Environmental protection matters to me, and this year I am extending my “go green” attitude to include our dogs. For starters, I need to reconsider how I am disposing of doggy poop. Currently I use plastic grocery bags to pick up after our dogs. That means using plastic shopping bags instead of cloth. And those plastic poop bags end up in the regular garbage where they can take up to 400 years to degrade.
Not picking up the poop is never a good option, either. According to environmental experts rainstorms wash the waste into sewers where it can eventually find its way into rivers and beaches. It’s also a health hazard to leave dog waste laying around your yard, and it’s disrespectful to neighbors not to pick up after your dog in the neighborhood or community parks. Not to mention, in many communities you’re breaking the law by not cleaning up after your dog.
Pooper Scooper Options for Dog Parents
With more and more people seeking out green products, the pet industry is working hard to provide options. The Westminster Pet company offers Ruffin’ It, 100 percent biodegradable pet waste bags with a dispenser and refill pack. This product is certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute. In addition, the materials used to make the bags are from renewable, sustainable sources of agricultural origin resulting in less greenhouse gas emissions.
If you prefer to steer clear of the landfill altogether, there’s a Doggie Dooley Toilet option. This product works like a miniature septic tank, utilizing enzyme and bacteria action to automatically reduce dog waste to a ground absorbing liquid. The container is made of durable plastic and is installed in the ground for dog waste disposal. Dog owners add digester powder and water occasionally to break down the waste.
Eco-Friendly Options for Cat Parents
Cat owners can also be more eco-friendly when it comes to their pets’ waste. Tree Hugger, an environmentally friendly arm of the Discovery Channel, recommends the Cat Genie. Instead of using commercially produced clumping litter that’s been proven bad for a cat’s health and bad for the environment, the CatGenie uses washable granules that look and feel like litter. This “cat toilet” requires a cold water connection, drainage, and electric power. The liquid waste drains while solid waste gets scooped and liquefied for safe and easy disposal down the drain. Water and cat-safe SaniSolution wash, scrub, and scour the granules and the interior of the litter box. A built-in dryer blows hot air through the granules to dry them completely so they are ready for the next use.
Families not looking for such a high-tech product might try eco-friendly litter options. Swheat Scoop, made from processed non-food grade wheat, is biodegradable and free of chemicals and fragrance. These pellets clump when wet so it’s still easy to scoop out the litter box. Several brands of kitty litter are now also made from recycled newspaper that’s absorbent and biodegradable.
Green Pet Accessories
And it doesn’t stop with waste disposal when it comes to the greening of your pets. Now there’s a huge range of eco-friendly pet clothing and accessories. The Westminster Pet Company offers a line of organic cotton collars and leashes. These accessories are made in the United States from 100 percent organic cotton that was grown in Africa without the use of pesticides and using earth-friendly dyes. The company also has a line of polyester collars and leashes that are made from recycled bottles and other plastics. These products not only help to keep our planet green by using less energy to create but they also keep harmful waste out of landfills.
For a whole selection of environmentally-friendly pet products ranging from organic food for hamsters and guinea pigs to recycled scratching posts for cats visit www.greatgreenpet.com.
Top Ten Green Pet Tips from Tree Hugger and Petfinder.com.
- Adopt from a shelter
Why buy when you can adopt one of the 70,000 puppies and kittens born every day in the United States? Love knows no pedigree. Check out Petfinder.com to find your perfect match.
- Spay or neuter your pet
We don’t need any more homeless animals than we already have. As a bonus, spaying and neutering helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives by eliminating the possibility of uterine, ovarian, and testicular cancer and decreasing the incidence of prostate disease.
- Rein in your pets; protect native wildlife
Always keep your dog on a leash when outside, and confine your feline indoors. Topped only perhaps by habitat destruction, cats are the biggest, bird killers of all time. That aside, two out of every three vets, according to the Humane Society of the United States, recommend keeping cats indoors, because of the dangers of cars, predators, disease and other hazards. The estimated average life span of a free-roaming cat is less than three years; an indoors-only cat gets to live an average of 15 to 18 years. If kitty needs to heed the call of the wild, an outdoor cat enclosure is a good compromise.
- Swap out the junk food
Most conventional pet-food brands you find at the supermarket consist of reconstituted animal by-products, otherwise known as low-grade wastes from the beef and poultry industries. Natural and organic pet foods use meats that are raised in sustainable, humane ways without added drugs or hormones, minimally processed and preserved with natural substances, such as vitamins C and E. Certified-organic pet foods must meet strict USDA standards that spell out how ingredients are produced and processed, which means no pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, artificial preservatives, artificial ingredients or genetically engineered ingredients.
- Clean up their poop
Scoop up your doggie doo in biodegradable poop bags. Cat owners should avoid clumping clay litter at all costs. Not only is clay strip-mined (bad for the planet), but the clay sediment is also permeated with carcinogenic silica dust that can coat kitty lungs. Plus, the sodium bentonite that acts as the clumping agent can poison your cat through chronic ingestion through their fastidious need to groom. Because sodium bentonite acts like expanding cement—it’s also used as a grouting, sealing, and plugging material—it can swell up to15 to18 times their dry size and clog up your cat’s insides. Eco-friendly cat litters avoid these problems.
- Give them sustainable goods
Pets will have just as much fun with toys made from recycled materials or sustainable fibers such as hemp. Owners can also find a wide selection of earth friendly leashes and collars as well as organic beds.
- Use natural pet-care and cleaning products
- Pets, not fads
Understand that a pet is a long-term commitment that involves demands on both time and money. Impulse buying for children is never a good idea. If a family is not prepared to make a long term commitment to a real live animal then a child is better off with a soft toy.
- Melt the ice, nicely
Use a child- and pet-safe deicer. Rock salt-based ice-melting products, which kids and animals might accidentally ingest, can cause health problems while also contaminating wells and drinking supplies.
- Tag your pet
It might be a stretch to call inserting an electronic ID chip into your pet an eco-friendly move, but losing your buddy causes extreme emotional distress. Then there’s the paper waste from printing out missing pet posters and the fuel cost of driving around your neighborhood trying to find your pet. Your veterinarian can provide more information on electronic chips. If using hanging tags look for those that are made from recycled aluminum or silver.