You love your salty dog. But is Rover ocean-friendly? Remember, furry-family members have an environmental impact too! Check out these 4 sustainable pet practices to ensure you’re making ocean-friendlier choices when it comes to your critters.
1. Taking Care of Business
The Problem: Dangers of pet poop Contamination. Did you know…?
- American dogs and cats create 10 million tons of waste a year.
- Pet waste is harmful to water supplies. Rain washes pet waste carrying harmful bacteria to rivers, beaches, and bays via storm drains and pet poop is consistently found on beaches around the world. Enough bacteria can cause water to be unsafe for drinking and swimming, and can contribute to the destruction of shellfish beds.
Sustainable Solution: Always pick up after your pet! Prevent pet waste being left to contaminate the coastline by scooping up your doggy’s doo in biodegradable poop bags so it isn’t immortalized in a plastic bag for hundreds of years. Never put pet waste in a storm drain, as they empty directly to a local water body. Instead, place the poop in a recycled and biodegradable bag or bury it in your yard at least 5 inches in the ground and away from vegetable gardens and waterways. For a more comprehensive solution, consider investing in a pet waste compost system or, even better, make your own DIY one!
The Problem: Cat litter can contain pathogens harmful to marine life. Not only is clay strip-mined (bad for the planet), but the clay sediment is also permeated with carcinogenic silica dust that can coat little kitty lungs (bad for the cat). Avoid clumping clay litter at all costs—the sodium bentonite acts as the clumping agent found in expanding cement and can swell up to 18 times their dry size and clog up your cat’s insides when ingested due to their fastidious need to groom.
Sustainable Solution: Never flush cat litter which would flow directly into the ocean. Always use Eco-friendly cat litters to avoid these problems. I recommend Swheat Scoop, a wheat-based cat litter made without clays and chemicals; it’s fragrance-free, biodegradable, and even flushable!
2. Minimize Your Plastics Use!
The Problem: Plastic products are overwhelmingly prevalent in our modern, everyday lives and these plastics end up as ocean debris: one of the major causes of ocean pollution and marine habitat destruction today.
Sustainable Solution: Take advantage of this opportunity to cut down on your plastics use by choosing pet accessories and toys made from recycled materials or sustainable fibers such as hemp. A hemp collar (with a matching leash) is a rocking accessory for an ocean-conscious mutt. You can even find pet beds made with organic cotton or recycled PET bottles.
- Pine cones make great cat toys
- Cool hemp products can be found here
- Check out this Eco-friendly boutique for pet accessories
3. Scrub Your Animal Clean With Ocean-Friendly Products
The Problem: Chemicals such as pesticides and household cleaners can find their way into water sources and eventually into the sea, moving through the food chain and causing animals to get sick.
Sustainable Solution: Be sure you are using pet care products that are eco-friendly, gentle on the planet and not harmful to the ocean. Purchase organic when possible and limit chemicals in personal and pet use. Some of my favorite natural pet products include Pitaya’s eco-vegan furcareand Cloud Star’s Buddy Wash.
4. Aquatic Critters
The Problem: Some techniques used for collecting wild, brightly-colored fish that inhabit coral reefs are highly destructive to the reefs – unsustainable collectors use poison, dynamite, or rocks dragged on ropes. This kills enormous numbers of fish for the few that wind up in stores and destroys their habitat as well. Fish can cause a problem later too. If “flushed” fish survive, they can spread potentially devastating diseases to wild fish, or become invasive and destroy entire ecosystems.
Sustainable Solution: Consider the ocean when making your pet fish choices. Avoid stocking your aquarium with wild-caught saltwater fish, unless the dealer can tell you the exact region and source the fish came from. Since harmful techniques are used most extensively in the Philippines, the safest choice is simply not to buy any fish from this region. When you’re sick of Goldie, find your fish a loving new home. Don’t just flush ‘em!
Check out these websites for more information on Eco-friendly pet practices and to educate yourself on other animal and environmental impacts, like light pollution affecting sea turtles.