This is a blog written by Amber McDaniel, who is the Head Editor at Sustainable Jungle
It’s no secret that we love dogs.
What we DON’T love is how big of an eco pawprint dogs can have on the planet. The average medium-size dog has an annual carbon footprint of 2.1 acres, or double that of driving a gas-guzzling 6,000 miles a year.
Talk about ruff for the environment.
That’s why we’re begging for more folks to get on board with the concept of a zero waste dog. Yes, it sounds impossible (especially when you’re cleaning up puppy piddle or the torn stuffing out of yet another demolished dog bed), but we assure you it’s not.
For those unfamiliar with the philosophy of zero waste, its ultimate goal is to send nothing to landfill.
We know, that’s a lofty goal and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s unachievable! Rather imagine your waste creation as something on a spectrum, being mindful of how much you can do to move the needle, but not stressing too hard when Fido destroys your shoes beyond the point of repair!
For dogs, going zero waste means investing in eco friendly pet products and upcycling to lower your canine’s consumption as much as possible.
Here are our top five tips to making your pooch more eco friendly.
Dish up some eco friendly dog food
One of the biggest bites our furry friends are taking out of the planet is by, well, eating!
We know the animal agriculture industry is incredibly harmful and produces immense amounts of methane gas. What most don’t know, however, is that pet food alone accounts for 25% of its impact.
The most sustainable option you can do for dinnertime is to make your dog’s food yourself. However, that requires the privilege of time and energy, which admittedly many of us simply don’t have.
But you can still make sustainable feeding choices without breaking out the recipe book. How?
By switching to sustainable dog food brands.
Whether your dog prefers wet or dry food, there are better alternatives out there that either steer clear of meat products altogether or use them from sustainable sources. Both options are better for the planet.
They’re also better for your dog because they contain real, whole ingredients that support canine health, without the typical preservatives and fillers found in standard dog food.
Beco’s dog food, for instance, utilizes top-quality vegan ingredients like pumpkin, spinach, chickpeas, and kale, and sustainably-sourced meats like wild boar, tuna, and free-range turkey.
Even better if the food is packaged in something sustainable, like Beco’s 70% renewable and 100% recyclable TetraPak wet dog food containers.
Sustainability scoop poop
What goes in, must come out. When it does, be prepared to deal with it responsibly.
The United States is home to around 80 million of man’s-best-friends, which amounts to 10 million tons of poop… per year! That’s a lot of doggy doo bags.
If you’re at home, there are lots of sustainable options for cleaning up pet messes, including one as simple as using newspaper to pick up poop and flush it down the toilet. The EPA (Environmental protection agency) actually recommends this as the #1 safest way to dispose of dog poop.
It’s those afternoon walks in the park where poop becomes a bigger problem. For those times, compostable and biodegradable trash bags are the go-to, like these poop bags.
This area is a tricky one though, as there are lots of bags that claim
to be biodegradable and just aren’t. Compostable bags are
biodegradable but only home compostable bags can be disposed of
in your backyard compost. So many brands claim their bags are
biodegradable but they are not the same thing and any company
that tries to convince you are greenwashing you.
Look for bags that are certified compostable by ASTM D6400, D6868, or EN13432 (like Beco’s bags mentioned above!)
Another critical tip for making a dog’s most wasteful function less so is to just pick it up every. single.time. No, it’s not just to stop some unfortunate soul from running into a meeting late with dog doo on their shoe. Picking up dog poop in your own backyard is just as important as doing it in public and wild spaces.
Whenever it rains, dog poop, and all the microorganisms it contains (like giardia, roundworm, and E. coli), gets washed into nearby waterways. In public and urban areas, that leads to contaminated drinking water. In rural areas, it can lead to unhealthy algae growth and severely damaged aquatic ecosystems.
Start your new puppy on the right planet-friendly paw print
It's never late to teach an old dog new tricks, but it’s definitely easier to start your pup off on the right planet-minded paw when they’re young.
There are so many ways to train yourself to reduce, reuse, and refuse, while at the same time teaching them to sit, stay, and come.
For potty training, use washable pee pads or compostable newspaper to line your pup’s crate so you’re not having to throw away a sheet of plastic every time they have an accident.
When those puppy teeth start to fall out and they just want to chew on everything, make sure they have durable toys to chew on (and not much access to anything else!). If that means the shoes go on the foyer table, so be it!
Beco Pets sells a Sustainable Puppy Pack to get you started with some such toys and healthy puppy food all-in-one.
Make playtime a little less destructive
If destroyed toys were dollars, we would be rich.
Expensive habits aside, dog toys have lots of other consequences, like being made from plastic which means it will never break down in a landfill and might even cause your dog harm when swallowed.
Eco friendly pet toys, or those that are designed to last and are made from responsible materials, will not only save you money in the short term but save your dog in the long term.
Beco’s collection of dog toys includes those made from materials like recycled plastic, hemp rope, and natural rubber. While the latter two are the most sustainable options, being made from natural and thus compostable materials, all three have their eco benefits.
Still, for heavy chewers, stay away from the recycled plastic, as it can be toxic for dogs to ingest. Rubber and high-quality antlers are by far the best choice for chewers.
Speaking of recycled pet toys, you might not even need to buy toys at all. See what you can find from around the house or in a thrift store to placate your pup. Maybe you’re wondering what to
do with old clothes? Turn them into stuffed animals! This is an especially great option while you’re learning what types of toys your dog prefers.
Recycle stuff for rover as much as possible
Toys aren’t the only pet products that can be recycled.
Dogs are tough on stuff, and so it only makes sense that we don’t dump too much money into products that may not last more than an hour.
While biodegradable bamboo collars and other bamboo pet products are a good option for soft goods that can't stand up to a chew-happy canine, making your own leash or collar is an even better one. Check the house to see if you have any old rope or paracord lying around. Both those can be upcycled into dog leashes and collars with minimal effort.
You might even be able to upcycle your own dog bed or crate liner. See what old blankets and cushions you have lying around the house. Take old pillows and stuff them into a recycled fabric duvet cover. Or even consider mattress recycling if you have an old one lying around. The possibilities are endless.
Only after you have exhausted the materials you already own should you opt for an eco friendly dog bed.
Final thoughts on eco friendly dog tips
Dogs (and cats, for that matter) bring so much joy into our lives. It’s safe to say things just wouldn’t be the same without waking up to a tongue up the nose.
That said, as conscious pet parents we should consider the long term impact of our fur babies. If we want to keep a healthy, thriving planet for all animals (including us humans), we need to take responsibility for the dogs we have right now.
By opting to buy sustainable pet products (not wasteful ones), you can help to lower waste while increasing tail wags and butt wiggles for years to come.
It’s up to all of us dog moms and dads to turn man’s best friend into mankind’s best friend!