As pet parents, we love our furry babies with all our hearts. We want to give them the very best in terms of care, nutrition, toys, and accessories. However, with millions of pets in households worldwide, their collective environmental impact is definitely something worth considering.
Are you looking for ways to reduce the “pawprint” your pet leaves on the environment? If so, you’re in the right place.
In this blog post, we’re diving into the world of sustainable pet ownership. I’m excited to share 9 practical tips with you that can make a big difference. My hope is that these practical suggestions will inspire you to take small steps towards sustainability, too – for the future of our pets and our planet.
Let’s dive in.
- #1 Adopt, Don’t Shop
- #2 Choose High-Quality, Eco-Friendly Dog Toys
- #3 Opt For Fewer, Higher Quality Toys
- #4 Rethink Pet Fashion and Accessories
- #5 Choose Truly Compostable Poop Bags
- #6 Use Natural Waste Pick Up Methods
- #7 Help Your Pup Wee Responsibly
- #8 DIY Some Dog Treats
- #9 Bring Reusable Bags when Shopping at the Pet Supply Store.
- #10 Donate Old Supplies
- Final Words
#1 Adopt, Don’t Shop
As pet parents, we’re constantly showered with cute puppy and kitten photos tempting us to bring a new furry friend home. Pet stores and breeders make it so convenient to simply buy a pet.
However, there’s a powerful yet underutilized way to practice sustainable pet parenting is to provide a forever home for a shelter animal in need.
With animal shelters and rescue organizations filled to the brim, adoption is urgently needed. Millions of loving pets are euthanized annually in the US alone due to a lack of resources and space. As tough as this reality is, there’s hope. When you adopt one pet, you’re not just saving a life but also freeing up resources—food, toys, medical care, and staff attention—for another animal in need. The ripple effect? If more people chose shelter adoption, those animal organizations could save and better utilize resources on a massive scale!
Personally, adopting Bailey, my energetic pup, has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. She was found abandoned on the streets before being nursed back to health at the shelter. When I saw her photos online, I knew she belonged with me.
Bringing her home has filled my life with so much love and joy. She’s blossomed from a shy, unsure pup into a friendly, well-adjusted dog under my care. I’m so glad I chose adoption over breeders or pet stores. It was 100% worth it, for both of us.
#2 Choose High-Quality, Eco-Friendly Dog Toys
Bailey loves her toys. Typical of her high-energy breed, she takes great delight in vigorously shaking and squeaking each new toy I bring home. However, I’ve learned to be selective about materials to minimize waste.
After collecting a huge basket of discarded plastic toys headed for the landfill, I’ve made it a point to choose sustainable options instead. Durable bamboo has become my go-to for long-lasting puzzle toys.
As one of the most renewable plants on Earth, bamboo regenerates rapidly without fertilizers or pesticides. Each resilient stalk gets harvested 5-6 times, absorbing far more carbon than typical trees. Bamboo’s robust root networks also prevent soil erosion.
#3 Opt For Fewer, Higher Quality Toys
As pet parents, we often want to shower our furry friends with loads of new toys. However, from both a minimalist and sustainability perspective, it’s better to avoid toys that quickly fall apart. Constantly replacing them isn’t ideal.
Instead of accumulating a mountain of low-quality toys that will end up in landfills, opt for a few durable, non-toxic toys that can last for years. This approach not only reduces waste but also ensures lasting enjoyment for your pet.
#4 Rethink Pet Fashion and Accessories
As pet parents, we often want to give our furry friends the very best, but do they really need an extensive wardrobe of clothes and accessories? Much like the human fashion industry, pet fashion is also prone to fast fashion trends, which brings its own set of environmental issues.
The production process, including the use of certain dyes, can be harmful to the environment if not managed properly. The environmental impact is further compounded by the shipping of these items from distant countries and the eventual disposal in landfills.
Many pet clothes are made from materials like polyester, which is derived from fossil fuels, adding to their ecological footprint. It’s worth considering the actual necessity and sustainability of these items.
Personally, I prefer a minimalist approach when it comes to my dog’s accessories. Living in a climate that doesn’t require additional clothing for my dog, she’s content without jackets or specialized pet wear. Occasionally, I’ll share one of my bandanas with her, tying it around her neck for a touch of flair. This simple gesture is enough to make her look charming without the need for a plethora of accessories. It’s a practical and eco-friendly choice, aligning with our commitment to a sustainable lifestyle.
