Our pets have a larger environmental impact than most people realize. A medium dog's impact is equivalent to that of a VW Golf - pet food alone requires hundreds of millions of tonnes of meat and grain, using large amounts of energy. Then there's the poop. The average dog deposits approximately 7 tonnes of waste in its lifetime, which (if it’s all disposed of in plastic bags) requires approximately 15,000 bags.
It's also true that pet’s offer boundless amounts of love, loyalty, companionship, and affection. In fact, pet owners generally have lower blood pressure, fewer mental health issues, and even spend less time in hospital.
With the positive impact of pet ownership on our mental and physical health, happiness and social skills, it’s worth considering how you can help to reduce your pet’s environmental paw print. While caring for and nurturing your pet family, it's also important to think about their profound impact on biodiversity and the health of our environment.
1. Compost Your Pet Poop - This is the most important thing that every pet owner should be doing. Composting is nature’s way of recycling, and by disposing of your pet poo properly you create a benefit for yourself as well – fresh fertilizer for your garden. Just remember that pet poo is different to other compostable waste, so it’s important that you are handling and composting it the right way.
2. Recycle Newspaper - Bundling up old newspaper makes for an environmentally friendly litter tray liner. Using a sanitary glove, you can later throw both the newspaper and waste matter into your EnsoPet composter, completing the circle of life.
3. Pick It Up - No matter where you are or how it got there, pick it up. Dog poo can be washed directly into waterways, causing bacterial contamination which can hurt fish and other wildlife. Put it where it belongs.
4. Feed Your Pet Properly - If you're not sure what this involves, the best person to ask is your vet. They can provide adequate advice on how to ensure your pet is receiving correct portions, enough nutrients and a balanced diet, making for a healthier digestive system. There are also many companies out there that now provide organic and/or ethically sourced pet foods which are definitely worth investigating.
5. Think Before Throwing - The next time you go to throw away an item that your pet no longer loves, consider that a nearby shelter might appreciate the donation.
6. Check Labels - It only takes a few extra seconds to make sure that the products you buy are using eco-friendly materials and packaging. Are they biodegradable?
7. Degradable or Biodegradable? - Many people are unclear exactly what these terms mean – degradable means that the material breakdown occurs through chemical reactions, whereas biodegradable means that the breakdown occurs with the help of microbes. What most people don’t realize is that toxins can be produced by both processes. Even with compostable plastic bags, toxins are likely. Play it safe and go for paper bags.
8. Work Out Together - Parks are free, environmentally sound, provide exercise, and are great places for you and your pet to socialise. While you’re getting out and about, opt for a park close to your house and leave the car at home.
9. Get Crafty – Why not try making your own doggie or kitty treats? This way you know exactly what you are putting into your pets and the Earth, and it's a fun activity for you and the kids.
By adopting these nine easy practices into your life, you're well on your way to becoming an eco-friendly pet owner and reducing your (and your pet's) environmental paw print.
For more information on composting your pet's waste, contact Bokashi Composting Australia.