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8 Ways to Be a More Earth-Friendly Pet Owner

8 Ways to Be a More Earth-Friendly Pet Owner
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Yay for you! You’re ditching plastic straws like so many other people this year. Taking big steps to reduce your carbon footprint is great, but how are you helping your pet do the same?

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There are easy, everyday things you and your cutie can do to help protect the planet. From choosing eco-friendly cat or dog toys to disposing of pet waste with Mother Nature in mind, read on for more ways to help your pet leave the Earth exactly how they sniffed, er, found it.

1. Recycle dog and cat food cans every time.
If you diligently recycle packaging from the stuff you buy for your home — such as delivery boxes, yogurt cups or plastic bottles — you should make the same effort for the packaging that comes with pet-food products. Wet food cans are easily recycled, and there is at least one company on the market making the effort to recycle those plastic dry food bags. Many companies also use post-consumer recycled content in their packaging, so do your research and select brands that are as eco-conscious as you are.

2. Get smart about poop disposal.
Plastic bags are so last decade — it’s time to stop using them for cleaning poop off the ground or scooping waste out of your cat’s litter box. Make a point to buy bags that are made from recycled materials or biodegradable so they won’t stick around forever. (It can take 1,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose, think about that.)

Confused by the selection at your pet store? Look for the words “biodegradable” and “compostable” on the box. If you’re a feline household, choose a kitty litter that is made from biodegradable ingredients, such as wheat, wood or corn. Biodegradable litter boxes, made of eco-friendly paper, are also a great option.

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3. Reusable grocery bags aren’t just for the grocery store anymore!
When you hit the pet store, bring those bags with you. Find ones that you like, keep them in an easy-to-remember and convenient location, like your car or near your front door. Do this and your home will quickly become a plastic bag-free zone.

4. Donate pet products to animal shelters.
Before you toss that tattered leash in the trash, ask yourself, “How many more miles are left on this puppy?” If you’re simply ready for something new, then the answer is “lots and lots more!”

Gather any gently used or no longer coveted pet items — such as toys, beds or bowls — and donate them to an animal shelter. There are plenty of adoptable pets out there who will gladly take them for a spin as they wait for a forever home. Towels and blankets are also items that animals shelters are always in need of.

5. Spay or neuter your pets.
Bob Barker says it best: Help control the pet population — have your pets spayed or neutered. It sounds so simple, but many people still don’t do it. If you’re one of them, consider this: 6 million to 8 million cats and dogs enter animal shelters each year, according to The Humane Society of the United States. Just think of all the waste that is produced caring for each and every one of them.

6. Take more walks with your pet.
When you need a few things from the corner store, opt for the leash instead of the car keys. Walks outside are beneficial to your health, that of your dog, and the health of our environment (less car emissions means more of our ozone layer!) If walking to your destination is out of the question, consider public transportation.

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7. Buy or make eco-friendly toys or accessories.
It’s no secret that manufacturers are making products with our planet in mind, so look for pet items made from sustainable fabrics, stuffed with organic ingredients, or colored with vegetable dyes.

There are tons of creative options out there if you take the time to look for them — and all of them are way more green than tossing your dog an empty plastic bottle to chew. If you’re the crafty type, fashion a one-of-a-kind toy for that special fur kid in your life out of something you no longer need. Take a Pinterest deep dive for a slew of great DIY ideas for dogs and cats.

8. Use eco-friendly pet grooming and cleaning products.
Natural is always best! If you can avoid putting chemicals (that you probably can’t pronounce) into our ecosystem and onto your precious pet, that’s definitely a good thing. It’s easier than ever before to buy non-toxic pet products made with ingredients that are safe for animals, so make it your mission to go organic and pay attention to what’s inside those bottles you bring home.

Us Weekly articles and content are for informational purposes only. Nothing contained in Us Weekly articles and/or content is or should be considered, or used as a substitute for, veterinary or professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you believe your pet may have a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

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