Week 15 - 7 ways to make your pet sustainable
So pets do come with a heavy environmental load. Now I am not, for one moment suggesting we should stop having pets. Over 80% of UK pet owners say there pets are part of the family and they provide them with companionship, exercise and teach younger family members about the responsibility of caring for others ... but there are steps you can take to reduce the impact your pet has on the environment.
7 ways to make pet ownership sustainable
1. Limit your pet numbers and have them neutered
2. Do not overfeed your pet
Knowing how much land it takes to supply the food for your pet it is important you don't overfeed them. 53% of US dogs are overweight thus putting unnecessary strain on limited resources and overweight pets are also likely to be less healthy and need more medication and treatments. If your pooch is a bit on the portly side do have a read of this blog post which shows you how to get your pet back in shape.
3. Buy second hand pet products
4. Keep pet toys to a minimum
So it is great fun seeing your pet play with a favourite toy but overall I bet each pet has one favourite toy and many other toys they have are simply ignored. Again look for second-hand toys or see what you have in the house. Please note though that if you give them old kid's toys do remove all sharp/hard objects first that could be chewed off and swallowed. Moo, our cat adores playing with corks (cider ones are best as they ping off in all directions) and she has had hours of fun raiding my box of shallots and playing with them. Saari in comparison thinks all toys are a waste of time, preferring instead an extra long walk.
5. Get your pet from a refuge
In the case of dogs, many puppy farms have appalling welfare standards and they are simply in the business of making money by producing as many puppies as possible. By getting a pet from a refuge you are giving an unwanted animal a much needed new and happy home.
6. Dealing with poop
This is one area where pet ownership really is not at all sustainable. Composting poop in your home compost bin is not recommended for health reasons and bagging and binning just moves the problem to landfill sites. So what options are there? One is to flush the poop down the toilet so it can be properly dealt with but do not flush bagged poop down as this can block up the system. So called green cone composters also exits which do allow for home composting of animal waste.
7. Pet Food
Not all pet food packaging is recyclable - cans, some paper sacks and tin trays are but sachets, plasticised bags and multi tins held together with plastic sleeves are not. Buying food in larger bags/cans also reduces the amount of packaging. In France, supermarkets sell fresh meat for your pets that is unsuitable for human consumption and this is better for the environment than expensive pets foods made from human grade food. Pets do not need super posh foods and dogs in particular can eat food which includes some cereals/vegetables, although cats, in comparison, can't digest non meat foods. That said if your cat suffers constipation, whilst there are medicines on the market, you can actually feed him courgette or pumpkin to solve the problem.
In a world where pet ownership is growing these small steps will go some way to reducing the environmental impact of our much loved pets. Ultimately the world pet population needs to stabilise, and then reduce. China, where pet ownership has increased dramatically, has introduced a one pet policy and governments around the world could do more to encourage lower pet ownership - licensing pets and reducing the numbers allowed per household may not be a popular move but having pets eat into limited global resources (literally) cannot continue unchecked for ever.
Do you have any other tips for reducing our pets' impact on the environment ... or do you think we should all be allowed as many pets as we want?