We all want to contribute to a better world. For example, by separating our waste, taking the bike instead of the car more often, and buying sustainable products. But humans aren’t the only ones with an environmental footprint; pets leave their mark as well. How does your pet impact the climate and what can you do to limit the effects?
The climate impact of a pet
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a pet affects the climate. Your dog or cat needs food and you need certain things to take care of your pet. Apart from horses, dogs and cats have the largest ecological footprint of all pets. Several aspects contribute and food is the most important one.
Since food is the largest factor contributing to your pet’s climate impact, it makes sense to start there. Dogs and cats often eat meat, which is one of the reasons why their food has a greater environmental impact. Some owners choose to put their dog on a vegetarian diet for that reason. But cats cannot do without at least some meat. There are other reasons to put your dog on a vegetarian diet, such as food allergies.
What to keep in mind when choosing your pet food
There are several sustainable options when it comes to choosing what to feed your dog or cat. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Quality label – Some pet foods come with a quality label. Yarrah only uses organic products, meat with a Better Life label, and fish with an MSC label. Paying attention to pet food’s quality labels allows you to make a more conscious choice. Yarrah’s pet food is also free of animal testing.
Packaging – Another relevant factor is pet food packaging. It isn’t easy to find a good alternative to plastic packaging, but Yarrah’s pet food does come with a zipper at the top of the 2 kg and 2.4 kg bags. This allows you to reseal the bag, which extends the shelf life of the product.
Type of meat – Both meat by-products and muscle meat are suitable for pet food. Muscle meat is consumed by humans, meat by-products consist of residual meat that isn’t as suitable for human consumption. Yarrah uses this meat for its pet food which means no extra animals are slaughtered and nothing goes to waste. Plus, residual meat contains a lot of beneficial nutrients.
Kibble or canned – There is a difference between kibble and canned food. Generally speaking, kibble is considered more sustainable than canned food because it has a longer shelf life and its production has less of an environmental footprint than that of wet food. However, there are circumstances where wet food is recommended, for example when your cat isn’t drinking enough water.
Of course, food isn’t the only factor. When purchasing a puppy or a kitten, you will probably need to buy a lot of accessories, such as a basket, cage, litter box and toys. An alternative to buying them new is to buy second-hand accessories for your pet. A lot of products can be reused, especially once properly cleaned. Another option is to make your own toys. The article ‘Home-made toys for your pet’ explains how to do it.
Owning a cat means owning a litter box and dealing with cat litter. Not all cat litter is compostable and suitable for the biodegradable waste bin or the garden. Yarrah’s cat litter is made of 100% organic clay. Once used, it can be mixed into the soil in your garden. Sustainable cat litter options consist of renewable materials such as wood, corn or wheat stalks. Read the article ‘What to do with used cat litter and what are sustainable alternatives?’ for more information on this topic.
Adopt a pet
A final consideration. Many people want a certain breed or type of dog or cat. Although the character traits specific to a breed may appeal to you, this decision is worth a moment of pause. A lot of (pedigree) dogs and cats are stuck in shelters with no owner. Consider adopting instead of going for a breeder. Read more about this in the article ‘adopting from animal shelters’.