Pet ownership is an important part of many people’s lives in the UK, but how can you do it sustainably? Here, our guest blogger Scott Hawthorne from SkipsandBins.com shows you how to reduce your pet’s carbon pawprint so you and your four-legged friend can be as eco-friendly as possible.
According to figures from Statista, over half of households in the UK owned a pet during 2020/2021, with the majority of pet owners choosing to add a dog to the family. Having a pet is a fun addition to any household, and they are fantastic companions for children and adults alike. However, having a pet can make a big impact on your carbon footprint.
Both dogs and cats eat meat-based food, and dogs, in particular, produce a lot of waste, which people mostly dispose of using plastic poop bags. But there are plenty of things that you can do to ensure that your pet’s carbon pawprint is as low as possible. From making your own food to composting your pooch’s waste, we’ve thought of it all. So here are our key tips for reducing the environmental impact of your pet.
Make your own food and treats
The food that we give to our pets is one of the biggest reasons they add to our carbon footprint. Meat-based food being produced at scale creates a big environmental impact, and according to this Science Focus article can mean that owning a medium-sized dog produces the same amount of emissions as owning an SUV. However, they do note that herbivore animals such as rabbits, gerbils, and guinea pigs have a much smaller carbon pawprint.
You can reduce this impact by making your own food and treats. There are many recipes available online, and in many cases, this is also healthier for your pet, as they will be eating fresh ingredients rather than processed food. Try out making your own treats for your four-legged friend, but make sure to check any recipes with a vet if you are unsure if the ingredients are suitable for your pet. You can try this recipe for peanut butter and pumpkin dog treats, and these wholewheat peanut butter treats. Remember to use xylitol-free peanut butter, as xylitol is toxic to dogs.
Eco-friendly and homemade toys
It’s easy to fill up your home with plastic dog or cat toys, and it’s tempting to buy your pet more and more things to play with. But these plastics will have to go to the landfill eventually, as they are not biodegradable. So, instead of buying plastic toys, try to look for sustainable and eco-conscious companies that might be using innovative materials, such as natural or biodegradable rubber and cotton rope. Good choices include a rope log made from recycled t-shirts and a natural rubber treat ball. These toys will keep your pooch occupied, as well as being kind to the planet.
You can also make your own toys, or reuse things that you don’t need anymore. Many cats are happy to play with boxes, and many dogs enjoy old tennis balls that you might not be using for your games anymore. Reusing objects like this can make your household, and your pet ownership, much more eco-friendly.
Compostable waste options
You might not be aware that you can actually buy compostable options for disposing of your dog’s poop. This is an important part of becoming more sustainable because if you collect your dog’s business (as you should), it will end up in a landfill wrapped in plastic while failing to collect it will mean it contaminates groundwater. So, what can you do?
You can compost the dog poop in your garden and turn it into fertiliser for your plants. But dog poop does need some treatment in order to compost successfully, so it’s easiest to buy a dog poo composting kit so you have everything you need. The composter can be buried in your garden, and you can easily dispose of the poop at the end of a walk. Collecting it in compostable poop bags throughout your walk will ensure that you don’t even need to use single-use plastics.
You can also recycle wet food pouches now, in a scheme pioneered by Terracycle in the UK. You can post the pouches to them, or drop them off at one of their designated locations at Pets At Home or Vets4Pets outlets.
Reduce car use
While cats tend to be left to find their own exercise routes, dogs need to be taken for walks regularly. Walks are a great way for you and your four-legged friend to get outdoors, but driving somewhere before you go for a walk increases your carbon footprint, as your vehicle releases emissions. A way of making these outings more eco-friendly is to stay in your local community for your daily walks. Go to the local park, or walk to some woodland or fields, rather than getting in the car and travelling somewhere.
This can also help you discover lots of lovely nature spots near to where you live, and you might even make some new canine and human friends along the way! There may be dog walking groups or walking clubs in your area, so these can be good ways to find new routes and socialise too.
Buy things made to last
A small change that can make a big difference to the planet is simply purchasing high-quality products that are built to last. This will mean you’ll replace items less frequently and get more use out of your belongings. When choosing toys, food and water bowls, collars, leads, and other accessories, keep in mind how durable they are, and buy the best quality available.
As well as being good for the planet, this will be more convenient as you won’t have to worry about replacing things after a few months when they wear out — which is a bonus for any busy pet owner!
Buying items made from a sustainable material like bamboo fibre can make your pet products more sustainable. For example, this slow feed bowl is a great option for those looking to explore bamboo fire, and also prevents indigestion.
So, there are lots of ways that you can own a pet and be more sustainable. If you are a dog owner, finding a compostable waste solution can be a great option, and all other pet owners can look into making their own food and buying more durable and sustainable products. This way, you can enjoy your time with your beloved pets, while knowing their carbon pawprint is as low as possible.