Creating a sustainable, plastic free New Zealand has been a hot topic recently. Did you know that our beloved pets have a surprisingly high carbon footprint? Owning a dog, has an average annual carbon footprint comparable to running two SUV cars for one year. Having a feline friend in our lives is the equivalent to running a compact car continuously for a year!
An obvious problem surrounding our pets is pet waste – or poop. On average, a dog can produce up to 120kg of poop per year. This has a heavy impact on our environment due to toxic levels of pathogens that can leach into our waterways. Luckily, we now have many options to safely and sustainably dispose of our pet waste. Biodegradable and compostable poop bags made from plant starch are an eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags. Which can take up to 1000 years to break down! It might come as a surprise to many cat owners that despite their natural source, clay based litter does not easily decompose. The better choice is recycled paper litter, which are much cleaner for the home and environment. Home composting of pet waste is not commonly used in our backyards but is relatively easy – check out the Ensopet Pet Waste Composter Kit.
Reducing your pet’s carbon footprint starts close to home by purchasing locally produced products. Many local farmers markets and pet stores make products from locally sourced ingredients. Suppliers such as Pupcakes bake exquisite doggy cupcakes (great for doggy birthday parties) and Foragenz use locally sourced and often homegrown ingredients for bunnies.
Reuse or Repurpose
By far, the most eco-friendly advice we can give to owners is to reuse and repurpose. Pet stores and online shopping are easy to indulge in. Stop those cheap easy purchases at pet retailers and see what treasure you can find at an op shop. The reverse can be done, someone’s junk is another’s treasure. Most charities and veterinary clinics rely on donated beds, blankets and towels. Any items that you do need to throw away, another option is to give them a new lease on life by repurposing them. Some items found in the home such as torn towels, plastic bottles, or toilet rolls can be turned into fun enrichment toys.
These ideas we have suggested are a starting point in our environmental consideration when it comes to our pets. We are seeing the beginning of more eco friendly alternatives in retail stores, but the biggest contributor to the change lies with pet owners. Our pets offer us many years of love and it is entirely possible to offer our pets a healthy lifestyle as well as taking care of our environment.