It’s easy to think of things to do in our human lives in order to go green and work to leave the earth in the best shape possible for future human and animal generations. You may have a recycling bin by your trash can or maybe you bring your own bags when you go shopping. But, have you ever thought about how you can help your dog go green?
First, what is your dog’s ecological paw print? An ecological footprint is the effect your dog has on the environment. Specifically, the demands he has on global natural resources. The goal is to live in a sustainable loop where everything taken from the Earth is returned to it.
You can help your dog attain this goal by using our “get-green” tips.
Go natural with flea, tick, shampoo and cleaning products
Cut back on water-wasting dog baths by using dog bathing products that use less water, like dry shampoo and wipes. Use products with natural ingredients for health and beauty. For example, the founder of Spina Organics, a company that makes pet-care grooming products, uses the antifungal and antibacterial benefits in plants to produce a clean product that is vegan and all-natural.
Embrace the natural predators of fleas in your yard. Snakes, ants, beetles, spiders, frogs and lizards all snack on them. Nematodes can be purchased online or at a local garden store. They are deadly to flea pupae and larvae. Even fossil organisms can help. Diatomaceous earth absorbs into insects with an exoskeleton and causes them to dry out and die.
For cleaning up after your pup: Use eco-friendly cleaners and reusable rags instead of paper towels.
Look for products that contain pet- and earth-friendly ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and lemon. If your dog drinks from the toilet or licks anything or everything off the floor, you need to have natural cleaners that are safe for your pet to digest in small quantities.
Try using a cup of white vinegar as a toilet bowl cleaner. Let it sit for 10 minutes then scrub as usual. A spray bottle filled with equal parts white vinegar and water is a good all-purpose cleanser. A mixture of equal parts warm water, white vinegar and a couple tablespoons of baking powder makes a great carpet cleaner for where a pup had an accident. Spot test any homemade or store-bought cleaner to make sure it won’t harm or fade the specific surface you are using it on.
Get informed on poop bags and composting
Some believe the most earth-friendly thing to do with their dog’s poop is to leave it where it has been plopped. This isn’t the case. Animal waste can contain harmful organisms (Salmonella and E. coli, for example) that can make other animals sick or contaminate the waterways. Luckily there are some things you can do to make picking up after your dog more environmentally sound.
- Flush the poop. For daintier droppings, pick up with toilet paper and flush down the toilet.
- Use compostable dog poop bags. The EPA requires “compostable” plastic to be broken down by composting treatments found at commercial or industrial composting facilities. Look for bags that meet the “ASTM D6400”
- Do yard composting. There are products on the market that will help you safely compost your dog’s poop.
- Try a resuable and washable dog poop bag. Yes, they exist.
- Check out reusable and washable pee pads. Yup, they exist, too.
Support environmentally positive impact companies
Visit petsustainability.org to find pet companies that strive to support the nonprofit mission of advancing business through profitable environmental and social practices. Cardinal Pet Care, a founding member of the Pet Sustainability Coalition, offers eco-friendly grooming products, first-aid items and treats. It was one of the first in the pet industry to convert its buildings to solar power. The company also provides free car-charging stations for its employees and chooses to work with certified vendors and suppliers that are also committed to sustainable work practices.
Tom Wien, VP of Marketing at Cardinal Pet Care says, “There are numerous case studies that demonstrate that companies that operate with sustainability in mind financially outperform their competitors that operate without a sense of sustainability. Part of the success of sustainably minded companies stems from the competitive advantage. As more consumers demand socially responsible companies, they are also choosing to vote with their wallet as well as their voices.”
Tom adds that it’s not just consumers who are making values-driven decisions about products and businesses. Nine out of 10 prospective employees said they would choose a company whose values align with their own over a job that pays a higher salary, according to a survey by insurer MetLife.
Pure and Natural Pet, a company that makes and sells a large range of grooming products and is also a member of the Pet Sustainability Coalition and Organic Trade Association, has an entire page on its website reviewing its sustainability as a company. Like Pure and Natural Pet, see if the company has a corporate recycling program, locally sourced materials, is part of green-driven associations and gives back to earth-friendly initiatives.
Pure and Natural Pet also uses organic farmers that practice and partner with eco-friendly companies. The company believes that as its ingredients come from the Earth, it makes sure its products are not harmful to the Earth.
Tavor White, founder and CEO of Chews Happiness, says ”Because we love the environment and we love dogs — and we’re fairly certain dogs love the environment as much as we do — we’re serious about our sustainable business practices.
Chews Happiness, creators of the Barkaron Decadent Doggie Dessert, artisanal handwoven collars and leashes, handcrafted apparel and dog toys, sources its ingredients from free-range or organic sources (or effectively organic when organic is not available). The company partners with indigenous herders and artisans, who maintain traditional lifestyles, keeping their carbon footprint low. This is in keeping with the company mission to support low carbon-footprint lifestlyes. The company also supports small farmers, beekeeper and women’s cooperatives, small dairy farmers, and yak herders in Bhutan. The company uses eco-friendly packaging, and the dog treats are made in Bhutan, a carbon-negative country. These are just some of the company’s eco-friendly highlights.
David Yaskulka, CEO of Nature’s Logic says, “Pet food company Nature’s Logic’s mission is to apply the logic of nature to everything we touch, which means creating all-natural nutrition for pets from whole foods and being a voice for sustainability. Our pet food line is 100% natural with no synthetic vitamins.”
Through the company’s Better Food, Better Energy program, for every pound of food it sells, the company buys 1 kWh of renewable electricity to help power the future. “Our headquarters is powered by and all of our bags and kibble are manufactured using 100% renewable electricity,” David says. “We’re introducing seafood certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), and our newest product is the first in the industry with Certified Plastic Neutral packaging!”
Invest in products that last
One way of keeping items out of the landfill is by purchasing products built to last versus disposable items or those that need to be replaced frequently. For example, Andis, a grooming products company, doesn’t just create quality products allowing the user to keep their tools for several years, they also offer industry-leading tool repairs and blade sharpening services to extend the life of the products they sell even longer.
Recycle, Reuse and Reduce
When considering your dog’s or your environmental footprint, follow the three Rs.
- Limit packaging waste by bringing your own bags to purchase bulk treats at the pet store.
- Wash and pass along gently used items like dog beds, blankets, towels and toys to a friend or local animal charity.
- See if your vet and your dog’s insurance company have a “go-paperless” option.
- Talk to your vet on what “food scraps” you can safely feed your dog. Parts of certain vegetables or bone broth made from the carcass of tonight’s dinner, for example.
- Reduce overpopulation by getting your dog spayed or neutered, and support your local humane society or shelter.
I like to think about the phrase someone once said, “We did not inherit our future from our ancestors, we have borrowed it from our children.” By incorporating these tips into your dog parent daily routine, you are making the world a greener, healthier place for both future human children and furry children.
Top photograph: RossHelen | Getty Image