You hear statistics all the time about how many plastic water bottles get used daily, the thousands of acres cut down for a Sunday newspaper, and how many pounds of trash the average American creates a year (over 1500, just in case you hadn’t heard), but what about non-humans? Because they’re animals, we think of our pets as environmentally neutral, but in America, our cats and dogs can be as environmentally hazardous as humans—or, almost. The things you buy your pets can have as positive or negative an impact on the earth as any human product. Since toxins, organic ingredients, and carbon impact affect them too, new green products for pets have thankfully become more popular in recent years. Not everything in the following list is a brand new innovation, but they’re all products you should know about as an eco-conscious pet owner.
- Bedding that matters. New green products appear all of the time, but the best are those with a holistic approach to going green. When Wal-Mart decided to reduce its packaging on certain generic cleaners, it resulted in a positive, environmental impact, but the chemicals they continued to use will continue to pollute the earth. Some pet beds use recycled fibers or a few organic materials. That remains an improvement compared to most commercial beds, but he best will only use sustainable materials. Recent pet beds have emerged with covers woven with organic cotton and filling made from recycled bottles.
- Safe plastic. The European Union and over a dozen other countries have banned PVC plastic, because it leaches out chemicals with proven health risks. To the detriment of American households, the U.S. still allows the material, which is used in many toys—especially dog toys. Materials like Styrofoam are only dangerous when they degrade over thousands of years. PVC leaches toxins the minute it’s produced, which is why many new green products serve as substitutions for PVC materials. Dogs love plastic chews, but for their safety and yours, make sure their toys contain no PVC.
- Safe cleaners. Ironically, some of the most dangerous and toxic materials in houses are those used for cleaning. Most of them do a good job at eradicating germs and bacteria, but they leave behind harmful chemicals that enter the air and contaminate foods. Even soaps and shampoos can pose health risks in the long run. So whether you’re cleaning their messes or giving them a bath, look for new green products for your pets that neither harm their skin nor pollute their environment.
- Sustainable food. It was revealed not too long ago that, like some humans, a lot of cats and dogs can’t process and digest gluten properly. Since wheat is a notorious filler ingredient in most pet food, the more conscientious owners began buying meat and vegetable based foods. Those brands are good for their health but aren’t always environmentally friendly. The meat industry is among the worst environmental offenders, so even if you avoid big name frozen chicken, you might still feed their products to your pets. It’s not available in every major pet store, but food is available that uses primarily organic and local ingredients. These new green products avoid the wheat and corn filler that harms pets and still practice sustainable farming that’s good for the earth.