April 23, 2015
Here at Rover-Time, we have a few ideas we’ve put together that you can do with your pets to recognize and celebrate Earth Day.
Adopt from a shelter and get your pet spayed or neutered. The overpopulation of dogs and cats, due in part to irresponsible breeding practices, requires increasingly more resources to house those animals in shelters. High numbers of homeless animals puts a strain on the local ecosystem as they are forced to hunt birds and other wildlife outdoors to survive. Keep your cats indoors and your dogs on leash. Housecats account for the death of a huge number of songbirds, which disrupts the ecosystem. Dogs are natural predators and are liable to chase and kill all kinds of rodents or small animals.
Pick up the poop! There are potentially numerous strains of bacteria and viruses in your dog’s poo. If not picked up, they are liable to get washed into the water treatment system and back into nature. Cleaning after your dog also provides for a more habitable environment for us all.
Use biodegradable bags. Rather than entombing the poop in plastic for generations to come, biodegradable bags allow the contents to decompose, as they naturally would, in a matter of weeks.
Avoid disposable pet supplies. Disposable paw wipes or rubber booties may seem like an convenient way to deal with inclement weather; however, the energy required to manufacture and ship these items for one-time-use is wasteful. Keep a towel by the door for wiping off paws and get better-quality reusable boots to keep their paws safe from the ice.
Do you have a box of old blankets or towels? Extra supplies or gear for your pet that don’t get used? Donate them to your local shelter! They will be put to good (re)use and will help the animals there get a better chance for a great life.
Research eco-friendly pet supplies. Most pet stores will carry a variety of products that are better for the environment. In addition to bags, there are biodegradable training pads for your puppy or elderly dog. Dog shampoos and cleaning supplies come in nontoxic varieties that will leave your pet and home fresh and safe. Companies are now manufacturing leashes, collars, and toys from hemp, bamboo and other renewable resources, and from recycled plastic, which are both fun and earth-friendly.
Change your litter. Kitty litter is now being manufactured from a number of eco-friendly sources, including wheat grains and recycled newspapers. Typical clay-based kitty litter is strip mined from the earth, which is damaging in its own right, and then disposed of in a landfill where it cannot decompose. Naturally sourced kitty litter has a lower impact on the environment and will go back into the earth after use.
Buy natural and organic pet food, and buy in bulk. Pet food comes from farms and ranches, just like people food. Organic farming–free of antibiotics, pesticides, and herbicides–is less harmful to the ecosystems on land and in water. Natural ingredients take less energy to produce than artificial ones. Purchasing the larger size can or bag of food usually come at a lower price, and also result in less waste. Better yet, supplement your pet’s diet with local produce which takes less energy to transport and supports your local economy. Even if your dog doesn’t like veggies, your lizard, bird, or rodent will love them!
Reuse your dog or cat’s drinking water. When refreshing the bowl, instead of dumping it down the drain and into the sewer, use it to water your houseplants or garden. The plants won’t mind a little backwash!
Turn off the TV. It may be tempting to leave the TV and lights on to keep your pet company while you are away; however this is a drain on electricity, and chances are your dog or cat is sleeping the day away anyways. If your pet gets nervous during storms or with the various sounds of living in the city, a white-noise machine or small radio will use much less energy than your TV and will calm your pet just the same.
As a conscientious pet owner, it is your job to make decisions on behalf of your pets. If they could take these steps to help the environment, they would! We hope that some of these ideas resonate with you and can be incorporated into your daily routines for the betterment of the Earth.
Nick manages our dog walking team at Rover-Time. He lives with his wife in Albany Park and together they share one Australian cattle dog mix named Squirrely, a parakeet named Pierre, and two cats who were originally feral but later came to live inside and become socialized.