16 Ways to Be a More Eco-Friendly Pet Owner, According to Experts

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Written by Sarah Hancock | September 5th, 2019
Sarah Hancock is passionate about green living and sustainability. She frequently writes about renewable energy and manages the Solar blog at BestCompany.com.

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We all love our pets; they provide companionship, make us feel safe, and can even bring about certain health benefits. However, pets also have a significant negative impact on climate change and the environment. For example, according to a recent UCLA study, feeding pets creates the equivalent of 64 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. Additionally, American pets produce approximately 5.1 million tons of feces, more than one-fourth of the amount produced by American humans, which also has a large CO2 output in terms of processing.

To help combat the negative environmental impact of pets, we asked 16 experts to fill in the blank: “Pet owners can better care for both their pet and the planet by _____________.”

These are their responses:

“Pet owners can better care for both their pets and the planet by feeding their pets clean, fresh foods. Kibble and canned food made with poor ingredients has consistently been associated with heavy metals, which are deposited in the environment when eliminated. These metals are much less prevalent in clean, whole pet foods.” -Dr. Oscar Chavez, Chief Medical Officer at JustFoodForDogs

“Pet owners can better care for both their pets and the planet by making treats at home. Many dogs get treats on a daily basis, so the number of treats given over the dog's lifetime can really add up in terms of impact to the dog's health and the planet. Without getting into specifics on how and where the majority of dog treats are made, I think it's safe to say that most that contain animal byproducts come from large industrial operations that aren't exactly known for being great stewards of the earth. A healthier, more sustainable option for dog owners is to make treats at home. There are tons of great DIY dog treat recipes online that are easy and inexpensive to make. The best part: you know exactly what goes into every treat and where the ingredients came from. My dog, Teddy, absolutely loves treats containing peanut butter and bananas!” -Jim Robinson, Owner at Clean Green Simple

“Pet owners can better care for both their pets and the planet by picking up their stool. Pets can carry parasites. When they defecate, they are expelling eggs from these parasites too. These eggs can easily be transferred from dog to dog or from dog to person. When picking up your dog's stool, use an eco-friendly easily biodegradable poop bags. By using this type of poop bag, you will help decrease the amount of plastic waste in landfills.” -Dr. Sara Ochoa, Veterinary Consultant at DogLab

“Pet owners can better care for both their pet and the planet by using small reusable towels to pick up their dog’s poop instead of having to use paper towels each time.” -Franco Colomba of Dog Toe Grips

woman feeding cat

“Pet owners can better care for both their pet and the planet by composting their pet's waste. Our pets are helped because when pet parents are focused on using their pet's waste for composting, the waste is dealt with more quickly. That helps their pet avoid getting back into their own waste, yuck! Additionally, the environment benefits because the waste is put back into the environment in a healthy manner! Of course, pet waste isn't best for vegetable-type compost, but for farming or yard work, it is a great fit! If every pet parent composted their pet's waste, the world would be a much cleaner place.” -Devin Stagg, Marketing Manager at Pupford

"Pet owners can better care for both their pet and the planet by reducing their pet’s plastic pawprint. Plastic is not only really bad for the planet, it is unhealthy for your pet. As your pet licks and chews on plastic toys and beds, they are at an increased risk of choking hazards, intestinal obstruction, bacterial infections, and exposure to harmful chemicals. As for the planet, plastic is filling up our oceans and devastating wildlife at sea and in the air at unprecedented rates. Ways to reduce your pet's plastic footprint include:

  1. Purchasing toys made from natural materials such as hemp, cotton, wood, bamboo, and wool
  2. Using pet waste bags that are certified compostable and actually plastic free
  3. Supporting pet brands that provide plastic-free alternatives”

-Danny Newman, Director of Operations and Outreach at Boba&Vespa

"Pet owners can better care for both their pet and the planet by subscribing to a pet food recycling program to avoid sending food pouches and containers to the landfill. Signing up to a pet food recycling scheme means recycling will be done for you at a central facility. Subscribers can either send their empty food containers by post or drop them at a nearby location free of charge.” -Marlene Fao, Blogger and Owner at My Mindful Home

“Pet owners can better care for both their pet and the planet by purchasing environmentally-friendly materials whenever possible, like stainless steel or ceramic feeding bowls instead of plastic. Not only are they better for the environment, but they’ll last longer and are better for your pet's health too.” -Lir Buk, Founder at Puppy Tip

woman walking dog

“Pet owners can better care for both their pets and the planet by moving away from foam and other fire retardants in pet bedding and going with more washable cottons and other natural materials.” -Russell Hartstein, Pet Expert and CEO at Fun Paw Care

"Pet owners can better care for both their pet and the planet by looking for eco-friendly leashes and harnesses." -Igor Mitic, Co-Founder at Fortunly

“Pet owners can better care for both their pets and the planet by making sure what they buy lasts forever. It might be appealing to go with the cheapest and most convenient option, but that does not always mean that it's the best for your pet or the environment. When buying things for my pet, I ensure that what I buy can be reused over and over again (hopefully forever). For items that my pet does not like, I try to resell or give them away.” -Alex Tran, Wellness and Sustainability Blogger at Schimiggy

“Pet owners can better care for both their pets and the planet by shopping in-store. Shopping online may be convenient, but think of all those cardboard boxes being thrown away–yikes. If you do order pet supplies online, put your delivery boxes to use before you recycle. For example, you can leave it out, cut holes in it, or fill it with tissue paper. Your cat or rabbit will get hours of fun out of this box, probably more than any toy you could buy! It also provides a fun hiding spot for many pets (rabbits, cats, ferrets, you name it).” -Erin Bokuniewicz, Category Manager at Pet Supplies Plus

dog and cat snuggling

"Pet owners can better care for both their pets and the planet by choosing greener shipping options when shopping for pet products online. Transportation of products has a huge impact on the environment. There is more of a negative environmental impact when a product is delivered overnight or than a slower shipping option. This is because the transportation company is given less time and cannot consolidate products going to a similar area as well.” -Patra de Silva, Founder and President at NHV Natural Pet

"Pet owners can better care for both their pet and the planet by using shampoos and washes that contain natural, plant-based ingredients when they bathe them. This means their coat and delicate skin won't be irritated, and you can be confident you're not washing any harsh chemicals into our waterways."
-Bella Middleton, Founder at Norfolk Natural Living

"Pet owners can better care for both their pet and the planet by cleaning their homes with organic, pet-safe all-purpose cleaner." -Jayme Bella, Founder and CEO at Greenerways Organic

“Pet owners can better care for both their pets and the planet by removing pet hair from carpets with a shower squeegee rather than a vacuum. Vacuuming up after your pets can use a lot of electricity.” -Joanne Archer, Editor at Expert Home Tips

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