Are you zero waste living with pets? Cutting back waste when it comes to our pets can be the last thing on our minds. After all, how much waste do they actually produce?
From food bags to littler to treats to poop bags and so on, our fur babies can actually produce a lot of waste.
While I’ll be the first to tell you, I don’t think it’s possible to live 100% zero waste with pets, I do think (and know) that it’s possible to significantly reduce their waste.
This post will focus on dogs and cats as these are the most common pets and the ones I have experience with. Though I’m sure a few of these tips can be tweaked to apply to other pets as well!
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Zero Waste living with pets:
1. Poop Bags
Traditional poop bags are just plastic. To skip the bag altogether you could use something like a small shovel or pooper scooper. You could also use scrap paper or newspaper to pick up your dog’s poop.
If you’d like to keep using a bag, you should opt for compostable poop bags. Not biodegradable, but compostable so you can compost it yourself!
2. Bathing your dog
Skip buying dog shampoos and soap altogether. Seriously, unless for medical reasons your dog needs a special shampoo, warm water will work just fine! Dog fur is actually great at self-cleaning and balancing PH levels on its own.
3. Buy second-hand
When it comes to collars, leashes, and other dog accessories, check to see if you can get them second-hand! Thrift stores usually carry a lot of these kinds of things. Just make sure to thoroughly disinfect the items you buy!
You could also check with family and friends that own dogs or on Kijiji or craigslist.
4. DIY toys or toys made to last
Old stuffies make great dog toys! (Just be sure there are no small pieces that can be choked on)
Sustainable toys can be harder to find, so when purchasing be sure to get toys that are built strong and to last.
Food is naturally going to be one of the hardest places to cut back on when it comes to your pet. I can only offer a few ideas and then it’s up to you to do your research.
Some places have started offering bulk dog food. I imagine this is a luxury since I haven’t heard of it where I am in Canada. Another idea would be to look for brands that use tin or paper bags that can easily be recycled.
Now to deal with the poop itself. You might think tossing it in a garbage bin and sending it to the landfill is the right solution but it won’t actually break down and could hard water supplies.
A great way to deal with your dog waste would be to compost it! Now, please do full research before you do this because it can’t be tossed in your countertop bin or even your backyard bin UNLESS it’s a worm compost bin. You can also check with your city/town’s compost rules to see if pet waste is allowed.
Alternatively, you could bury your dog’s poop in your yard! You just want to make sure it’s not anywhere near where you’re planting veggies. (If you’re planting veggies.)
Fur is something you might not think you have to do anything with and you’re right. You don’t really have to do anything with pet hair. But if your dog sheds a lot you can compost the fur!
Other Sustainable Dog Items
Similar to dogs, cat food may be hard to reduce waste. My cat is on food that I can only get at the vet and it’s impossible to avoid the plastic bag. If your cat doesn’t need any special food, try to see if you can find it in bulk, paper bags, or in tins.
The sourcing of litter is actually harmful to the environment. Clay-based litters are sourced using something called strip-mining that leads to deforestation, loss of wildlife habitat, erosion, and depletion of natural minerals. (Source)
TofuKittyClub is a great all-natural litter.
Alternatively, you could use sand, sawdust, mulch, or even dirt for your kitty litter! It may take your cat a while to get used to it but it’s still in their natural instinct to do their business in natural elements.
Exactly like what I mentioned above for dogs! Animal poop ending up in our landfills isn’t great. Try the suggestions above!
4. Make homemade treats
Some people suggest trying to make your pet’s food at home. I’m not entirely comfortable with that as I want to be sure my pets are getting their full nutrition.
Treats, however, can be a lot easier to make! Since treats are exactly that, a treat! They don’t need to have your cats’ full nutritional value. Check out some recipes online and give it a try!
Cats may be the easiest pet to please when it comes to toys. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve spent on cat toys and my cat still prefers to play with a shoestring. You can even make your own scratching post using an old piece of wood and some rope!
So use what you have! Shoestrings, milk caps, rubber bands, etc.
Or, check out these sustainable cat toys!
There you have my best zero waste living with pets tips!
I don’t think it’s possible to live 100% zero-waste with pets. And that’s something that I’ve accepted. My life would be a whole lot sadder and emptier without my pets and I’m not willing to give them up for the sake of the being perfectly zero-waste.
That being said, it is possible to minimize our impact when it comes to our pets! It’s all about making conscious and thoughtful decisions. Don’t beat yourself up if your pet’s food comes in a plastic bag! It’s ok, we need to accept that we can’t be perfect but not let it stop us from trying!
Thank you for reading! Don’t forget to share this post with all your pet loving friends and follow me on Instagram for daily low waste living inspiration!