Reduce Your Carbon Pawprint: 8 Simple Eco-Friendly Resolutions For Pet Parents

Looking for some practical ways to live a bit more sustainably? Well, look no further! These eco-friendly resolutions for pet parents are fun, useful, and easy to implement!

three dogs in front of wall covered in flowers

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How Big Is Our Collective Carbon Pawprint

Whether you are finding this post at the start of the new year or it’s the middle of summer, there’s no time like the present to incorporate some new eco-friendly pet parenting practices into your life.

If you don’t have time to get into all the details right now, save the below list for later.

title of 5 ways to reduce your carbon pawprint with image of mini dapple dachshund dog standing on rock in woods

The reality is our beloved fur babies, while sources of joy and companionship, do have environmental implications. For example, based on a global environmental impact study of pet food conducted by the University of Edinburgh, dry pet food production is associated with 1.1-2.9% of all agricultural emissions.

To put this another way, if pet food production were a country, it would be the 60th highest greenhouse-emitting country in the world!

And with all this food comes…well, poop. On average, a dog produces between 150 to 275 lbs (68 – 125 kg) of poop per year. This translates into 415 billion dog poop bags used globally every year to clean up after our pups.

On top of this, the pet industry also adds to the environmental load through the production of toys, accessories, and packaging.

mass-produced dog toys on display in store

Acknowledging these factors is the first step towards a more sustainable pet parenting approach. The second step is to implement some eco-friendly resolutions for pet parents that fit into your life.

Eco-friendly Resolutions for Pet Parents

The reality is we need some big, sweeping changes at the global, government, and corporate levels to address the Climate Change crisis.

However, this doesn’t let individuals off the hook. And with a few thoughtful changes, pet parents can do their part, reducing their impact and fostering a more sustainable lifestyle.

Here are some changes I’ve started to make in my life with Phoebe, Franklin, and Froda. Not only have we reduced our waste, we have also created some new and unique memories together!

1. Seek Out Sustainable Pet Products

Choosing sustainable pet products is a significant step in reducing your pet’s environmental pawprint. Begin by seeking out items made from eco-friendly materials, such as olive wood, natural resin, organic cotton, hemp, natural rubber, and recycled plastics.

10% Discount
  • 100% olive wood
  • 3 sizes
  • 10% off with code GREENPETPROJECT
  • 100% pre-consumer recycled cotton
  • Includes 6 toys
  • Supports small business
  • Availability: United Kingdom
  • 100% reclaimed materials salvaged from the fashion industry
  • 3 colors / 2 sizes
  • Supports small business
  • Availability: United States
10% Discount
  • 10% off with code GREENPETPROJECT
  • 100% pre-consumer recycled cotton
  • Includes 6 toys
  • Supports small business
  • Availability: United Kingdom
  • 100% reclaimed materials salvaged from the fashion industry
  • 3 colors / 2 sizes
  • Supports small business
  • Availability: United States

Embrace products crafted from upcycled materials, offering a second life to unused resources, such as fashion fabric waste. And when selecting toys or accessories, check for BPA-free and PVC-free labels to ensure a safer option for your pet.

It is also important to be mindful of packaging. Specifically, opt for products with minimal or plastic-free packaging to reduce waste.

Durability is also a crucial factor when it comes to sustainable choices. Consider your dog’s needs and level of destructive tendencies to prevent products from ending up in landfills prematurely.

Finally, supporting eco-conscious brands is another impactful way to make a difference. Look for certifications like Certified B Corporation (B-Corp), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), or Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) on pet products.

sustainable company certification labels

These labels guarantee that the items meet specific environmental and ethical standards throughout their entire lifecycle, from sourcing to production. By making thoughtful choices, you contribute to a more sustainable and Earth-friendly pet lifestyle.

For more information on how to shop for sustainable dog toys, check out my post on safe dog chew toys.

2. Make Dog Treats at Home

Creating dog treats at home provides several advantages for both you and your pup. One of the key benefits is having precise control over the ingredients, ensuring that your dog enjoys a wholesome and nutritious snack. This is especially beneficial if your dog has specific dietary needs or allergies, as you can tailor treats to their unique requirements.

This approach also grants you the freedom to select local, organic, and natural ingredients. You can support local businesses while minimizing your carbon footprint by reducing transportation-related impacts.

Additionally, by choosing package-free ingredients, you are reducing the waste typically generated by store-bought treats.

And there is another wonderful advantage that comes with homemade treats. The act of preparing treats at home fosters a stronger bond between you and your pet. Trust me, it really, really does!

Your pup will undoubtedly appreciate the love and effort put into crafting a treat made just for them. Phoebe, Franklin, and Froda get so excited when I head into the kitchen with their silicon treat molds.

Plus, involving your dog in the process can be a fun and engaging activity, creating shared moments of joy and anticipation. I actively include my three pups in the preparation process, and they have all become masters in quality assurance.

If you need a place to start when it comes to making dog treats at home, check out my growing list of easy, healthy, and delicious recipes.

homemade dog treats on wooden serving board

Xtra Health Tip: Always check with your veterinarian before introducing new foods. Like people, all dogs are different, and their tolerance for these ingredients depends on numerous factors including age, allergies, health conditions, and more.

