By Emily Gantt
Published: 12/09/2020, edited: 10/26/2022
If you’re like many pet parents, you may not have considered how dog products affect the planet. While undoubtedly convenient and cheap, modern innovations like plastic have a toxic dark side. The build-up of plastics in our landfills has driven a dire need for sustainable and earth-friendly products.
Plastic poo bags, for instance, can take decades to decompose completely. Leather collars and leashes are often treated with toxic tanning agents that pollute the environment. The good news is there are tons of earth-friendly pet product lines cropping up in stores. These products will ensure nothing about your walk has to change, except the brand. This guide will help you become more eco-conscious and learn how to make small changes with a significant impact.
Your first switch should be from plastic poo bags to compostable bags since these are the number one most-used disposable item by dog walkers. Scientists estimate that plastic bags take 10 to 20 years to break down into the soil. These same bags pose a risk to animals and aquatic life that commonly ingest them. They're also a big reason why microplastics are finding their way into the food supply.
Compostable poo bags are made with recycled material and degrade faster than traditional plastic. Just switching to compostable poo bags will make a big difference. According to LiveScience, “America’s 83 million pet dogs produce 10.6 million tons of poop every year.” Now imagine how many plastic poo bags are needed to scoop that much poop! A LOT.
If you're switching to compostable poo bags, be sure to dispose of them correctly. Never place compostable poo bags into a food compost bin. Also, avoid adding them to compost piles that will be used fertilize food crops.
There are tons of environmentally-conscious dog leashes on the market with tons of different styles and designs. Many of these are made with hemp or bamboo fibers, which are more sustainable than leather or petroleum-based fabrics (like nylon).
These natural fibers are just as strong as synthetic materials you’re used to in most leashes and collars. Plus, some of the more luxurious eco-leashes feature a spiffy fleece lining. If you’re dead set on a synthetic collar or leash, opt for one made out of recycled plastic, which is surprisingly comfy for our furry pals. That’s a collar you both can feel good about!
Morning dog walks get quite chilly, and there are plenty of eco-friendly pet clothing companies to make sure your pup is ethically bundled. With more brands moving to eco-friendly manufacturing processes, you’re sure to find some duds to suit your canine’s style.
Would you seriously walk a dog without bringing some goodies along? Eco-friendly toys are a new trend in the pet industry, and there are a bazillion types to choose from. If your pup is the squeaky toy type, choose a recycled plastic squeaker. Does your Pug like to tug? Opt for a hemp rope pull.
Alternatively, you can repurpose household items into toys. Tie a knot in an old towel for an easy (and free!) tug toy — but check it regularly to make sure there are no loose ends or bits that could come off and be swallowed.
Need some more ideas? Check out our "ultimutt" guide to zero waste dog toys!
In certain environments, plastic bottles can take over 400 years to decompose. Luckily, phasing out plastic bottles is an easy switch. You can find reusable and sustainable bottles at almost any store. Even a hard plastic reusable bottle is better than accumulating thousands of single-use water bottles over the course of a year.
Take your fetch game to a new level with a tennis ball made of 100% recycled materials. Many different companies sell variations of this type of product, and your fur-baby is guaranteed to love any one of them.
Bamboo bowls are an inexpensive (and eco-friendly!) solution for a hungry Husky. Not only are these bowls super cool even for humans, but bamboo is one of the world’s most sustainable resources.
Many topical flea preventatives are toxic to aquatic life and bees. They can even contaminate the water supply. Some even contain ingredients known to cause cancer. Protect your baby from parasites while they walk with a non-pollutant and toxin-free flea and tick preventative.
If you’ve ever walked a long-haired dog, you know that sticks, burrs, and leaves are always getting stuck in their fur. A bamboo bristle brush is an eco-friendly solution to those knotty problems.
You should also consider switching your pup’s toothbrush for a non-plastic version. Americans trash 23,000 tons of plastic toothbrushes every year; you can avoid adding to that number by switching to a wooden or bamboo toothbrush for Fido and yourself.
Yep, nowadays, even treats and vitamins can be kind to mother earth. From CBD to chondroitin, most anything you need is being pumped out with earth-friendly packaging and ingredients. Is your pup feeling a little stiff in the mornings? An organic joint supplement will add pep to their step. Don’t forget to throw some healthy organic treats in your cart too!
The number-one rule when transitioning from unsustainable to sustainable pet products is to use what you already have before buying new. And that includes the not-so-eco-friendly stuff. Donate those nylon leashes and plastic bowls to a charity or the humane society. This way, they’ll be put to good use and won’t end up in a landfill.
Secondly, start the transition with disposable items like poo bags and litter. Single-use disposable items are the most harmful pet products to the environment. Luckily, replacing them with a more sustainable alternative generally isn’t much more expensive than your usual brand.
We hope this guide inspires you to take action to be more eco-conscious in your pet parenting. Transitions are never easy, but a few small changes here and there can make a big difference for Mother Earth.
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