Greening and sustainability are words we hear every day. Recycle this. Reuse that. Don’t use so much of it. These words and practices have their place in our lives and will help to propagate our lives in a healthier manner. But, what about our pets? They aren’t people, but they are family members and as such, should carry their weight in our environmental awareness. Because nutrition is required by all types of pets, food is the first item we consider when taking a natural or organic stances towards sustainability. Reduced processing, no antibiotics, no preservatives, non-toxic, and no engineered ingredients all define organic agriculture. People food, that which is certified organic, is approved by the USDA. So is pet food. Therefore, serving your pets natural or organic foods benefits them due to the removal of these same contaminants. Because of our love for our furry friends and our strong desire to spend as much of our lives with them, simply remember when choosing your pet food; if it appears good for us, it’s probably good for them.
The second most notable reason for pet greening is understandably, #2. Since 10 million tons of American pet feces end up in either landfills or water table annually, pet poo has become a growing problem. There are a few ways to dispose of man’s best friend’s mess that reduce landfill content and don’t impact our water table. Option1 is to hire a green poo removal and disposal company to keep your yard ready for bare-footing without contaminating our environment. Using biodegradable bags, but not biodegradable plastic bags, to retrieve the mess from your yard and public areas is Option 2. These bags can be used in the same fashion as typical plastic bags for pet poop collection. As a side note, there are arguments that plastic bags actually take up a very insignificant amount of landfill space (less than 7% by weight). Keeping that in mind, grocery store plastic bags and biodegradable ones (not biodegradable plastic bags) have their positive and negative attributes for you to consider. Bags help with removing solid pet waste, but urine can take it’s toll on your lawn. Check out sprays containing natural enzymes which breakdown urine, and coloring which covers the brown spots with a people/pet safe, biodegradable green coloring. The color provides you with an opportunity to reseed that patch while the enzymes work without giving away the troubled spot to guests or neighbors.
Cats require more consideration and thought when dealing with their poo removal. Clumping cat litter provides us with a simple convenience of cleaning the cat box in a short period of time. What we don’t think about is the silica in the clay that clouds the air during and after the sifting. Silica can cause health issues for your kitty, not to mention indoor air contamination which impacts your health. Additionally, clumping litter contains sodium bentonite (clumping agent) and is known for causing feline intestinal poisoning. With repeated treading through the litter and subsequent self-cleaning, this clumping agent, which causes urine clumps to swell as much as 15-20 times the original size, can clog kitty’s insides. There are litter products already on the shelves that remove those health concerns, such as 100% southern pine litter which produces no dust or tracking outside of the box. This litter contains the natural pine scent from the wood source and is manufactured using wood by-products. Another option is corn litter, while a third option is newspaper pellets. All three are compostible and are created from sustainable, recycled resources. And then there’s the odor control required when using a litter box. Cat box odor control products typically come in the form of trigger sprays or powders produced from natural enzymes, water or baking soda and natural fragrance. These products are safe for your feline friend out of the box. One point to consider is sprays and powders can introduce properties into your indoor air which could affect those with breathing concerns.
As pet lovers are quite aware, these companions need attention and exercise. Who hasn’t seen a boy throwing a tennis ball to his Golden Retriever and having the grateful dog return it to his feet? With so many toys on the market, it can be confusing as to which toys were created from green resources. To simplify the hunt, look for toys made from recycled materials or sustainable fibers. Hemp collars are a step in the right direction. Pet beds can be manufactured from organic cotton or even recycled PET bottles (polyethylene terephthalate). You can even try growing cat nip or purchase the organic herb.
The final point that worries pet owners is cleaning; everything from carpets, furniture and the pets themselves. It would seem common sense to use cleansers without toxic ingredients, but chemistry doesn’t lend itself well in the naming of these ingredients. Therefore, look for cleansers containing food grade enzymes and if desired, natural fragrances such as mint or cinnamon. Stain removers, with or without deodorizers, should also contain food grade enzymes and be 100% biodegradable, non-toxic and non-flammable. These will prove safe for your carpet and furniture and, more importantly, Binky’s skin. In line with keeping your home clean and fresh, dogs and cats need bathing. More and more, natural and organic pet shampoos and soaps are appearing on store shelves. Those made from products you would consider bathing with, such as coconut oil, various herbs, citrus seed, Vitamins A, C and E, will benefit your companion’s skin just as they would yours.
Following the green path with your furry friends shows your pets that you are willing to pamper them with the same quality of life as your own. Because there are several products in each of these categories, pet owners have the opportunity to explore the products that provide the quality and level of green participation they wish to immerse themselves in. Just as important, each of these practices directly impacts your pets’ existence, which increases joy in your existence, and perpetuates a healthy environment and existence for us all.
For more information about greening your pets, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org