Dog ownership comes with plenty of perks: Unconditional love, a reminder of the joys available in each moment, and a sense of purpose and companionship. Unfortunately, dogs also come with a host of needs—food, toys, gear—all of which have well developed consumer markets targeting dog owners.
Those of us trying to live green are often forced to look at the additional consumption and waste of caring for our canine companions. However, with a little bit of thought and some planning, you can find plenty of opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle to make dog ownership more eco-friendly.
Most of us that are trying to live in a more eco friendly way are already well aware of the over-use of packaging in commercial goods. Sometimes the choice between alternative products that we need comes down to which one is responsibly packaged.
In the world of dogs, there are several ways to become more aware of packaging and reducing our consumption of this wasteful component rampant in our consumer driven society.
Many local, and even some box chain stores sell consumables such as rawhide chew bones, antlers and even some dog treats in bulk bins that reduce packaging over buying them individually online.
Although the convenience of online shopping is something many busy folks appreciate, stopping in to support your local pet store offers the opportunity to reduce packaging from individually boxed and shipped items. It’s worth a few extra minutes on the ride home from work.
Cook at Home
Although commercial dog food companies would have you believe that anything but kibble made in a factory is poison to your dog, the truth is there are a wide variety of foods that are healthy additions to a balanced diet for your pooch.
By choosing to supplement your dog’s diet with some homemade treats, you are reducing packaging from commercial treats as well as giving him the benefit of whole food that has the nutritional boost of not being made to be shelf stable for 20 years.
Yes, some people food IS toxic to dogs, so make sure to do your research first.
If you are really feeling ambitious, check out raw food diets for your canines. Although it will add some work to your weekly routine, modern day raw food diets check all the boxes in terms of whole nutrition for your dog. Many holistic vets recommend a well balanced raw food diet over commercially prepared feed.
The most unpleasant part of having a dog is following them around to collect poop. Let’s face it: It’s a humiliating job, but if you live in an urban environment, you don’t have a choice. However, this simple but degrading task does offer an opportunity to cut down on a major source of plastic consumption: The poop bag.
You may have already switched to “biodegradable” poop bags, but it is time to get realistic. These bags, and their stinky contents, need both sun and air to degrade and they will get neither once buried deep in a landfill.
Consider replacing the bag with a small pail instead. Grab some toilet paper for the walk and gather the poo in your pail. When you get home, flush it. Looking for some other ideas? Here is an article devoted to the subject.
The next time you throw away a container of any kind, ask yourself first if this is a doggy toy in the making. By placing some of your pup’s kibble in any clean container and cutting some holes just big enough for the kibble to fall out when shaken or dropped, you have built a toy that will keep your dog engaged for hours.
Here is a fun version of the reused container toy:
There are not a lot of uses for old holey socks…but trust me…your dog is a fan. Don’t let them go to waste until they have lived a second life as a fun dog toy!
Here are two simple versions of sock toys your mutt will love!
You are probably already doing your part by donating clothes that no longer fit with your personal style, or are a size that no longer works for you. Every old blazer or pair of slacks that someone buys at a thrift store is one less dollar thrown into the very wasteful and largely unethical mass production garment industry. Kudos to you!
However, those T-shirts you have that are now far too holey, ripped or stained to give away in good conscience have a variety of uses if you happen to have a dog.
First, clean t-shirts make excellent stuffing for DIY dog beds and plush toys. If you have a shredder on your hands, this is a far better solution than the poly-fill stuffing that is sold at craft stores.
Another excellent choice are braided dog tug toys. Jersey is a fantastic fabric for these fun and easy DIY dog toys!
Dog Food Bags
The trouble with bags of kibble is that they are mixed materials so they do not recycle in their current form. However, you can take them apart and the exterior paper layer is generally recyclable in the paper bin.
Dog Food Cans
Generally made of aluminum or steel, cans are usually recyclable as long as you take the time to clean them out and sort them properly. If you are unsure, check for the recycle label, or use a magnet. A steel can will attract the magnet, aluminum won’t.
If you have some old toys that your dog isn’t interested in, your first thought should be to donate them to a local rescue shelter or rescue organization. Many volunteer groups are doing great work in your area to help second chance dogs find fur-ever homes, and your toys can help support foster parents that take on the valuable service of providing temporary homes for hard to place dogs.
Go Green with Fido!
We hope this article has given you some food for thought when it comes to reducing, reusing, and recycling in terms of dog ownership. If you have some other great ideas, please feel free to share them in the comments section below!