Having pets can cause a lot of waste, especially when it comes to food production. Although I found conflicting information regarding the exact carbon footprint of our furry friends, an estimate cited by Jeff McMahon from Forbes magazine says cats and dogs alone could be responsible for up to 64 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, coming primarily from their food production.
Dogs and cats are carnivores, meaning they need to eat a lot of meat. The production of meat, particularly beef, is what creates such a high carbon footprint. However, there are many things we can do to mitigate these emissions.
Firstly, McMahon explains that the smaller the animal, the smaller the carbon footprint – this makes sense, as smaller animals obviously eat less, with cats at the lowest end of the carbon footprint spectrum. When selecting a furry friend, consider a smaller one for the environment.
Additionally, when selecting a food, consider finding one that has a lower percentage of beef in it, opting for one that is chicken or fish based. There are some lines of belief that dogs and cats can be fed vegan or vegetarian, which cuts down on carbon emissions greatly, but make sure to carefully research this and discuss it with you veterinarian before trying – it is important that your pet gets their essential nutrients.
Another way of cutting back on meat for your cats and dogs is to use plant based treats – for example, my dog goes nuts for blueberries. Simply cutting out meaty treats doesn’t cut out all their meat intake, but does reduce it, therefore reducing your pet’s carbon footprint.
Another consideration with pets is the material waste that goes into animal ownership. Dog/cat toys, food bags, and poop bags are all areas where you can reduce your waste with your pet. When buying dog food, buy the largest bags available – that cuts down on the amount of trash your dog’s food creates.
To be truly as zero waste as you can be, you can feed your pet raw meat from the butcher or grocery store, potentially cutting down on waste if you’re buying plastic-free – however, raw feeding is a lot of work (I know from experience!) and you have to be very diligent about keeping their diet balanced. Again, if you want to consider a raw, low waste diet for your pet, consult your veterinarian and do your research!
For those feeding kibble, there are several recycling programs through Terracycle that recycle pet food bags. I have not yet tried these either, but I intend to try it out! They only accept certain pet food containers, so in order to utilize these programs, you might need to consider a change in the food you feed your pet.
For toys and poop bags, consider more eco-friendly alternatives to traditional plastic bags and synthetic toys. There are lots of compostable and biodegradable poop bag options out there, such as these.
For cat owners, consider switching from clay-based cat litter to more eco-friendly options, such as sWheat Scoop or Yesterday’s News. Using more eco-friendly materials for your pet’s waste cuts down on plastics and synthetics.
For toys and beds, consider eco-friendly materials like recycled material, organic cotton, hemp, etc. Beco pets is a British company that uses earth-friendly materials in their dogs toys and products. They have great products, and many of them are available on Amazon! My dog has a Beco bone and ball, and she loves both of them!
Another source of waste I have been considering are lint rollers. My dog and my parent’s dog both shed liberally, so we are often lint rolling – which is incredibly wasteful! I haven’t found a great alternative yet, but when my rollers run out I am going to try the Arm and Hammer reusable lint roller. I can’t say for sure if it works yet, but once I try it, I will update you all!
Please feel free to comment what you do to mitigate your pet’s carbon footprint, and check out our Pets board on Pinterest! Good luck on your journey toward reducing waste!
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