9 Ways to Be More Sustainable With Your Dog
Written by Kristian Porter
When it comes to our impact on the planet, it's hard to ignore how big an environmental footprint our pets can make. According to a 2017 research article written by Gregory S. Orkin and published by PLOS ONE, dogs and cats "produce about 30%, by mass, as much feces as Americans, and through their diet, constitute about 25–30% of the environmental impacts from animal production in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuel, phosphate, and biocides. Dog and cat animal product consumption is responsible for the release of up to 64 million tons CO2-equivalent methane and nitrous oxide, two powerful greenhouse gasses (GHGs)."
So how how do we reduce our pup's carbon emissions and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle? Read on to learn nine simple ways you can positively impact the environment with your dog.
1. Switch from Plastic Poop Bags
As a dog parent, picking up your dog's poop while on a walk may not be your favorite chore, but it is necessary. Not only are you helping to keep your neighborhood clean, but you're also helping to keep waste out of your local watershed, which has a massive positive impact on your local environment. When left to its own devices, your pet's waste ends up in your lakes, streams, and rivers. Because of its nitrogen and phosphorus content, your dog's waste can lower oxygen levels in the water that the fish need to survive. It can also cause harmful algae to grow. So picking up your dog's poop is already a significant step toward being an eco-friendly dog parent!
Unfortunately, most pet waste bags are single-use plastics that fill up landfills and don't naturally decompose. Make the switch to biodegradable pet waste bags or ones made from recycled materials.
2. Choose Your Dog's Food Wisely
Our dogs' food is one of the most significant contributors to their high carbon footprint and a great place to make changes if you can.
One great way to make a difference is in the quality of your dog's food. Like with our diets, buying food produced locally, with high-quality ingredients and minimal packaging, is always a great way to go. Look for foods with ethically-sourced meats and certified sustainable fish. Another great ingredient is organ meats. Not only are they good for your dog, but those are parts that would typically be discarded for human consumption.
Buying your food in bulk is also a great option, if possible, because it reduces the amount of packaging and transporting needed. Cooking your food at home from fresh, preferably locally-sourced ingredients is another great option.
3. Limit your dog's meat intake
While most dogs love meat, they are actually omnivores—meaning they can eat plant-based diets and meat. According to Dr. Jennifer Coats in her article on PetMD, "The canine body has the ability to transform certain amino acids, the building blocks or protein, into others, meaning that dogs can get all the amino acids they need while avoiding meat." If your dog is used to eating meat for daily meals, what about treats? There are many vegetarian dog treat options on the marketplace, including, of course, the tasty peanut butter Hive Chew Sticks, Hive Chews, and Hive Training Treats. And if you want to go even further, look for Non-GMO Project Verified dog treats, which ensure your dog is not eating food from genetically-modified crops.
4. Shop Made-in-America Products
When you purchase anything for your dog, shopping from companies that manufacture their products in the United States decreases the distance a product must travel to get to you. Buying dog toys and treats from American-made companies reduces the fuel needed to ship the item and the corresponding carbon footprint. Whether dog-related or not, buying as regionally or locally as possible is always a great idea.
5. Recycle or Reuse Pet Product Packaging
Not all your dog's food containers will be recyclable, but you can recycle aluminum cans from your dog's canned. Many local communities also have drop-off facilities where you can take your dog's food or treat bags if they're made of plastic. Another great option is to reuse or repurpose packaging. There are many creative ways to reuse a dog food bag, for example, from creating a reusable grocery bag to upholstering pillows. It can be fun to get creative!
6. Spay or Neuter Your Dog
Spaying and neutering your pets has many health-related benefits, but it's also a more environmentally-conscious choice. Spaying and neutering your pets helps control the pet population, reducing the number of dogs in animal shelters. The fewer homeless pets there are, the fewer resources the animal shelters will need to use to help rescue, rehabilitate, and generally care for these dogs.That means less waste, less fuel used to transport the pets, and less energy used to create new products and food to keep up with demand.
7. Use Natural Cleaning Products
Having a dog in your home means many surfaces you need to clean. From scrubbing muddy paw prints off of your floors to washing your dog in the bath, you need a variety of products to clean all of these surfaces effectively.
Many common cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that pollute your local waterways, affect wildlife, and can even affect your air quality. Not only that, but these harsh chemicals can have adverse side effects for you, like skin and eye irritation. That means they can be harmful to your dog as well.
Choose green cleaning products made from all-natural ingredients. Not only will these be better for the environment, but they're safer to use around your pet. Pay attention to personal care products as well, as many dog shampoos can contain harmful ingredients.
8. DIY or Upcycle Household Objects into Enrichment Activities for Your Dog
One of the best ways to positively impact the environment is to reuse items you already have instead of buying new ones. You can turn many household items into fun activities for your dog.
You can practice sniff work with old kitchen towels and cardboard boxes or create your own food puzzle from a muffin tin and a few of your dog's toys. You can even opt for enrichment activities that require nothing at all except for you, your dog, and maybe a toy or treat or two. Play a hide-and-seek game, or teach your dog a new trick! Having fun with your dog doesn't have to mean purchasing a new toy. With a bit of creativity, you can create fun memories and have a positive impact on the environment at the same time.
9. Shop Environmentally Conscious Pet Businesses
When purchasing your dog a new toy or treat, choose the companies you buy from carefully. Do research into their manufacturing practices and their own sustainability efforts, and use your dollars to support companies that are helping to make a difference, just like you. While no manufacturing can ever truly be "sustainable," many businesses are trying to reduce their negative impact on the environment and create change in the world.
Dog Toys and Treats with a Positive Impact
At Project Hive Pet Company, we're dedicated to making the impact that we do have on the environment as positive as possible. We make all our products in the USA, limit our packaging, and operate a climate-neutral organization.