How to Go Zero Waste With A Pet
It’s a simple fact of life at home – wherever we go, our pets go with us, and whatever we do, our pets do with us.
And you know what that means? If we go zero waste, so do our pets!
You might be thinking “but how much waste can a dog or cat really produce?”
The answer is a lot.
Our little furry friends don’t quite get recycling, minimalism, or being environmentally friendly – they just live. And because of their carefree and tear-about attitude, they tend to leave a trail of ripped up teddies, torn plastic, food packaging, and a good bit of excrement for you to dutifully pick up!
But that’s why we love them! We don’t want them to change their fun and loving selves, so it’s up to us to make the changes for them.
My dog won’t be happy about that!
Fortunately for us, dogs don’t have very high standards, and even if they did, the zero waste alternatives would reach them. So, having a zero waste pet isn’t too hard.
However, it may take some time for you to introduce a zero waste lifestyle to your pet. It takes a lot of research, practice, and testing what your little furry loved one likes and doesn’t like.
Here are a number of ways that we can decrease our pet’s carbon footprint. Let’s get started right away with the most obvious:
If there’s anything we know about dogs or cats, it’s that they love mealtimes. The rattle of a bag, the clang of their bowl on the floor, maybe even just hearing the word ‘dinner’ will have your pet running to the kitchen!
But you must admit, their food wracks up a lot of plastic.
Look into dog or cat food companies that offer recycling schemes. You’d be surprised at how many eco-friendly options you find. Some companies even ask that you send back dry dog food bags to them so that they can properly dispose of them.
However, this just isn’t going to work for everyone, it’s not available in some areas and doesn’t completely eliminate waste.
There’s also the option of buying in bulk if you’d like to save on waste, but again, this still isn’t suitable for everyone and often comes at the price of lower-quality food.
So, what’s there left to do?
Time to get cooking
Preparing a meal for your pooch is, as of now, still the only way to ensure no waste is produced.
Cooking for your pet can be as simple as cutting bits off whatever you’re eating and serving it up to them. Just be sure to get a bit of everything in there. Dogs are omnivores meaning that they can survive off either meat or vegetables. But they really thrive off a mix of both.
Conveniently, dogs don’t tend to be fussy and will gladly hoover up any of your unwanted proteins or carbs. Think about those pesky bits of fat that you throw away, even potato skins – these are all things that dogs love to eat.
A cat, on the other hand, could be a lot picker when it comes to mealtime. They are somewhat less fond of vegetables and tend to focus on meaty goods. So, be sure to cook up some extra meet for your little kitty at dinner time!
And who knows, your cat might deem your meals ‘jump up on table’ worthiness if you keep practicing!
If cooking for your pet every day seems a bit much, there’s always the option of having a few raw meat days a week. It’s safe for both cats and dogs to eat cuts of raw meat. So, as long as you pair the raw meat with other nutritious foods, it should keep them happy!
And we can’t forget about treats!
Treats, of course, are incredibly important! And our little furry friends can’t get enough of them.
I know what you’re thinking. Treats don’t sound very zero waste but wait until you hear what I have to tell you! A zero waste lifestyle doesn’t have to mean deprivation for everyone. Just like you can still treat yourself, you can certainly still treat your little ones!
So, what can you do to give you pet the treatment they deserve?
Freezing some fruit or meats is into little cubes is the perfect treat idea for those warm and stuffy days when both you and your pet are struggling to cool down. Not to mention that this stimulates our little furry friends and keeps them occupied.
And if your pet is more of a meat-lover, consider chopping up a juicy piece of their favorite meat into little bite-sized pieces. They’ll be pulling out all of their best tricks just to get a taste of these teats!
Don’t forget that your dog needs to have a good chew on something every now and then (or you can say bye-bye couch!) A good method of getting around this chewing conundrum is by buying meats on the bone.
However, be sure to extract the bone before passing it on to your pooch as cooked bones can be harmful to their health and pose a choking risk.
“Isn’t human food bad for dogs and cats? Won’t it make them sick?”
The true answer is: yes and no.
You’re going to need to throw out any idea you have about it not being safe for dogs and cats to eat human food and relearn from the start.
Yes, of course, there are foods we eat that are harmful to our little loved ones, but not all of them. In fact, most things we cook for ourselves are safe to be consumed by our pets.
It even tends to be better for them than most store-bought canned or dried pet foods nowadays! You see, dogs and cats need variation in their diet just like we do. So, feeding them as we feed ourselves isn’t always a bad idea.
But the most important thing, before you even start to cook for your pets, is to DO YOUR RESEARCH. There are many seemingly harmless foods we eat day to day that could easily make our pets sick or worse. And that’s the last thing we want!
Take the humble avocado or healthy raisins as an example. We can happily chow down on these ingredients and be satisfied that we’ve had a nutritious snack or meal. Your pets, on the other hand, will start to feel nauseous and eventually throw up after eating these foods.
So, don’t be fooled by any food, and be sure to look into everything you’re about to feed your precious pets!
Food and Water bowls
Now that you know how to prepare the perfect meal for your pet, it’s time to figure out where to put it!
Of course, if you already have food and water bowls it’s best to keep them until you need to replace them.
But, if you’re about to do a zero waste shop, there are some bowls that are simply more zero waste than others.
Look out for bowls made of sustainable materials that don’t break easily such as metals or ceramics. And if you see a bamboo bowl, be sure to snap it up! Bamboo is the eco-friendly material of the moment and is increasingly being used to make sustainable everyday household items.
This might sound a bit crazy. Especially since we probably see bamboo once, maybe two times a year, we simply don’t associate it with being useful to us.
