Can our furry friends be eco-friendly too?
When we think about living sustainably, we often think about what people can do, but rarely do we stop to consider how much waste our pets produce. It is surprising how much our small friends require in order to live with us: food, water bowls, beds, etc. In fact, a UCLA study found that dogs and cats contribute 25 to 30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption the U.S. alone.
Currently, there are no easy solutions to dramatically reducing the environmental impact of our pets, but here are a few tips for dog and cat owners. After all, any small action can make a difference.
- Research different brands and try to choose food that’s minimally processed.
- Think about the packaging. There are companies that sell food in recyclable cans.
- Try to wash pet bedding instead of tossing out and purchasing a new one. Another alternative is to donate your old pillow like the puppy pictured below.
- Limit plastic toys and try to choose ones made of recyclable materials. Making your own toys out of an old t-shirt or empty toilet paper roll is a fun weekend project!
- Cleaning up after your dogs when they are out for a walk can help prevent water contamination.
- Invest in biodegradable waste bags to help with the breakdown process.
- Chose eco-friendly cat litter that doesn’t use as many chemicals as traditional companies do.
There are many other types of pets that we haven’t even considered yet such as birds, fish, reptiles, insects, and more. However, no matter what kind of animal (or insect) your best friend is, there are many ways to be more environmentally conscientious. One of the easiest things to do is raise awareness. Talk with your friends and loved ones and brainstorm ideas of how to make sure your household’s footprint is as small as possible.
Written by Emily Su, Class of 2022