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Oregon Family Magazine

5 Tips For Being a More Sustainable Pet Parent

09/30/2023 ● By Christine Mallier
The future of our planet is a growing concern for people around the world, and pet ownership is part of the equation when choosing to live sustainably. As lovers of both pets and the planet, it’s part of the job of a responsible pet parent to consider ways to keep our carbon ‘pawprints’ small. It can feel like a daunting task, but sometimes big change comes from many little actions.

From the food we choose for our precious pets to the types of toys we purchase, there are lots of small ways pet owners can make changes to become more sustainable. Plus, when we do good for our planet, we also feel good, and when we feel good our pets feel better too!

Here are five tips to help you get started on your journey to becoming a more sustainable pet parent:

Upcycle your pet toys

Think outside the box when it comes to providing your furry friend with toys. Instead of adding more clutter and contributing to landfill waste, look for ways to upcycle old household materials into pet toys. Any cat owner can tell you their cat is probably more interested in the empty cardboard box than whatever was inside it, and well-loved old clothes can easily be made into a DIY tug toy or snuffle mat.

If you are keen on purchasing a new toy, look for toys that are BPA-free and made from organic or natural materials, or from reclaimed ocean plastic. And, as with any pet toy, make sure to supervise your pet when they are playing with their new toy to keep them safe from choking hazards.

Always opt for less packaging

According to the Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC), the pet food industry produces more than 300 million pounds of flexible plastic packaging per year in North America. But, whether it’s pet food or something else like toys or bedding, a good rule of thumb is to always opt for purchasing pet products that use minimal or recyclable packaging.

Premium pet food brands like Petcurean, Earth Animal, and Primal Pet Foods, for instance, have recently signed the PSC’s Packaging Pledge to make the majority of their packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. As a pet parent, being intentional about choosing products from companies that value sustainability as a core business objective is another way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Turn meal time into treat time

Instead of adding purchased treats to your pet’s diet - with the extra packaging and calories your pet probably doesn’t need - consider stretching your pet’s meals out over multiple engaging feeding sessions, instead of just one or two bigger meals per day.

Try stuffing a durable food-safe toy with complete & balanced dry and wet food soaked in water and then freezing. Not only will your pet love the challenge, their waistline will benefit from the avoided extra calories, and you’ll appreciate the convenience, simplicity and peace and quiet while they work to get all the tasty goodness out. For an extra tasty treat on a special occasion, try stuffing and freezing healthy, natural ingredients like natural yogurt, natural peanut butter or something delicious and seasonal.

Donate gently used pet supplies

We’ve all been guilty of over-consumption or buying a toy that your dog or cat simply doesn’t play with. Instead of tossing it in the trash, donate your gently used pet supplies to a local animal shelter. With so many pets in need, gently used items such as stainless steel food bowls, leashes, and beds are often readily accepted by pet rescue organizations.

Know your options when it comes to choosing a pet food

Every pet parent will agree that the goal is to help your dog or cat live their happiest and healthiest life. So, it pays to do a little bit of extra research when it comes to choosing your pet’s food. After all, at two (sometimes more!) meals a day, your pet’s food of choice is one of the key ways you can contribute to a greener planet.

Opt for a pet food brand that not only provides optimal nutrition for your pet, but that aligns with your own values and keeps sustainability at the forefront of their business. Companies that make real commitments to bettering our planet can be evidenced in various ways - from having a dedicated Sustainability Manager, to transparency in sharing their sustainability progress, to publicly-declared goals like switching to 100% recyclable packaging, and more. Petcurean, the company behind GO! SOLUTIONS and NOW FRESH, for example, is committed to sustainability across all areas of their business, from food donations to reducing plastic, to recently achieving carbon neutrality for Scopes 1 and 2 - all detailed in their second annual Sustainability Impact Report.

Choosing to live more sustainably for the ongoing good of our pets and our planet doesn’t have to be complicated. Together, we can all make small steps that make a big collective impact, and there are a number of pet companies out there to help support you on your mission to become a more sustainable pet parent.