There’s no denying our pets give us tremendous joy and boost our quality of life but they can also increase our household’s environmental footprint. From plastic-packaged pet food to plastic toys, our pets can have a sizeable plastic ‘paw-print’.
So in this post, we share some eco-friendly ways to raise a plastic-free pet and help you limit the amount of plastic your fur babies consume:
1. Biodegradable doggy poop bags
According to the RSPCA, there is an estimated 29 million pets in Australia. In the United States, its estimated that 78 million dogs and 85.8 million cats are owned. They may be cute, they they also poop and unfortunately, most doggy-poop bags are made of plastic, all of which usually ends up in landfill.
Purchasing poop bags that are certified compostable and biodegradable is a better alternative since they don’t break down into microplastics and in the right compost conditions break down within six months. Some great biodegradable pet poop bag options include Earth Rated, Planet Poop and Doggy Do Good. You can also use simple paper lunch bags which will perform the same function.
2. Natural cat litter
If you’ve got a cat, choose natural cat litter made from paper and cardboard such as Purina Yesterday’s News Unscented Paper Cat Litter made from recycled paper, cardboard and wood shavings. You can also make cat litter yourself by shredding old newspaper and paper.
3. Compost your pet’s poop
Go a step further and compost your pet’s poop. A medium-sized dog, for instance, produces roughly 180 kilograms of poop per year contributing to the greenhouse gas problem. Instead of dumping it, invest in a good pet waste compost system. You can either buy one or make one yourself (this is a better option if you have multiple pets or medium-sized to large dogs), but either way, the less pet poop you send to landfill, the better.
You can also set up a pet wormery for your pet’s poop – just remember not to add this soil to your garden beds for human health and hygiene reasons.
4. Choose toys made of natural materials
Instead of choosing plastic-toys that are no good for your pet’s health or the planet’s, choose toys that are made of earth-friendly materials such as natural rubber, hemp or cotton. Check out the Natural Pet Company for planet-friendly toys for your pets. You can also find some handcrafted natural toys on Etsy such as this hemp tug toy and this cat’s wool felt rattle toy.
5. Make your own pet food
If you have the time or inclination, making your own pet food can also help to reduce your pet’s plastic consumption by reducing packaging. The key is to purchase all the ingredients plastic-free or in bulk. For instance, animal protein such as mince usually features in homemade pet food and you can purchase good quality mince plastic-free from any butcher just by bringing your own reusable container. For great DIY homemade pet food recipes, check out the popular dog food recipe by Damn Delicious and these homemade cat food recipes published by Fetch by WebMD.
6. Buy pet food in bulk
Another way to reduce the amount of plastic linked to pet ownership is to buy pet food in bulk as you would buy your own food in bulk. So instead of purchasing small bags (or even tins) of cat food, dog food, fish flakes or even chicken feed, opt for the larger sized bags. These can be purchased at pet shops or any rural supplies store. While there’s a higher upfront cost, it usually works out to be cheaper in the longer run and you’ll reduce the amount of plastic associated to packaged pet food as well.
7. Plastic-free pet grooming
Plastic-free pet care is widely available now with the rise in popularity of the zero waste movement. Popular eco-friendly stores such as Biome Eco Store in Australia and Earth Hero in the US stock shampoo bars for pets so you can avoid plastic bottles entirely. Popular brands of pet shampoo bars include Ethique and JR Liggett’s.
If you need a pet brush, make sure to buy one made from natural materials such as wood or bamboo rather than plastic.
8. Buy second-hand pet accessories
You can reduce the amount of virgin plastic your pet consumes just by purchasing accessories second hand. Whether you need a carrier, litter tray, kennel, cage, leash or pet food bowl, you should be able to find a used one on sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and even Craigslist. If you don’t have time to search for these second-hand, visit eco-friendly online pet stores such as Natural Pet Store and Only Natural Pet.
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Cover image by cottonbro.