With Earth Day happening this week, I was wondering if you can give us any tips for being “Greener” pet owners. Any tips for environmentally safer pet care?
Going Green in Garden Oaks
Dear Going Green,
Earth Day (which is Saturday, April 22) was founded in 1970 as a day of education about environmental issues. Earth Day is now a globally celebrated holiday that is sometimes extended into Earth Week, a full seven days of events focused on green awareness. It’s a great time to reassess your habits and try to find greener alternatives to your normal routines.
Adopt don’t shop:
As a pet owner, one of the greatest things that you can do to support a greener existence is to adopt a pet rather than shop for a pet at a pet store or puppy mill. There are millions of homeless animals crowding our shelters and, by adopting a dog or cat from a shelter, you’re saving a life and making space in the shelter for another animal in need.
Beyond adoption, once you’re happily co-existing with your animal companions at home, there are more ways to support a greener life as a pet owner.
Scoop the poop:
Leaving dog or cat waste where pets drop it might seem like a natural alternative to putting it in a plastic bag and dumping it in a landfill, but harmful bacteria from pet waste may seep into local groundwater, be swept away in rainwater runoff or–if flushed–survive sewage treatment and eventually contaminate streams, lakes, or bays. Some pet owners compost pet waste in a miniature outdoor septic tank. When shopping for poop bags, look for biodegradable bags that will decompose in the landfill–or reuse plastic grocery bags. For cats, make sure you’re using litter made from materials that can be easily composted—such as corn, wheat, or recycled newspaper, rather than unsustainable clay.
Treating fleas with safer methods:
A flea infestation is misery, but commercial “bug bombs” fill your home with potentially hazardous chemicals. Try controlling the local flea population by using a combination of non-toxic methods. Grooming your pet regularly with a flea comb is a good start. As the fleas are caught in the comb, deposit them in soapy water to prevent them from jumping back onto your pet.
Fleas lay their eggs in the environment rather than on the animal, so cleaning up dust, debris, and pet hair will also help. Wash pet bedding and vacuum every five days, and get the vacuum bag out of the house before those tiny flea eggs hatch. You can freeze or burn the bag contents to destroy the eggs. Using a wet vac with slightly soapy water is an efficient way to capture both stray fleas and eggs. “Natural” or “food grade” diatomaceous earth (not the kind used in swimming pool filters) is safe to use in areas that can’t be reached by a mop or vacuum—the fine powder dehydrates fleas.
Safer pet food and pet food containers:
Try to choose pet foods that are made with organic or human-food grade ingredients that avoid hormones and additives. It’s also helpful to buy in bulk to reduce packaging and transportation waste. Consider purchasing the biggest bag of dry food available and then store it at home in a large container. This also helps keep the food fresher for longer, preventing food waste in the process. Be sure to recycle wet food cans as well.
Just a few, relatively simple changes can add up to big results for the environment. These green pet care tips won’t just keep the most playful family members healthier, you’ll also add eco-friendly to the list of life lessons your kids will have learned from having a family pet. Your influence can change the planet for generations.
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Pet of the Week
Meet Ada. Ada is a 2 year old, former “show cat” whose owners brought her to the vet to be euthanized when they grew bored with the cat show circuit. Thankfully, Ada’s vet said, “Nope,” and connected Ada with a rescue where she’s safe and loved. Ada is sweet and affectionate. Choose her, and she will show you that beauty is more than skin deep. To learn more, contact Save A Purrfect Cat Rescue at: www.saveacatrescue.org.