There are many ways to be a responsible pet parent. Give your pet protection and love and keep them mentally stimulated. Make sure they are well-trained and respectful around other humans. And of course, maintain regular vet visits and follow your vet’s advice to keep them healthy.
Another way to be a responsible pet parent is to be an environmentally responsible pet parent. Pets, like people, can have their own environmental footprint. It’s a good idea to reflect on what kind of habits you have around pet care, and see if there are simple changes you can make to be more eco-conscious.
Tips for Eco-Friendly Pet Parenting:
1. Eco-Friendly Playtime
If your home is like many pet parents’ it’s littered with toys. But, are they toys that will one day become litter in a landfill themselves? Next time you go to replace a favorite rope or stuffed animal, think about what you already have around the house that you could recycle instead of buying something new. Some ideas:
Eco-Friendly Dogs Toys:
- Play tug-of-war with old T-shirts tied into knots
- Cut up strips of fabric and weave them to create a labyrinth for hidden treats (1)
- Pass down retired tennis balls for fetch (check the local tennis court!)
- Hide treats inside old toilet rolls
Eco-Friendly Cat Toys:
- Create a scratching post out of stacked, cut cardboard (3)
- Cut up little pieces of fabric or fleece and tie them to a shoelace or string to make a pom pom toy (4)
- Roll up a ball of used foil for batting around
Of course, make sure anything you “DIY” for your pet doesn’t pose a choking hazard or contain toxins. It’s a good idea to monitor pets when they play with new toys, just to make sure they aren’t at risk of tearing up and swallowing any parts of them.
And if you simply can’t find anything around the house, shop for new toys made out of post consumer items. Chewy has a whole section of toys made of recycled materials.
2. Eco-Friendly Pet Food
Consider how much packaging you go through with your pet food. Buying in bulk or finding a vendor where you can purchase loose food and put it in your own refillable container can save a lot of bags, boxes, and cans.
You can also consider making your pet’s food and treats at home and just storing in large batches in your kitchen containers. There are plenty of DIY recipes for dog food (and check out our DIY treat ideas), and, of course, ask your vet for their recommendation.
3. Eco-Friendly Potty Breaks
If you’re picking up after your dog two times a day, you’re using somewhere around 730 disposable poop bags a year. Regular plastic poop bags can take hundreds of years to biodegrade (2), and their contents won’t be able to compost naturally within those bags, either. Consider changing your poop-picking up habits to one of these greener options:
- Bury the poop well below the ground's surface if you live somewhere where you have enough land and space to do so respectfully.
- Switch to biodegradable plant-based bags
- Switch to flushable bags that break down in water
- Compost the poop (but keep the waste compost separate from any compost you use in your garden)
Cat parents, you can also find compostable cat litters that are made of more eco-friendly materials like sawdust and leaves.
Pets eat, play, and potty every day, so making simple changes in these three areas can add up to make a difference. Make the swaps fun for you and your pet, and you’ll be on your way to being a more environmentally responsible pet parent in no time.
And don’t forget the other ways to be a responsible pet parent: keep those pets exercised, loved, and healthy! Check out a SPOT Pet Insurance plan to help keep them healthy.