Autumn is a great time to organize your house, your family, and your pets. It is also a good time to reevaluate your green footprint. Many people clear out warm-weather clothing, reorganize their kitchens for upcoming holiday feasts, and store camping equipment until next season. Why not extend that to your pets? While you prepare for the coming season and the holidays that come with it, keep in mind there are many things you can do to lessen that footprint, especially if you have furry family members.
Adopt and Spay or Neuter
If you are looking for a cuddly Christmas gift, consider adoption. Adopting a pet not only saves a sweet animal from euthanization, but also reduces the amount of resources used at shelters to care for the animal. Spaying and neutering pets reduces the homeless pet population, which provides similar benefits as adopting an animal.
Healthy Food, Healthy Pet
Pet food is mostly meat-based. Choose minimally processed foods made with locally raised meat, eco-friendly fish, and organic vegetables. If you prefer, you can make your pet’s food, but make sure to ask your pet’s vet for a list of healthy options first.
Pet waste is a huge problem for the environment. Not only is it laden with dangerous bacteria that are harmful to wildlife and our fresh lakes and rivers, but the plastic bags that people use to dispose of it litter our landfills. Opt for biodegradable bags to dispose of your pet’s waste.
Additionally, cat litter, especially the clay-clumping variety, is also not biodegradable and is full of cancer-causing chemicals that are harmful to both your cat and the environment. The clay is strip-mined, which ruins entire ecosystems and strips land of the nutrients needed to grow vegetation.
The chemicals in many household cleaners are harmful to your pets. Use natural enzyme-based cleaners to eliminate pet stains and odors. Natural cleaners, such as lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar or natural cleaning products are healthy options for household cleaning. Lifekind has a great line of green cleaning and personal-care products, including the natural enzyme cleaner pictured above.
Don’t forget your yard. Many animals, including my sweet boxer, Trooper, love to eat grass. Make sure to protect them by using only natural products in your yard and garden.
You can also use biodegradable shampoos and conditioners for your furry friends, or make your own.
Pets are easily entertained. A little yarn, a piece of scrap material, or a cardboard box will keep your cat playing for hours. My dog prefers attention and a human playmate, rather than playing with a toy. Trooper would much rather take a hike in the woods or have a wrestling match with his “daddy” than chew on a store-bought toy. If you prefer to purchase a toy for your pet, stay away from anything plastic, and preferably purchase toys made with organic or recycled materials.
There are also many great options for organic or natural pet products, including pet beds. OMI offers some great organic pet beds made with certified organic cotton, organic buckwheat, and/or 100% natural rubber latex.
Remember to donate gently used toys and gear to pet shelters, too.