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Sunday, 18 August 2013

5 Ways to Reduce Your Pet’s Carbon Footprint

      Let me start by acknowledging that your pet’s carbon footprint is not nearly as big as yours, so if you’ve got limited time and resources focus on your own first.  But once you’ve gone vegan and bought a Prius what about your pet?  Here are some things to think about:

      1.      Treats & Toys
Photo Source: http://pinterest.com/pin/111323422011745327/
Think about purchasing treats and toys that are made locally and from recycled or renewable products.  Of course, you can even make a lot of pet toys (especially for cats) from stuff lying around the house.  Consider some of these ideas: we know that cats love to play in paper bags – so make a paper bag tunnel by cutting the bottoms of a few bags and taping them together (of course the more bags the longer the tunnel).  You can even cut a few holes out on the sides of the bags for some running in and out.  The toilet-paper tube you were about to recycle can also be a great cat toy.  You can cut strips in both ends of the tube to create a quick and easy toy or fill the tube with uncooked rice and securely tape both ends.  The rice will make a great sound as your cat bats it around the floor.

      2.      Cat Litter
Photo Source:http://pinterest.com/pin/11962755232548463/
There are lots of cat litter options out there ranging from traditional clay, silica gel based, plant based and recycled litter made from old newspapers or pine saw dust.  While the environmental impacts of clay cat litter are the greatest – it remains the cheapest of cat litters and the dominant cat litter in the United States.  Sadly, reducing your cat’s carbon footprint in this area will require you spending some more money.  

      3.      Waste Disposal
Photo Source: http://pinterest.com/pin/96897829452703908/
Sadly, good waste disposal options (especially in California) are few and far between.  Because of the fear of toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that most wastewater treatment plants don’t treat, getting into the ocean and impacting sea life, we are not supposed to flush cat poop down the drain.  Dog poop, like the poop from all animals that eat meat, can’t go to a compost facility.  While there are some bio-digester options (where the poop generates methane gas which can be used as a power source) these are still very rare. There really is no need for this scarcity and pet parents need to call upon municipalities, power providers and waste haulers to address this issue.   Sending poop to a landfill, even if you send it in a compostable or biodegradable bag (bag?), means that the poop is just going to sit there as landfills were not designed to encourage biodegradation or composting (and in fact are designed to avoid it so as to avoid creating methane gas).

     4.      Ditch the Dog Walker.
Photo Source: http://pinterest.com/pin/86694361549483008/
Sure that dog walker is easy, but taking a walk with your dog is not only good for your health but it’s good for the environment too.  There’s really no reason your dog needs to ride around town in the back of a pickup truck just to take a walk.  Meet your neighbors, stretch your legs and save the environment all at the same time.

    5.      Select a Green Caregiver.
Photo Source: pinterest.com/pin/181340322469219205/
Shop around for someone who will care for your pet in an environmentally friendly manner.  For a pet lodging facility ask about their green practices: alternative energy, purchasing practices, and waste diversion (recycling & composting).
If you want more information, feel free to visit our website or listen to the podcast from our recent panel discussion.


Mark Klaiman has been owning and operating Pet Camp, a pet day care and hotel in San Francisco for over 15 years with his wife Virginia.

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