Thursday, October 1, 2009
By Julia Williams
What does it mean to “go green?” This phrase refers to the different things you can do to take better care of the planet and its resources. It means choosing eco-friendly behaviors and products over those that are harmful to both the environment and your health. When you go green, the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) become an integral part of your life.
Millions of consumers and businesses alike are making a conscious effort to go green, and the pet industry is no exception. Did you know that the CANIDAE Snap-Biscuit® and Snap-Bits™ dog treats are manufactured entirely by wind power? Wind energy doesn’t deplete natural resources and is renewed daily as the earth heats and cools. There are plenty of other earth-friendly pet products available too, such as hemp collars and leashes, natural cat litter, non-toxic dog toys, organic cat treats and natural supplements.
I think it’s important to go green for your pet’s health not just on Earth Day (April 22) but every day. Adopting a green lifestyle will reduce your pets’ carbon PAW print, and it can improve their health and wellbeing too. Many of the things you can do are not that difficult and don’t require a great deal of time or money. What follows are some ideas you may wish to consider.
* Use stainless steel bowls for your pet’s food and water instead of plastic. Studies have shown that BPA (Bisphenol A, a compound used to make many plastic containers) may pose a health risk.
* Natural pet-care beauty and grooming products (i.e., shampoo, ear washes and topical ointments) are generally considered to be gentler on your pet’s skin than chemical-based products.
* You may also want to choose natural cleaning products for your carpets and kitchen floors. Your pet’s nose and mouth are close to those surfaces all day long, and you don’t want them to be breathing in a residue that could be toxic. Plus, if they scarf up food you accidentally drop on the floor (my cats have lightning quick reflexes when it comes to dropped food!), they won’t ingest chemicals along with the tasty morsel.
* Plug-in deodorizers, synthetic air fresheners and cleaning supplies with chemical fragrances may be harmful to your pet. Freshen the air in your home naturally by opening the windows, taking the trash out every day, boiling or baking a sliced lemon or an orange, simmering cinnamon sticks or cloves, and setting out a bowl of lavender buds or an open box baking soda.
* Use filtered water instead of tap water, which can contain chlorine residue, fluoride and countless chemicals and contaminants. Incidentally, bottled water is not necessarily safer than your tap water; some bottled water is treated more than tap water, while some is treated less or not treated at all! If you can’t afford to install a filter on your faucet, you can use a filtration pitcher such as Brita. It won’t offer the same quality of filtration, but it’s better than no filter at all.
* Use natural products on your lawn, in your garden, and to de-ice your walkway in winter. Pesticides, chemical-based fertilizers, plant foods and pest repellents, and salt-based ice-melting products are believed to be unhealthy to humans, pets and the earth alike.
* Many people choose to use natural methods to fight fleas and ticks instead of chemical products applied to their pet’s skin or given orally. You could try an herbal flea and tick shampoo which contains citrus oils, and treat the yard with beneficial nematodes, natural pyrethrums and diatomaceous earth. For more ideas, read Linda Cole’s article, Natural Flea Control for Dogs and Cats.
* Grow your own catnip and/or cat grass for your kitty.
* Make your own pet toys from scraps of fabric, bits of yarn and other things you were going to throw away. You can also use readily available materials found in your home – anything that rolls, bounces or makes noise is a great cat toy. For more ideas, read How to Save Money on Cat Toys.
* Dispose of doggie doo in biodegradable bags instead of plastic bags, which can take anywhere from 20 to 1,000 years to decompose! If you have a cat litter box, you could fill it with eco-friendly litters such as those made from corn, wheat, pine or newspaper.
* Do some spring cleaning and donate towels, bedding, blankets and such to your local animal shelter. They may need other household items as well, so call them and ask!
* Buy your dog food and cat food in the biggest size available. You’ll save gas by making fewer trips to your local pet store, and you’ll also cut down on packaging waste.
Read more articles by Julia Williams