Clipsters & Co. advice -Sustainability and dog ownership - being green with your best friend
When it comes to leading a sustainable lifestyle, our furry friends can play an important role. Whilst the companionship and opportunity for exercise they offer is a big positive, caring for a dog also means asking some questions about how we incorporate eco-friendly practices into our lives. From choosing sustainable pet products and accessories to reducing our carbon pawprint, there are numerous ways we can make a positive impact on the environment while still providing our dogs with the love and care they deserve.
Adopt, Don’t Shop
It’s not always an easy decision, but choosing to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue organisation is a good choice on many levels, including sustainability. By giving a loving home to a rescue dog, you’re not only providing them with a second chance, you’re also reducing the demands on breeders and the risk of pet overpopulation.
Remember, however, that adopting a dog doesn’t mean they come ready trained. Be prepared to deal with your new friend having to adapt to their new home, family, and life with you. Do some research and speak to a trainer, vet and groomer before you bring home your new addition.
Sustainable Pet Products
When it comes to pet supplies, try to opt for the eco-friendly and sustainable choices. It’s not always easy – there’s a lot of plastics and human-made fabrics out there, but seek out products made from organic, natural, or recycled materials where possible.
Look for the most sustainable waste bags you can. It can be confusing – those labelled compostable and biodegradable aren’t always the best option (see below). Also, try eco-friendly toys made from sustainable, organic or recycled materials, and beds and accessories crafted from recycled fabrics.
Leather, a common material in leads and collars, is robust and can last for years, and can come from more responsible sources, but leather-making requires huge amounts of land, water and sometimes chemicals. Unfortunately, so do a lot of vegan leather options such as artificial leather and apple leather.
Look out for products that use recycled fabrics or upcycled materials. A lot of virgin plastic is used for dog products such as bowls and toys, and whilst that can be a practical and hygienic choice, there are more and more alternatives available (such as our range of dog bowls), so where you can, seek them out.
The Right Food (and the Right Amount)
We’ve seen a massive increase in the range of food and treat options for your dog, and diet can be a complex issue that you should discuss with your vet.
Raw food diets have become particularly popular, and can help with issues from behaviour to the condition of your dog’s coat. Consider products that use human-grade food that would otherwise go to waste, and products made locally to cut down on food miles. Also look at those brands using ethically-sourced ingredients and responsible packaging, as well as alternative proteins like insects. It is possible to provide a healthy, balanced diet without spending a fortune.
Be aware of how much your feed your dog. Find out the right amount for their size, age, activity and breed (again, speak to your vet) and don’t overfeed or leave uneaten food to waste. Like human food, any waste that is left can be composted at home or via your local refuse services.
Eco-Friendly Waste Management
All responsible owners clean up after their dog, and that usually means using waste bags. Always try to use designated bins in parks etc. as these are usually dealt with properly by local authorities.
When making choices about bags, be aware that being labelled biodegradable poo bags can often mean that, whilst the plastic eventually breaks down, it isn’t just absorbed by the earth. It becomes microplastic, often ending up in the water system. Also, compostable bags may only compost in very specific conditions, or with specialist equipment. It’s a surprisingly complicated area, especially when you consider you need a bag to be strong enough to keep your hands clean. Aim for bags with a high level of recycled plastic content (around 50% is good, like our dog waste bags) – this is typically both consistently sustainable and durable.
For more on dealing with dog poo sustainably, and eco-friendly dog waste bags, check out the edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme Sliced Bread that focused on that very subject.
Choose Sustainable Grooming
When it comes to grooming your dog, consider sustainable products where possible. Use shampoos and conditioners that are free from chemicals and harsh ingredients (this will also reduce the chance of any skin reactions from your dog) as well as biodegradable, sustainably packaged, and ethically sourced and tested. Also ask your groomer or pet shop about refill options, which will allow you to take an old bottle to be refilled with your preferred shampoo.
Choose grooming tools made from sustainable materials, such as those with recycled plastic or bamboo handles. Again, practicality and hygiene can be an issue, and the perfect solution may not be available to you, but it’s important we do what we can.
Life with a dog can be rough and tumble, so products need to be durable. They also need to be easy to clean. These factors can make buying eco-friendly difficult. As eco-friendly dog owners, however, we have the power to make a positive impact on the environment through choosing sustainable practices and products where we can. By adopting, choosing as many eco-friendly products as possible, reducing waste, and making good choices, we can create a greener future for our furry companions and the planet.
Do you have any tips for reducing waste or making sustainable choices for your dog? Share in the comments below.
Clipsters & Co. are a dog groomers, sustainable retailer, and qualified dog trainers. Any advice is intended to be general guidance and is not a substitute for professional advice. Always consult a professional if you’re concerned about any aspects of your dog’s behaviour, diet, health or wellbeing.