5 Tips for the Eco-friendly Pet Parent

Pet care & safety
Couple in a Van with a Yorkie

Have you been thinking you’d like to help animals beyond just your own pet? I don’t mean adopting, through rescuing a pet has a major benefit for the animal population and our earth. I mean caring for the other beings we share the earth with. If you’re an eco-friendly pet parent, or maybe just thinking about going green, here are 5 simple tricks to do your part.

Scoop the Poop

It sounds so obvious that you’d get rid of that stinky stuff, but it’s about more than just odor. Pathogens can be leached into the ground, ending up in the water supply. Gross. The best thing to do is put the poop in the trash (I was using plastic grocery bags for this, until I found out they take 1500 years to break down), because not all water treatment systems handle animal waste. Even indoor cat poop can contain toxoplasmosis, which is not something that should go into the water supply. Bag it up, pitch it, and your nose and the earth will thank you.

And, while some green advocates endorse composting poop, be super careful that you don’t use pet waste compost on gardens where humans will be harvesting food. Big no-no.

Use Safe Flea Protection

No, you don’t have to go the essential oil route for flea and tick prevention, though some swear by it. But be aware that topical pet products leave pesticide residue on their fur for weeks, which we then touch and absorb, putting our brains and nervous systems at risk. (This is especially bad in homes with kids.)

Start by ditching the chemical flea collar or topical treatment. See if you can get away with preventing parasites through regular bathing and vacuuming. If that doesn’t cut it, consider alternatives, like a natural scent collar (I’ve had good luck with Alzoo dog collars) or talk to your vet about switching to a pill form of flea prevention.

Consider the Litter

If your cat is using a traditional clumping litter, they might be suffering from respiratory issues as a result of the dust. And most of these litters contain sodium bentonite, which is commonly strip mined, a process which is very harmful to the earth. Instead, you can use just a small amount of an eco-friendly litter, such as wood or even pressed newspaper. While green litters might seem a bit more costly, you don’t need nearly as much and a bag lasts for ages.

Check the Food

First, are you buying your pet’s food in bulk, saving on packaging and gas for multiple shopping trips? If not, consider how much you could save your wallet while saving mother earth.

Second, is your food sourced sustainably? Consider it a good thing for the environment if your pet’s food contains things like liver, kidney, or other organ meat, because these are nutrient-rich remnants from human-grade meat production. Bonus points if your pet’s food is organic, gmo free, hormone free, or antibiotic free and is sourced from meat domestically.

Accessorize Wisely

Are you using cheap plastic bowls to feed your pet? Consider switching to a ceramic or steel option that could last their whole lifetime and beyond. Are they chewing up a different stuffed toy every week? Think about investing in a higher-quality toy that will last longer, keeping stuffing and squeakers from ending up in the landfill.

When shopping for your pet, look for durable items, preferably from eco-friendly or recycled materials. Take a moment to consider what you’re bringing into your home and eventually leaving behind whenever you purchase pet accessories, whether it be a litter box, collar, pet bed, or toy.