How Green is Your Pet’s Lifestyle?

Green is the topic of the day, and it is not just the green of our money. The polar ice cap is melting, sea levels are rising, and glaciers are retreating. Whether you’re watching television, listening to the radio, or eavesdropping on someone’s conversation, you can expect to hear words like organic, eco-friendly, and sustainable bandied about. People are going green, and living a green life style is not just for the human members of our families.

But what does “going green” mean? To some it boils down to the three ‘R’s: Reduce – finding ways to lessen the amount of trash we throw away; Reuse – finding ways to use things over and over again instead of throwing them away; Recycle – taking something old and turning it into something new. Things that are called echo-friendly are made with minimal or no effects on the environment. Organic products are grown and produced without chemicals or preservatives in a natural environment. These products are biodegradable and do not contain harmful pollutants.

It can all be a bit daunting and hard-core environmentalists can be intimidating. But every green choice we make can only help.
The first, easy green choice you can make is in the recycle category. Adopt a recycled pet. Visit a shelter or contact one of the many rescue groups when the time has come for you to expand your family.

Many communities are discouraging the use of plastic bags for carrying home groceries. And now we are also being discouraged from using them to pick up our pet waste. The plastic lingers in landfills for a long time, preserving it for future generations. Instead, use biodegradable pet waste bags.

The small company PetHabitats (www.pethabitats.com) helps environmentally conscience pet owners lower their pet’s carbon paw print. One of the products they produce is a flushable, biodegradable pet waste pickup bag – FlushEze™. The bag dissolves in water, allowing the flushed pet waste to be processed in sewer treatment facilities, thus preventing E. Coli and other toxic bacteria to seep into our ground water, streams, and rivers.

Cat litter presents another environmental conundrum. Most clumping litters use natural clay (sodium bentonite), which is strip minded — an earth destroying process. In addition, the dust kicked up by your cat, or you while performing daily scooping, contains silicon particles that are a known carcinogen. Fortunately, there are now many non-clay alternatives. They fall into several categories: wood-based (pine, cedar), plant-based (wheat, corn, grass fibers), and paper-based (newsprint, recycled newspaper). Unlike clay, most of these litters are biodegradable. Consider disposing of the litter in a paper bag rather than plastic one. Otherwise, the soiled litter will be preserved right along side the dog feces in a landfill.

Flushable cat litters are controversial. Cat feces may contain Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite not filtered by most municipal sewage-treatment systems, thus being allowed to enter our water system. This parasite is harmful to marine wildlife.

When buying toys for your pets, purchase ones made from recycled material or sustainable fibers, such as hemp. A green alternative to purchasing new toys is to reuse (remember those ‘R’ words) items you already have. An empty plastic water bottle can make a fun toy your dogs and they love the crunchy noise. Old socks can be turned into tog-of-war toys and old blankets into pet bedding. Your
pet will not be confused if their bed does not have his or her name monogrammed on it to identify it as theirs.

Cats and kittens have been known to have great fun with a pinecone. It’s hard enough to withstand playful abuse, but light enough to be tossed around. You can’t get much more natural than that.

The pet food recall started people really thinking about healthier foods for their animals. But healthier made food is also healthier for the environment. Select food made with meats that are raised in sustainable, humane ways without the use of hormones or drugs.

Does your cat really need an electric powered water fountain or self-cleaning litter box?

Going green can seem overwhelming, but begin with small changes – it will help. What is your pet’s carbon paw print?

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