#5 Choose Truly Compostable Poop Bags
When out on walks, carrying waste bags is an absolute must. However, plastic bags take an incredibly long time to decompose. That’s why I opt for compostable bags made from plant-based materials like corn, straw, and vegetable oils. Though pricier than plastic, they make up for it by breaking down within months in commercial composting facilities.
#6 Use Natural Waste Pick Up Methods
In a pinch, I’ll use sheets of newspaper or large fallen leaves to pick up and wrap waste during walks. They’re nature’s perfect biodegradable wrapper!
Newspaper breaks down quickly compared to plastics that may wander the Earth for centuries. Large leaves also work well as free, on-the-go biodegradable wrappers.
#7 Help Your Pup Wee Responsibly
Like any pet parent, I’ve dealt with my fair share of puppy accidents and excited peeing incidents on the carpet! For a more sustainable solution, I’ve switched to washable pee pads rather than disposable pads.
For senior dogs or those just recovering from surgery, washable pads are a great reusable option. I also use plant-based puppy pads made of bamboo fiber for the dog’s occasional indoor potty needs. They are completely biodegradable and compostable.
Some pads are even made from upcycled baby diaper materials, giving non-biodegradable diaper waste a new eco-friendly purpose. With so many sustainable alternatives available today, there’s no need to contribute to landfills with traditional pee pads.
#8 DIY Some Dog Treats
Watching Bailey delight in tasty treats always brings me joy. I like to get creative in the kitchen and whip up homemade goodies for her, too. DIY treats allow me to control the ingredients, avoid preservatives, and skip the packaging waste.
Her favorite homemade treats include peanut butter bites made with just a few simple ingredients like oats, pumpkin puree, and egg. I also make carrot cake-flavored biscuits for her birthday every year as a special treat. Not only does she devour them with relish, but these treats are also super quick and easy for me to make.
When I’m short on time, I also choose some healthy human food alternatives to reward her.
- Fruits: Bananas, blueberries, melon, apples (avoid grapes/raisins)
- Veggies: Carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, peas (without shells)
- Grains: Cooked oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa
- Others: Peanut butter (xylitol-free), plain yogurt, cheese, eggs
Important: Always check with your vet before giving new foods to your dog. Avoid onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, and chocolate, as they are toxic to dogs.
#9 Bring Reusable Bags when Shopping at the Pet Supply Store.
When I do need to shop at pet supply stores, I try to make sustainable choices.
An interesting fact: Did you know that a single disposable carryout bag has an average lifespan of only 12 minutes? Yet, it can end up as litter in our environment for up to 1000 years.
So, I prefer to bring my own reusable bags when purchasing toys, treats, and other small accessories. And I generally opt for larger bags of food to reduce packaging waste. Buying in bulk also helps minimize trips, time, and fuel costs. I look for eco-friendly brands that use recycled materials in their products while avoiding excess plastic packaging. With so many great options available today, shopping sustainably for your pet is easier than ever.
#10 Donate Old Supplies
Over time, toys and accessories get retired for various reasons. Rather than tossing them in the bin, I prefer donating gently used items to local animal rescues. Often, shelters take pet food and accessory donations as they struggle with limited resources.
Knowing my old pet possessions can find new life with another pet in need is a great sustainability practice. Before donating, I’m always sure to wash everything thoroughly and check for signs of wear and tear. I want the next furry friend to enjoy the toys as much as Bailey did!
With a bit of thought, pet parents really can make a measurable impact through everyday choices. Small steps lead to a significant change! I’m still a work in progress when it comes to sustainable pet care, but the rewarding feeling of doing my little part is what keeps me motivated.
If you’ve made it this far into my blog, thank you for reading! I hope you picked up some useful ideas for reducing your pet’s environmental pawprint. Don’t get disheartened by the enormity of the problem. Focus instead on what you and your pet can do to leave a gentler footprint on our planet.
It may feel overwhelming at first, but take it one step at a time. Consistency is key. I’m still learning, too, and so is my ever-curious companion, Bailey. Together, we’ll keep trying to walk more lightly on this Earth.
What are some of your favorite tips for eco-friendly pet parenting? Do share them with me in the comments below!