Most of us are more aware than ever before of ways that we can live more sustainably and reduce the impact we have on the environment. But have you stopped to consider the impact your dog has on the planet and the size of the pawprint your dog is leaving behind? If this is something new to you, we’ve got some puppy-sized tips to help get you started. And if you’ve been trotting down this path for some time now, we’ve also got some Great Dane-sized tips that you may not have considered.
First up – small and easy, but impactful!
1. Waste bags
You may think that Fido’s poop is completely natural so why bother to pick it up – it will eventually just become part of the soil or the rain will just wash it away – right? The problem is dog feces can be harmful to the environment. It can carry disease and pollute waterways so pick up your pet’s poop, even if it’s in an area where people typically don’t walk.
When it comes to poop picker-uppers, use compostable bags. Regular plastic bags take years and years to break down, if ever. There are more options than ever before for bags that will actually decompose, such as bags made from plants and other materials.
Bonus good karma points if you pick up poop left behind from someone else’s pet.
2. Pet food packaging
Pets eat a lot of food and this means a lot of packaging too. Look for packaging that can be recycled like the Tetra Pak cartons used for Go! Solutions wet food recipes. Over 2/3 of our Tetra Pak cartons are made of a renewable & responsibly managed resource – TREES! Trees regenerate naturally and help us to achieve a low carbon footprint Tetra Pak cartons are recyclable and made from 69% renewable resources and FSC-certified paper. In Canada approximately 89% of households have access to carton recycling. To learn more visit Carton Council of Canada. In the USA, approximately 60% of households have access to carton recycling. To find out where you can recycle your cartons in the USA visit the Carton Council of USA.
There are a myriad of uses for empty, clean pet food bags so reuse and upcycle those bags. Bags with Velcro closures are great for storing things like painting supplies; use the bags for wet cat litter; keep a large bag or two in your car for wet/dirty clothes or shoes after a hike or trip to the beach, etc.
3. Sustainability certifications
Certifications on the packaging for pet food, toys, accessories, etc. can help you quickly identify ingredients or materials that have met rigorous sustainability criteria. An example is the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification which requires fishing operations to meet very strict criteria to preserve the ecosystem. Pet food such as Go! Solutions Skin + Coat Care Pollock Pâté with Grains wet food recipe for dogs.
4. Purpose-driven companies
Sustainability goes beyond environmental concerns. It also includes how businesses are working to support the communities where they do business and throughout their supply chain. You can show support with your wallet for companies that are using their business as a force for good. Check the websites for your favourite pet food and pet accessories brands – are they giving back to their communities in meaningful ways? If not, consider switching to brands that do.
Dogs, like little kids, are constantly putting things in their mouths so it’s best to look for toys made from non-toxic materials. Many companies now are making eco-friendly pet toys from recyclable or recycled materials, or earth-friendly fabrics like hemp and other natural fibers. Really try to limit toys made from plastic which can end up in landfills where they’ll never decompose. And since dogs tend to get bored easily of toys, consider donating gently used toys to your local animal rescue. The toys will get a much longer life and you’ll bring joy to an animal waiting for its forever home.
Tempted by the latest electronic gadget to amuse your pet? Try to resist. Just because you’re wowed, doesn’t mean your pet will be. And these digital toys have a high environmental cost – from the plastic used to make them, to the electricity demand used to manufacture them. Instead stick with the tried and true toys like chews and balls which minimize wasteful power usage.
And of course -reuse! Tie old t-shirts into knots to make pull toys for dogs. Or consider a toy swap with friends who have pets. People do this with kids’ toys – why not also do it for pets’ toys?!
Tips that stretch beyond typical consideration…
6. Feeding your pet
Many dogs are substantially heavier than their ideal body weight. Check out our Body Score Chart to see what your dog’s healthy weight should look and feel like. It is important not to overfeed your pet. Not only is it not good for their waistline, but it’s not a sustainable practice either.
Speaking of food, consider the type of animal protein in your pet’s food and the environmental impact of how that animal was raised in the animal production industry. Poultry production has the lowest impact to the plant, beef has the highest impact, and fish and pork are in between.
7. Holistic service providers
10 years ago holistic veterinarians were virtually non-existent. Now they’re starting to become more mainstream. Holistic vets typically use natural remedies which are non-toxic and non-contaminating to the water supply. Holistic medicine can be more eco-friendly for the planet and your pet.
Also look for groomers using natural pet care products. Most pet shampoos contain harsh chemicals which contaminate the water when it goes down the drain, and can then end up leaching into the ground. Your dog or cat will be healthier without the harsh chemicals and so will the fish where the water ends up.
If sustainability and pet-parenting is a new combo for you, kudos for being open to new ideas! As with anything new, start small and add in one thing at a time to your lifestyle. Don’t try to take everything on at once. If you’re the poster-child for sustainable pet-parenting congrats! Helping your friends who are just starting a sustainable journey with their pet is a great way to share your knowledge and will benefit everyone involved. Slow and steady, supportive, sustainable and purposeful steps will win the race for you, your pet, and the planet.