Pets Can Be Green Too
We all love our furry friends, but did you ever stop to think about their carbon pawprint? I'm excited to share some of the things we do in the crunchy house to minimize their impact on the environment.
First, adopt pets from rescue shelters instead of buying them from pet stores (supplied by puppy mills) or backyard breeders. Also, make sure to get our pets spayed or neutered. Pets are incredibly overpopulated and not only does this cause thousands of innocent animals to be put to sleep daily. Over 4 million adoptable dogs and cats (one every 8 seconds) are put down every year due to shortage of homes.
We have a rabbit, Trixie, in our house, and I bet if you have a small animal, you never thought twice about their carbon pawprint, did ya? Any of the small herbivore pets have poop that can be composted. Since they don't eat meat, their poop is ideal in the compost and actually really helps it along. You just have to make sure that you use a litter that is okay to throw in the compost as well. For our rabbit, we use Yesterdays News which is basically just recycled newspaper turned into litter pellets.
Image: Jenny The Crunchy Wife
So if you have a rabbit, guinea pig, hamster, gerbil, or even horses (not small, but an herbivore), when it comes time to clean out the cage/litter box, just pour the whole thing in your regular compost, give it a mix and you're good.
Or, if your local waste collection lets your put compost in your yard waste bin, then you can stick it in there. Just imagine how much you're saving from being sent off to the landfill. We also buy our rabbit food in the largest bag possible, then store it in an air-tight container in order to minimize on packaging waste. If you buy in bulk, even better.
Cats and Dogs
Unfortunately, because dogs and cats are carnivores, we can't really compost their feces along with our regular compost. We can, however, create their own special compost in our yard. A lot of people are starting what is called 'In-ground Pet waste composting'. In a nutshell, you dig a BIG hole in the ground, stick a bin in the hole (with the bottom cut out) and start dumping all of the pet waste into the hole. Over time, it will turn into compost. There's a lot more that goes along with it, so if this is something that interests you, please see this guide with step-by-step instructions.
If you don't want to Do-It-Yourself, you can buy these poo converters ready made resulting in a quicker, easier installation process for you. Just do a quick google search and you'll find loads of suppliers. This compost can then be used on ornamentals, but not on food crops like fruits and veggies. You can add cat waste to this compost too. As far as litter goes, the good news is that there are many eco-friendly options available on the market now. Instead of buying clay-based litter which is made from 1.5 million tons of stripped-clay, annually, look for something made from sustainable materials that won't deplete the planet's resources so rapidly. We use THIS biodegradable (made from corn...no harsh chemicals on kitty's feet,yay!) cat litter. We LOVE it and so does our kitty. The only thing I don't like about this litter is that it's got a semi-strong fragrance to it, but it goes away over time. For us, it has worked out better than any of the alternatives because our kitty loves it.
Some other options include Feline Pine, World's Best Cat Litter, Yesterdays News and Swheat Scoop. I suggest experimenting with each of these to see what your cat prefers. You'll figure it out quickly because if he/she doesn't like it, they'll start using other areas of the house to eliminate. These litters are all biodegradable and safe for your pet.
If you're not ready to take the plunge into composting your pet's waste, you can flush it! Check with your local waste water management plant to make sure that this is allowed where you live. I contacted mine and they assured me that this was a great way of getting rid of the waste, however, they said not to flush cat waste because of the litter, even if you use biodegradable litter.
You can also purchase biodegradable poop bags, but I don't think they're a very good option. While they are great in theory, once you pile them with all of the other tons and tons of trash that make up a landfill, no Oxygen can get to the bag to start the decomposition process, and it will never truly decompose. I like to think it's a better option than using regular bags just in case it ends up somewhere that it will decompose, but in the end it most likely isn't doing much for the environment.