How to care for your pet in a sustainable way
More and more people are concerned about the world of tomorrow and choose to contribute to a more sustainable future. There are various ways to do this, e.g. adjusting your home or driving an EV. But you can also take some smaller steps to make a difference, such as caring for your pet in a sustainable way. These tips and tricks will help increase your impact dramatically.
Have you ever heard of the term ‘carbon footprint’? It refers to your ecological impact on this earth. The average person in the Netherlands has a carbon footprint of around 6.2 hectares. But the global availability amounts to just 1.8 hectares per person, so is important to do what you can to minimize your footprint. Ways of reducing your footprint include:
- Reducing your consumption of meat, fish and other animal-based products.
- Flying less.
- Choosing for public transport instead of your car more often.
- Making your home more energy-efficient and being conscious about your power consumption.
Are you curious about your ecological footprint? The website carbonfootprint.com allows you to calculate exactly how much you leave behind while improving information about reducing your footprint.
The footprint of your pet
As you may have gathered, pets and other animals have an ecological footprint just like we do. The scope of their footprint depends on many different factors. One of those factors is their food. A large dog eats more than a smaller one. Brenda and Robert Vale are researchers at Cambridge University who study sustainability, the ecological footprint and related topics. In 2009, they published a controversial book titled ‘Time to Eat the Dog?’ The Real Guide to Sustainable Living’. One of the things they did in this book is to research the footprint of pets. They analysed food production costs as well as other things you’ll need as a pet owner. Although it is impossible to pinpoint the exact footprint of an individual pet, a large dog is likely to consume 0.36 hectares and a small dog about half, around 0.18. A cat is considered to have a footprint of 0.13 hectares per year.
Sustainable pet food
Food is the most important factor when calculating the ecological footprint of your pet. The food consumed by your dog or cat has the highest environmental impact. Dogs and cats are usually fed meat. And for cats, meat is an absolute necessity. But that does mean that their diet has a higher impact on the environment than feed for rabbits and hamsters, for example, which is plant-based. Unfortunately, there is no way around it: cats really need meat. Dogs can stick to a vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian diet. This can even be a necessity sometimes, for example when the dog suffers from a food allergy. When it comes to the food of your pet, you can make various choices to contribute to the world around you. This includes:
- Organic food. Yarrah makes organic pet food. The entire production process of the food has to be organic in order for us to carry this label. This means that the food meets certain legal requirements. Read all about it in the article “What does organic mean and what is organic food?”.
- Kibble instead of wet food. Kibble is a lot less damaging to the environment and it has a longer shelf life, which helps avoid waste. Want to learn more? Check out the article: “Wet food or kibble, what is more sustainable?”
- Quality labels. There are various quality labels for pet food, including the Better Life quality label for meat, the Skal Bio label and various labels for fish. Reading up on the meaning of these quality labels will help you make a sustainable choice at the supermarket.
Accessories for your pet
When welcoming a pet into your home, you will have to purchase a wide range of items such as a basket or a cage for a dog and a litterbox and a scratching post for a cat. Other items include food bowls, a collar, a leash, toys and stuffed animals. Did you know that many of these things are available second hand, and of high quality at that? Why don’t you snoop around on websites where second-hand items are on offer and take a look at the thrift shop. Seeking second-hand items is a good way of contributing to a better world while saving some money for other things. Win-win!
Did you know you can make a lot of things yourself? Create sustainable toys by recycling old materials, such as toilet rolls for food toys and old T-shirts or sheets for a snuffle mat. Do you want to make your own fun and sustainable toys? Let us inspire you in the blog “4 sustainable toys for your dog or cat”!
Adopt, don’t shop
During the corona crisis, many future pet owners found their way to the animal shelter. If you’re considering a pet, the shelter is a great place to find your new buddy. The shelter houses sweet animals in need of a golden basket. Giving these animals a new home is a great way to invest in a ‘new’ pet. There is a lot of demand for pets, especially dogs, and criminals are keen to profit by running so-called puppy mills. This involves using dogs as breeding machines, often in Eastern Europe, in order to produce puppies non-stop. The circumstances that these animals live in are awful and the pups are often transported much too young. This has some dire consequences. Adopting a puppy from a puppy mill means that you are helping this industry survive. That is why it is better to opt for a rescue from the shelter.
Don’t need it? Give it away!
You may reach a point where some things are no longer needed, such as a large stockpile of food because your pet needs to switch to a different diet. Or certain items and accessories after your pet has passed away. Keep in mind that these items can still be used. Consider donating sealed food packaging to the pet food bank or the shelter. They may also be very happy with your litter box and toys. In addition, you can find various marketplace pages on social media. Post your food or other pet accessories there before discarding it, to give it a second life and avoid waste.