Our pets are often considered members of our families and if your family is anything like mine, the desire to spoil them at times outweighs our sustainability journey in our human-reality. Here are a few things to keep in mind when caring for your pet and maintaining or starting your low-waste lifestyle.
Adopt, don't shop.
If you have the opportunity and ability to, rescue an animal. There are hundreds of thousands of pets that need homes, whether their previous owners are no longer able to care for them, they're strays, or they've been in the shelter waiting for their forever home. Help these animals out if you can and stay away from traditional pet shops.
Use what you have.
Sure, some pets require specialized equipment and supplies, but a lot of others just want a warm place to call home and people that care for them. Skip the cutesy dog and cat bowls and use what you already have! If you do decide to invest in specific items later, at least you'll have a better understanding of what you actually need and what you're looking for so your purchase can fulfill your needs and long-term you waste way less.
Use Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Freeya, Buy Nothing, Craigslist, eBay, and local second-hand stores in your area to find items for your pet. Every Goodwill shop I've ever been in has a little pet supply section and I've found lots of great items at other second-hand shops too. From dog Halloween costumes and life-preservers, to harnesses, jackets, and crates…I've found so many items second-hand for my pup.
Use sustainable alternatives.
For example, dog waste bags are traditionally made of plastic. Even some of the "green" ones on the market claim they're sustainable just because they have plastic bags on a paper core…greenwashing much? Skip the core altogether and use fully home-compostable dog waste bags. Another good option is repurposing plastic bags that are already in your home, such as newspaper or bread bags. Look for sustainable alternatives for cat litter or pet cage bedding, like natural materials and recycled paper, respectively. Browse our Pet Care Collection for alternatives!
Be a responsible owner.
Did you know that free-ranging domestic cats are the #1 threat to wild birds? Keep your cats safe and the birds safe by keeping them indoors, or build a catio! On a hike or camping with your pup? Make sure you clean up after your pet, even if you're in the woods. Sure, wild animals poop, but their diets are made up of items in their environment. Your pet is most likely not eating those same things and can introduce nasty bacteria and pathogens to the environment that can be harmful to the wild animals and natural life that lives there.
Rehome what you don't need.
Did you end up with items for your pet you haven't put to use the way you expected? Give or sell them to peers through Facebook or another channel (maybe those listed above!) or donate them to an animal rescue or an organization that works with the houseless community. There will always be an animal in need who can use what your pet didn't need! From extra food to accessories, some pet will be very happy to receive them!