Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Earth Day: How to be a green dog owner

I've been a long time not-so-secret fan of eco-blogs like Treehugger and Hippyshopper, and today they really come into their own for Earth Day. As dog owners, there's no reason at all why we can't uphold the principles and practices events like Earth Day encourage. In fact, it's easy and not particularly expensive to do so.

For one, a quick Google search reveals that there are many online retailers now offering eco-friendly dog toys such as hemp chew ropes and soft dumbells made of recycled material as well as beds incorporating a high proportion of post-consumer waste.

What about the eternal poo conundrum (a sentence I never thought I'd write!)?! We dutifully scoop up our pets', erm, deposits, but then throw away the very biodegradable waste sealed tight in a plastic bag that might take up to 100 years to decompose. More and more supermarkets are turning to bags for life and reusable shoppers so we might not even have a ready stock of carrier bags to reuse soon. Again, a speedy search reveals that quite a few companies are already thinking of solutions. One example is BioBags, which created bags in response to the Scottish Dog Fouling Act that degrade along with their contents over a couple of months. Don't be fooled into thinking biodegradable poop scoop bags won't be just as good at reducing smell and holding contents - they're just as strong and effective.

If your dog uses the garden rather than the public highways, there are other ways of dealing with waste, too. Dog bacterial toilet systems have been around for years; I remember a primary school friend's Westie, Jock, using one like this back in the 80s.

Don't forget that the other end of the digestive system can also be more eco-friendly! There are plenty of dog foods that are grown without hormones and pesticides, so organic pet food is always a possibility. Or if you're a vegetarian who's focussed on reducing the amount of grain grown for animal feed, you can get grain-free pet foods produced in sustainable ways. Also handy if you spent last week busily sweeping chometz out of the house for Pesach! Of course, you can also make your own dog food cheaply by simply making a little extra of what's already in your kitchen, ensuring that you do your research and your dog gets the right amounts of protein, carbohydrate and fat. Discussions about that have been all over the DoggySnaps forums recently, so you know where to go for advice.

For more tips and ideas, use a search engine to get started or check out blogs like PupLife who have a handy top five list of ways to improve your green dog ownership.

Now turn off the computer to save energy and go take your dog for a walk!
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