Updated: Mar 28
As we look for ways to combat climate change on both the individual and global scale, as pet parents, we might also start thinking about more sustainable steps we can take when it comes to taking good care of our pets.
"I’m loving seeing how the future of pet care is moving towards a more sustainable, modern way of life," said Dr. Stephanie Austin, on the latest episode of the Mella Moment.
There, she also shares helpful tips for traveling responsibly with our pets, especially on airlines, reminds us of the importance of being early and prepared, and recommends helpful resources online. We’d highly recommend checking it out, especially as traveling begins to ramp up for the spring and summer!
But what exactly does sustainable pet care look like, and how can we help reduce our pets’ carbon footprints (or pawprints—see what we did there)?
Reexamining where we get food for our pets is a great place to start. Most pet food is meat-based, which takes significant amounts of resources both to produce and to process, resulting in greenhouse gas emissions that further exacerbate climate change. As much as 25% of the meat industry is devoted to pet food, and not all of this food is ethically sourced, either, so it’s important to hold companies accountable for their actions and to always do your research before making a purchase.
Experts are still studying the health impacts on pets when switching to alternative diets, like vegan or plant-based diets, but there are also other pet food brands that use animal products with lower carbon footprints than traditional pet food or even other protein sources like insects that are worth checking out.
Second, there are also lots of sustainably made pet toys and accessories that are available on the market. Rather than rely on synthetic or plastic toys that take hundreds of years to decompose in the environment, pet parents are increasingly turning to more eco-friendly products made from natural materials like bamboo and cotton, or to ones that are made from recycled materials. DIY projects can also be a really fun way to make new accessories for your pet if you’re feeling more hands-on!
Finally, waste disposal is another area that’s important to pay attention to. First, disposing the waste properly is critical, since in large enough amounts, it could contaminate groundwater supply with pathogens or nutrients. Picking up after your pet is simple, and to be even more eco-friendly, consider using biodegradable poop bags to do so, since these bags can decompose relatively easily compared to plastic. As for the indoors, cat owners can also look into the kinds of ingredients litter brands are using in their product, and switch to ones made with plant-based, biodegradable materials.
Ultimately, our pets’ health affects our health, and we can take steps towards building the sustainable world we want to live in by examining how our everyday actions might impact the environment. It’s a twofold relationship: "taking care of animals of the world takes care of the world," Dr. Austin said.
References and related reading: