A growing awareness of environmental issues has led many of us to change the way we eat, shop and live. However, research suggests that our four-legged friends also have a big part to play in helping to save the planet.
Studies show that pets consume 20 per cent of the world’s meat and fish, with pet food responsible for around a quarter of the environmental impact of meat production. The carbon pawprint of an average dog is around twice that of a 4×4 car!
Here are seven ways you can cut your pet’s carbon pawprint:
1. Choose recyclable pet food packaging
Most pet food packaging is not biodegradable or made from recycled materials. Consider changing to a sustainable pet food brand such as GooodUK.
GooodUK uses a ground-breaking recyclable packaging that keeps its dog food fresh. The outside box is made of FSC-certified recycled cardboard, which comes from recycled sources of wood from responsible forestry. The company offsets the carbon dioxide it releases during production by planting new trees.
2. Choose a carbon positive pet insurer
Go further than the carbon pawprint of your pet by choosing an insurance provider that prioritises the environment. Agria Pet Insurance recently became the first UK pet insurer to become carbon positive. Agria, which has insured 1.7 million pets, supports more 500 UK charities with fundraising, protects around 100,000 rescue pets in the UK, and has donated over £1 million to animal charities.
3. Use sustainable poo bags
Reduce plastic waste by using biodegradable poo bags. Beco Pets makes large, extra-strong poo bags that are home compostable and either unscented or mint scented. They fit all standard bag dispensers. Alternatively, use a ‘pooper scooper’ and bury the poo.
4. Avoid “human-grade” pet food
So-called “human-grade” pet foods could carry a high price for the environment – and they aren’t necessarily what your pet needs.
Pet foods made with by-products (the highly nutritious parts of cows, chickens and other animals that humans prefer not to eat) are more sustainable than those made purely from human-grade ingredients. They use animal parts that might otherwise be dumped in landfills, where they could emit tons of carbon dioxide and methane. Not only do by-products taste great to your pet, they provide all the nourishment it needs.
Yora, a sustainable pet-food brand aimed at helping owners make their pets more eco-friendly, sells a dry kibble for dogs created from larvae of the Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia Illucens) combined with UK-grown oats, potatoes and herbs.
Around 40 per cent of the protein in each pack comes from insects. The larvae are harvested “humanely” by protein nutrient company Protix in the Netherlands.
You could even make your own pet food using locally grown veggies; ask your vet for help to create a recipe of ingredients (protein—preferably a beef alternative, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins) that meet your pet’s needs.
5. Choose natural cat litter
Most brands of cat litter are not biodegradable or renewable. And, because landfills are packed so tightly, even those that are don’t get enough oxygen to break down.
Cat litter is commonly made up of bentonite clay, which is mined, or silica gel crystals which come from sand. Both sound ‘natural’ enough but neither is renewable, and extraction of both impacts the environment. These litters could also cause health problems if regularly licked off paws, as they can swell to up to 15 times their original size in your cat’s stomach.
Sustainable brand Nature’s Calling produces cat litter made from the reclaimed lining of walnut shells. It’s 100 per cent natural, biodegradable and even flushable. Maizy cat litter, made from 100 per cent puffed corn kernels, is biodegradable and free from perfumes and additives.
Alternatively, you could make your own cat litter from wood shavings and save money too.
6. Choose biodegradable pet toys and bowls
Most pet toys and bowls are made from plastic and/or synthetic materials that cannot be recycled. Beco Pets sells a recyclable bamboo dog bowl that will last for years in the home before breaking down once it is disposed of. It also makes a soft toy for dogs with a squeaker that is made from roughly 15 upcycled plastic bottles. Green & Wild has also produced a range of pet toys made from sustainable jute, a natural plant fibre.
7. Avoid toxic flea treatment
The chemicals in flea and pest control products can be “highly hazardous” to humans. The Little Soap Company has created an organic soap bar that naturally repels fleas and is totally free from detergents, parabens and preservatives.