Eco-friendly Pets

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021 by Samantha Creadon

In addition to making changes in our daily activities to keep the environment in mind, we can also make changes in our pet’s daily lives that can positively benefit the environment. Maybe you already practice some of these! Hopefully, you’ll learn about some new ones too! Our Honorary Lugger, Molly, gives all these her seal of approval!


Let’s get the nasty one out of the way right now. Poop. All dogs (and cats) poop. Dogs poop on average 274 lbs. a year. That’s a lot of plastic bags. If you’re like most people, maybe you reuse your old plastic shopping bags as poo-baggies, that works! Or maybe you’re like me and you don’t use plastic shopping bags (I have an army of reusable shopping bags in my car waiting in the wings), then you can opt for biodegradable and poo-bags made from recycled plastic content. Just be mindful, unless you already compost at your home or with your municipality, biodegradable and “compostable” bags will not break down in the landfill. If that’s the case, you’re better off buying bags made from recycled plastic content! The fact that you’re picking up your pet’s waste, whether on your walks or in your yard is a huge win, anyways! Pet waste is a large contributor to watershed contamination. Storm sewers typically drain directly into lakes and streams, carrying your pet’s waste along with all the water. When pet wasted decays, it produces excessive amounts of oxygen and ammonia, which combined with warm temperatures kills fish. Picking up your pet waste is more important than you may think!


Pet food and treats are another great place to keep the environment in mind! When shopping for pet food, organic and sustainably sourced are both very important ways you can decrease your carbon footprint at the pet store. Organic farming reduces pollution associated with pesticides and herbicides, conserves water, reduces soil erosion which improving soil fertility, and typically uses less energy. Plus, farming without the use of pesticides and herbicides is much more beneficial for birds, wildlife, and local pollinator species like bees and butterflies. If your pet prefers protein from ocean-inhabitants, make sure you check to see if the company is sustainably sourcing their fish! This typically means smaller fishing operations that have both a smaller impact on local fisheries (i.e. not overfishing) as well as a smaller carbon footprint! Treats are another great place to consider environmentalism! Always look for similar qualities in your treats, as well as simple treats like dehydrated chicken/lamb liver, sweet potato. Even fresh fruits and veggies like carrots, snap peas and blueberries are great treats! But be careful when feeding raw fruits and veggies and be sure to do your research, they’re not all pet friendly! You can also try making your own frozen treats in the summer, make a smoothie of all the “human food” (those fruits and veggies) your pet loves, and freeze them into little heat-beating goodies! If you prefer to buy all your treats, consider local small-business pet shops that often sell biscuits in bulk- meaning you can skip the packaging and just pour ‘em right into your treat jar!


When it comes to buying your pup (and your cat) new toys, always consider the most eco-friendly sources. Less plastic is always better, toys can be purchased now that are made of bamboo, hemp fabrics, and recycled content plastics (oceanplastics and recycled water bottles). When it comes to toys for heavy chewers, KONG brand toys are made of real rubber and are much better for the environment than composite plastics and vinyl. Even better, consider making toys from junk you have at home! Use old t-shirts and sweatshirts knotted up and braided into DIY tug ropes are a great idea (local animal rescues appreciate these kinds of donations as well)! A ball of old tinfoil can keep your cat entertained for hours, as well as both old toilet paper and paper towel cardboard rolls (dogs, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, and birds can have these as well!).


A very important part of working towards a smaller footprint in any aspect of life is buying locally as much as possible, and only buying what you truly need! Buying unnecessary items can be considered a source of waste, if you (or your pup) doesn’t need it right now, don’t buy it!



Molly helping out at Chicago NW Suburb's last recycling drive with the Village of South Elgin!




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