However, all things considered, bamboo is one of the strongest, cheapest, and most readily available materials on the planet. So, no matter how much your pet claws at it, bites it, or plays around with it – it simply won’t bend or break!
Imagine that! You’ll never have to buy a bowl for your pet ever again!
Now, this step isn’t easy. It involves dusting off your skillset and getting creative, which is always fun, but it will take time. And a lot of perseverance.
“Why perseverance??” you may be asking.
Well, dogs like to chew through things and cats like to chew through things. So, you might find yourself starting over again and again but it’s certainly worth it. It’s zero waste and eco-friendly after all.
But what am I talking about exactly? Making your pet’s bed, of course!
You probably have old rags, clothes, or blankets hanging around the house, right? Why not put your sewing skills to the test and make a nice cozy bed out of them?
This is especially easy to do with old jumpers or sweaters. You just have to sew the arm and neck holes shut. Fill the body with cotton, newspaper, or any other soft substance. And Voilà! You have yourself a cushion that any little critter would be happy to sleep on! Oh, and emphasis on the ‘little’ because this simply won’t cut it for bigger dogs but would likely be perfect for a cat or small dog.
If you’re in need of something a little bigger, it’s better to apply the same method to pillowcases or quilts. You can even sew blankets together to make a snuggly bed.
“But what if my pet is an outdoor pet” I can hear some of you asking.
Well, there’s no need to worry because you can still reduce the carbon footprint of your furry one while letting them roam free!
However, putting together a suitable bed for an outdoor pet may be a little more challenging and involve a lot more work but fear not! It’s very doable and I’ll tell you how.
First, you’ll need wood, nails, and a hammer. Perhaps you can already see where I’m going here. Secondly, you’ll need to watch a lot of tutorials or enlist the help of an expert friend (if you’re not already a professional carpenter!)
Next, you’ll have to assemble a perfectly fine eco-friendly, and sustainable dog house! Throw a few blankets and pillows in there and you’ve got yourself a bed fit for a king! And finally, for the last step – your pet should have a good night’s sleep in its custom dog house.
These self-made beds are perfect for decreasing the carbon footprint of your dog and making sure they still achieve a good night’s sleep. And you’ll even sleep a little sounder!
Toys, toys, and even more toys!
Every pet just loves toys. It’s the first thing they run to in a pet shop and probably the last thing they think of at night (if they’ve had a good dinner!) So, they simply won’t be willing to compromise in this section, and they don’t have to.
Listen, you probably already know that your pet will play with absolutely anything they can get their paws on. Be it a stick they found on a walk or with a plastic wrapper – they’ll always find fun in things that would bore us to death.
You can use this to your advantage – your extremely eco-friendly and sustainable advantage.
Finding the perfect toy for your little critter can be as easy as picking up a stick as you walk outside or sewing together a few old rags and stuffing them with cotton. All good things to get their teeth into or tear apart!
However, if you’d like to get something a little longer lasting and a tad better-looking, you might want to set your sight on hemp-based or rubber toys.
Natural rubber is healthy for both old and young doggy gums alike and hemp toys are perfect for a dog that likes a bit of rough and tumble.
You’ll also find plenty of preloved second-hand toys at charity or thrift stores. This means that your little pooch or kitty can enjoy playing with their favorite soft toys.
So, being a waste-free pet doesn’t mean they have to miss out on any of the fun!
And now to get down to the nitty-gritty…
Naturally, this one applies mainly to dogs. Our little canine friends need to get out to stretch their legs and have a good sniff every now and then. This is all fine and dandy but what every dog owner knows is that they leave little packages along the way for us to bend down and pick up.
For this purpose, we usually use plastic doggy bags that we immediately throw out. However, this isn’t quite as zero waste as we’d like it to be.
Fortunately, there are biodegradable doggy bags that can be brought home and left to compost. And composting is a must. Biodegradable doggy bags won’t disintegrate or compost in landfills as they will not be exposed to fresh air.
So, consider purchasing a compost bin for your back garden to throw your biodegradable doggy bags into. You can even make your own compost bin by emptying and using any large sealed container you may have around the house.
And if for some reason, you can’t buy zero waste doggy bags, newspaper sheets are the next best thing. It might not be as glamorous, but it works and it’s fantastic for the environment (not to mention that your local community will thank you!)
Down the drain!
You also might be tempted to pull the ‘poop, scoop, and flush’ method where you shovel up your dog’s poo and flush it away down the toilet. But it’s essential that you contact your local council before doing this to check their policies.
However, if they allow it, this is a perfectly sustainable and completely waste-free method of disposing of your dog’s excrement.
And you certainly can’t do it with your cat’s excrement! Cat’s waste is notoriously toxic and harmful, meaning that our sewerage systems simply can’t handle it properly.
However, on the topic of cats, there are ways of making their litter box more eco-friendly. Having a zero waste litter box for your zero waste cat involves using sawdust, mulch, or dirt from dry dirt packages (be sure not to just use any old dirt!)
Just be sure to slowly incorporate these new substances into your cat’s litter box as it may take them some time to get used to it, and we don’t want any accidents!
Not to be forgotten is the smell. You might currently be using fragrant litter box fillers or scents to capture the stink, however, by sprinkling a bit of baking soda on top of the litter box, this issue can be avoided.
To conclude …
So, there you have it. I hope this article offered you some valuable insights into how to help your pet to be the best zero waste pet they can be! It won’t be easy, but it’s worth it in the end. You may even notice an improvement in your pet’s behavior and demeaner as they get back to nature and are filled with nutritious foods! So, why not give it a shot and help your pet to be more eco-friendly today! Perhaps we have a carbon footprint to lower, but our furry friends certainly have a carbon pawprint to also deal with!