Earth Day is approaching and what better time is there to “think green” where your pets are concerned? Here are some things you can do to be an eco-conscious pet owner starting now and throughout the year.
- Biodegradable poop bags and kitty litter: Dog waste is full of harmful bacteria that can find its way from a storm drain into the water system. You can only imagine the potential health and environmental hazards associated with this. Be sure to always pick up after your dog and dispose of waste in the trash using biodegradable bags instead of regular plastic bags whenever you can. Organic, biodegradable plant-based litter and litter made from pine wood pellets, recycled newspaper, clumping sawdust, barley and dried orange peel can also be used in your cat’s litter box. The benefit here is that you can safely compost the used, biodegradable litter at home.
- *Compost your dog’s waste: In your yard, you can use an old plastic garbage can to compost your dog’s waste.
- First, drill about a dozen holes in the side
- Cut out the bottom
- Dig a hole in the ground, deep enough for the garbage can
- Toss some rocks or gravel in the hole for drainage and position the can so it’s a little higher than the soil level
- Place the lid on top and label what’s inside
- Scoop some poop, put it in the hole, sprinkle in some septic starter (available at hardware stores) and add some water. Within 48 hours, the septic tank starter will help the poop biodegrade and flow into the subsoil.
Note: Never put the dog or cat feces in your garden compost.
- Organic or natural food/treats: Natural and organic dog and cat treats can be found in organic markets or health food stores. Some can also be ordered online. They should include natural sources of protein and may contain whole grains, fruits and vegetables, along with vitamins and minerals. If you want to make your own, there are recipes online for dog cookies and dog/cat snacks and treats. Talk with your veterinarian if organic or natural treats are right for your pet.
- Toys made from recyclable materials: Why buy a scratching post for your cat when you can make one at home with cardboard, scrap plywood or recycled packing materials? You can also easily make a mouse or catnip toy too just by stuffing an old sock and sewing it up. If your dog likes to play tug-o-war, and you can find a thick rope around the house, knot each end and it’s perfect for each of you to grab an end and pull. A large plastic coffee can cover might make a fun disc your dog can chase and fetch when thrown. Instructions for all of these projects can be found online. There are plenty of things you can make at home. Just use your imagination.
- Natural pet cleaning products: Many healthy, green and effective pet cleaning products are available on the market that are nontoxic, biodegradable and petroleum-free. Homemade cleaners such as vinegar and water work wonders as an all-purpose cleaner on practically everything. Vinegar is a great disinfectant. Baking soda can be used with a wet sponge for scrubbing, and if you add a touch of vinegar, you’ll get a disinfecting agent as well. Duct tape is good for picking up pet hair. Use a mild, non-toxic dish detergent to get your pet’s urine smell or doggy odor out of the carpet fibers. Follow up with a sprinkle of baking soda on the rug, vaccum and you’re good to go.
*Source: Excerpted with permission from “Dog waste composter, a backyard solution to your dog waste woes,” by Marion Owen. Plan Tea, Inc. Kodiak, Alaska. www.plantea.com/dog-waste-compost.htm. Accessed March 6, 2012.