Lowering Your Carbon Pawprint: How to be a more Eco-Friendly Dog Owner
When people talk about being more “environmentally friendly” they might consider using public transport to get to work, making sure that the lights are turned off or conscientiously splitting rubbish and recycling.
But how many people think about their canine’s carbon pawprint? Humans produce “over 300 million tons of plastic every year” and “the largest market for plastics is as a packaging material with this market accounting for nearly half of all plastic waste that is generated globally.”
With an estimated 9 million dogs in the UK, there are a lot of bowls to fill and a lot of packaging to be binned. Add to that poo bags, dogs toys and treats packaging, and our canine companions can be contributing high volumes to the excess of plastic waste which the world struggles to recycle, inevitably ending up in landfill or in our precious oceans.
So, what can you do, as an eco-conscious dog owner, to help reduce the carbon paw-print of your furry family member?
Did you know… “Fewer than 1 in 20,000 food pouches are recycled… making them more of a burden than single-use coffee cups”?
Within the pet food industry, there are several food packaging options, some more recyclable than others. Black plastic trays, for example, are more likely to end up incinerated or in landfill as automated recycling facilities find it hard to distinguish black from other colours. Cans and jars have high carbon emissions through their sourcing and production – plus the only elements that can come from a renewable source is their label.
A more environmentally friendly option would be to consider a carton packaging. These innovative packs are more commonly associated with dairy products and chopped tomatoes than with wet dog food and treats, but some manufacturers are persevering with this type of packaging as they are fully recyclable and keep the food fresh and protected without the need for nasty preservatives.
Made primarily from FSCTM cardboard, cartons start from responsibly managed forests and then end up being turned into roof tiles and toilet rolls at the end of their life cycle.
Consider the origin.
There are still a small number of British dog food manufacturers – which are more than just a brand. Some source produce from within the UK, whereas others get their ingredients from the UK and abroad. By being a UK based manufacturer, they will use less fuel miles from the fields to the factory. Other brands have their food manufactured abroad, thus increasing fuel miles dramatically, and raising your canine’s carbon footprint.
Have you ever thought about making your own dog toys? Be imaginative with fabrics – an old tea towel, t-shirt or blanket makes a sturdy plaything. Add in a knot for interest, or alternatively you can plait or weave some fabric and hide treats for extra brain exercise!
If you don’t want to make your own, consider choosing toys that are biodegradable or from environmentally conscious companies.
Whilst it is lovely to get in the car and drive to a beautiful countryside location or beach, it is more environmentally friendly to walk straight from the front door. Make use of your surroundings, go on an adventure, and see what you can find locally to your home. There may be many undiscovered places that you and your dog can enjoy together without the need to get in the car.
Dog mess is a huge problem – the need to pick it up and the need to not use plastic bags have to be equally balanced. A labrador could potentially use over 10,200 poo bags during their lifetime. There are, however, other options that avoid the use of plastic bags, whilst still cleaning up after your dog.
The easiest solution would be to consider bio-degradable bags. Readily available and easy to purchase as an alternative to plastic, this is a relatively simple switch. You could think about a compost bin at home – although hygiene would need to be a consideration, or a pet poop wormery as more environmentally friendly options.
So, consider making these small steps to make a big difference for all our canine companions to be more environmentally savvy, and begin your journey to a greener world.