For a long time, people assumed that large industries were the leading cause of environmental damage. Although this is true to an extent, our purchasing habits significantly impact the environment, which crosses over into what we purchase for our furry friends.
The concept of sustainability is gaining momentum and, at times, can be confusing. Consumers barraged with too much information can have difficulty discerning what is accurate.
That’s why we wanted to give you an understanding of what it takes to lower your dog’s carbon footprint as much as possible so you can become a sustainable dog owner.
What is sustainability?
Sustainability essentially means utilizing natural resources from the environment in a way that does not deplete them long-term, and the process does not affect others. Our actions impact the environment; therefore, we should leave a positive one, and there are ways you can do that as a dog owner.
Making an effort to find good food sources for your dog can go a long way towards sustainability. Study the ingredients and methods used to prepare the food. Do they have a positive impact on the environment?
Packaging is also important to consider. In the United Kingdom, 170 million tons of waste are produced, most of which stems from food packaging. As a dog owner, you can help protect the environment by finding natural and healthy dog food in reusable or recyclable packaging.
The backstory behind the food is essential as well. For example, if your dog consumes a meal containing fish, you might want to think of the farming or fishing process. Is it sustainable? While you might not get an accurate answer to this question, it is still good to be conscious that some dog food manufacturers might not have sustainable mechanisms. Hence the reason you should get your dog food from a verified source. For example, look out for certified fish recipes under the Marine Stewardship Council, a body that standardizes sustainable fishing.
Another aspect to look into is the transportation of your dog food. If your dog food is shipped from abroad or travels long before it gets to you, you might want to get a nearby source. As the travel distance increases, there is a likelihood of the carbon footprint of the dog food going up from the vehicles used or even the ships used if your dog food comes from abroad.
Regarding carbon footprint, dogs love fresh meat, but meat sources might not be environmentally friendly. Animal sources such as beef have a high carbon footprint which stems from the methane released during manure management. This is why many companies use chicken or wild boar as it is free-roaming.
First, as a dog owner, you must pick up after your dog. Keeping the toxic poop from getting into the park’s soil is crucial. Failure to do so poses health consequences and leaves parks or paths messy if you are being responsible and picking up after your dog, then good job!
You could go the extra mile and think of ways to do the job sustainably. This is where compostable poop bags come in, becoming a game-changer in environmental sustainability. If you compost at home, that can be a way to have a home compost; they can be a great way to get rid of your dog’s poop. Preparing a compost heap is not overly complicated. Over time, this will decompose without leaving any mess or damage to the environment.
If you are disposing of your dog’s poop in a park bin, that’s all good but use a bag made of post-consumer recycled plastic. The bags have a lower carbon footprint and still perform healthily and hygienically.
Biodegradable or compostable poop bags do a great job of minimizing plastic waste by aligning with two of the three Rs of Waste Management — reduce, reuse, and recycle. Reduce plastic waste, then reuse the poop by adding it to a compost heap to feed the soil.
Toys and accessories
We get it! Sometimes your furry friend needs some cool and durable toys, especially if your dog can get rough. But the dog toys you use can also be sustainable, made from recycled materials, and preserve natural resources.
Getting your dog toys made from recycled plastic significantly minimizes plastic waste in landfills or oceans.
Many plastic toys give recycled materials a second life when they collect and repurpose them as recycled toys. The cloth puts a barrier between the dog and the plastic, protecting their teeth from harm.
You can also get great toys made from plants. We have been talking about sustainability; therefore, manufacturers should be responsible when sourcing plants. Hemp is an excellent plant because it’s very dense, and we are unlikely to run out of hemp.
It does not consume as much arable land, making it environmentally efficient and flourishing without pesticides. Hemp requires little water to thrive, and the plant returns a lot of nutrients to the soil. Pet companies can now source tough fibers from hemp to make hemp ropes that your dog can play with, and they act as a natural toothbrush for your dog. Hemp also sheds shorter fibers which quickly pass through the system when ingested. We, however, still recommend supervising your dog during playtime with a rope.
Natural rubber toys
Natural rubber is also a great alternative as it does not involve cutting down trees. It is made by tapping rubber trees for latex. This type of rubber does not leave any harmful chemicals in your furry friend, unlike standard rubber toys, which are toxic for your dog. It also has the bonus of being soft, so it is not going to do any damage to your dog’s teeth.
Bamboo grows swiftly compared to other plants and absorbs more carbon dioxide than most trees due to the high photosynthesis rate. This grass species grows 30× faster than trees and produces 30× more oxygen. On top of it being biodegradable, bamboo is solid, and it is often used to make accessories such as dog bowls or scoops. Bamboo can be blended with rice husks and compostable cornstarch making it as challenging as plastic.
Take action to become a sustainable dog owner
Hopefully, this gives you some ideas you can implement to be a sustainable dog owner. While it can be difficult to track everything and ensure it is sustainable, a little effort counts. It may seem small, but could you imagine if the 10 million dog owners in the U.K. used recyclable packaging or did at least one sustainable thing, it would pay off, right?
So we challenge you to do at least one thing that will make the environment a better place.