You may not think about it, but chances are if you have a dog you're creating excess waste. And no, we're not just talking about when your pup -œdoes its business- in the back yard - although we'll get to that too. From food bags to toys you end up throwing away, your dog may not be a great friend of the earth - but we'll help you fix that.
1. Waste is a waste
If your dog's main mode of relieving themselves is when you walk them, consider how many bags you use to clean up after them each day. Even if you have a yard, chances are you clean up after them with plastic bags at least on occasion. IF you're truly brave, you could add dog waste to a composting bin or heap to avoid the landfill altogether. A more likely option is to be conscientious of the types of bags you're using and how many. Re-use bags you get at the grocery store, so you'll be at least be getting second use out of them. If you don't use plastic bags, or if you live somewhere that has banned plastic bags, you might have to get more creative. Not all the doggie waste bags out there are designed to be bio-degradable, but these corn-based doggie waste bags (http://www.poopbags.com) sure are!
2. Cut back on food trash
You could choose to buy organic food which is often made according to sustainable practices, like NaturaPet (http://www.naturapet.com). If that's a little too much for you, consider the type of food that you do buy. Can you buy larger quantities to avoid having to dispose of a lot of little bags? Can you mix your dog's food with human food like rice or ground beef to give them a little variety and cut back on the amount of food that you have to buy? Thinking before your purchase will help ensure that you're making the most green decision.
3. Don't buy throw-away toys
We know, we know, those little squeeky stuffed animals are just so cute! And your pup probably loves tearing up the plastic chew toys. But once they've had their fun (which for my dogs usually lasts all of 10 seconds), you'll have to throw those used toys away. Edible chew toys or toys that last longterm are much better options. Things like Bully sticks or pig ears are good choices as are less-destructible toys like balls or ropes.
If you're one of those pet owners who love to to dress up Fido, consider the source before buying. Just like with our clothes, the idea of "disposable attire" isn't very eco-friendly. Fortunately there are organic cotton t-shirt options available on basic sites like CafePress and American Apparel (http://pets.cafepress.com/item/do-not-feed-dog-tshirt/110540205). Eco-friendly/organic clothiers are springing up for your pooch as well. The new online store, Earth's Best Friend offers jackets made out of organic, recycled and sustainable fabrics, including one garment made from recycled, authentic Japanese kimonos.
5. How do you shop?
Just like running errands for our human necessities, running out (or ordering) every time you're out of treats, food or toys is just a waste — especially if you're doing these one-off errands in the car. Of course, sometimes emergencies arise, but if you plan ahead you can "bundle" your trips out and make sure you get everything all at once. You may even be able to include errands for yourself — like groceries, dry cleaning, etc.