. These non-renewable materials can also be a danger to your health, and the health of your pet. Inexpensive plastic pet products, including toys, beds, feeding dishes and clothes, can contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a chemical classified as a human carcinogen and one that poses a danger to animal health.
For feeding bowls, opt for stainless steel, which is long lasting and durable. Look for dog toys and pet products made from recycled materials that are sustainable and tough.
Manufacturers are making great strides to divert plastic from our landfills by creating stylish and eco-friendly pet products, including dogs beds and plush dog toys, using recycled plastic bottles. Project Blu has a dedicated eco friendly collection of dog beds and dog toys, made from recycled plastic, and sold in the UK.
Ditch plastic toys
Plastic dog toys are a popular way to keep dogs entertained and occupied, but they are far from durable. If you’ve ever watched a dog tear one to pieces, you’ll agree that most end up in the bin after being destroyed. Plastic products like Nylabone can also create dangerous intestinal blockages if large pieces are ingested.
Opt for a tougher and longer-lasting eco dog toy, made from upcycled ocean bound waste. Project Blu offers a great eco friendly solution for even the heartist chewers in your life, and our beautiful bone-shaped toys come in a variety of fabric designs.
Go green for grooming
The majority of off-the-shelf grooming products including shampoos and conditioners are packed with harmful pesticides and suspected carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals). Not only can these cause skin irritations for your dog, but these chemicals are harmful to local waterways when drained away.
Seek out biodegradable formulations that are paraben-free and use organic ingredients wherever possible. We’re huge fans of the divine smelling Paw Naturel dog grooming products that tick every box when it comes to eco credentials, free of DEA (diethanolamine), SLS (sodium laureth), BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), and synthetic colours and fragrances.
With a wealth of naturally-scented products now available to buy, with some brands even stocked on supermarket shelves; there is no excuse for putting your pet’s health and the environment at risk.
Adopt, don’t shop!
Adopting and rehoming a pet is the ultimate act of pet ‘recycling’. There is far from a global shortage of pets, and with tens of thousands of delightful companion animals put to sleep every year in the UK because they are unwanted, by adopting them you are saving them from an untimely end, not to mention freeing-up space for another to be taken in.
With pets of all ages accommodating rehoming shelters, you will also find some purebred animals, so never rule out finding exactly what you want (or falling in love with something completely different) until you’ve paid a visit to your local rehoming shelter.