3. Pick the Right Poop Bag

Selecting the right dog poop bag is a crucial daily decision for eco-conscious pet parents. While there are four main types of poop bags — plastic, recycled plastic, biodegradable, and compostable — not all are created equal in terms of environmental impact.

At first glance, biodegradable and compostable bags may seem like the most eco-friendly options, but the reality is more nuanced.

Many biodegradable poop bags are marketed as environmentally friendly without adhering to any official standards. It’s essential to note that only poop bags labeled as compostable, meeting standards like ASTM D6400 or EN 13432, adhere to stringent specifications.

These bags are designed to break down naturally without leaving plastic remnants. However, they require specific conditions, as in those only found in home or local composting facilities. Unfortunately, when placed in landfills, compostable bags can release harmful greenhouse gases.

If you lack access to a composting facility and dispose of your dog’s waste in the trash, it’s advisable to opt for bags made from recycled plastics to minimize your environmental impact.

box of recycled plastic dog poop bags

The world of poop bags is so much more complicated than I ever realized, so I did a TON of research and wrote a pretty lengthy post on the topic. So, check it out here if you want to further educate yourself.

And here are some options to get you started.

10% Discount
  • 65% post-consumer recycled plastic
  • For those that don’t have a home or local compost option
  • B-Corp & Leaping Bunny Cruelty-Free Certified
  • 10% off with code GREENPETPROJECT
  • 50% recycled HDPE plastic and 25% natural oyster shell waste, certified by the Global Recycled Standard
  • For those that do not have a home or local compost option
  • Supports small business
  • Availability: United Kingdom
  • USDA, EN 13432, & TUV OK HOME Compost certified
  • For those that have a home or local compost option
  • 65% post-consumer recycled plastic
  • For those that don’t have a home or local compost option
  • B-Corp & Leaping Bunny Cruelty-Free Certified
10% Discount
  • 10% off with code GREENPETPROJECT
  • 50% recycled HDPE plastic and 25% natural oyster shell waste, certified by the Global Recycled Standard
  • For those that do not have a home or local compost option
  • Supports small business
  • Availability: United Kingdom
  • USDA, EN 13432, & TUV OK HOME Compost certified
  • For those that have a home or local compost option

4. Craft a DIY Dog Toy

Crafting DIY dog toys not only provides your pup with personalized entertainment but can also significantly help you reduce waste in a of couple ways.

First, this approach can reduce your reliance on buying new toys that will sooner or later end up in a landfill (sooner if your pup is anything like Froda). Additionally, you can repurpose items around the house that you might have otherwise discarded.

Beyond socks, you can also repurpose worn-out denim into sturdy chew toys or create a braided rope toy from old T-shirts. These homemade toys not only save money but also offer a sustainable alternative to store-bought options.

I love making dog toys at home, and they consistently become prized possessions among my pups. For some ideas, check out my DIY dog toy posts here.

diy sock octopus dog toys sitting on tree

5. Join the secondhand economy

Embracing the secondhand economy is another very impactful eco-friendly resolution for pet parents. Platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, OfferUp, and Wallapop, as well as community efforts like Buy Nothing, provide excellent avenues for buying and selling used dog products.

Fun fact, I previously led the product and design teams at a global online secondhand marketplace. So I know a lot about this topic and can attest to the wonderful, waste-reducing impact the secondhand economy has in a world fueled by consumerism and mass consumption.

When purchasing secondhand items, look for durable products that can withstand wear and tear, such as collars, leashes, and pet carriers. These items often retain their functionality even with previous use.

Similarly, when selling or donating pet products that you no longer use, focus on items that are still in good condition and can serve other pet parents well. For example, dog accessories like beds, bowls, and grooming tools are often sought after.

By participating in the secondhand economy, you not only reduce your individual ecological pawprint but also contribute to a more circular and sustainable approach to pet parenting in general. It’s a win-win situation that benefits both your wallet and the environment.

mini dapple dachshund puppy in dog carrier

6. Don’t Drive to Your Walk

Opting for local dog walks over driving to a dog park holds numerous benefits. First and foremost, walking close to home reduces your carbon pawprint by minimizing the need for car travel.

Beyond the environmental impact, local walks offer unique advantages for your dog. Exploring familiar surroundings provides mental stimulation and helps your pet feel more secure. Dogs thrive on routine and familiarity, making a neighborhood stroll an enriching experience.

Moreover, local walks allow your dog to interact with the immediate community, fostering socialization skills. Meeting neighbors and other dogs on your regular route enhances your pet’s social well-being.

It’s a holistic approach that combines environmental consciousness with the well-being of your dog.

And let me be honest. Franklin’s highlight on a walk is smelling a wall that’s been peed on. We certainly don’t need to jump into a car to find that!

pug mix dog in bamboo forest

7. Grow Dog-Friendly, Native Plants

Planting native species in your garden is a powerful commitment to the well-being of your local environment. Beyond adding aesthetic value, native plants play a crucial role in supporting biodiversity by providing food and habitat for local wildlife.

Adapted to local climates, they are hardy and resilient, requiring less maintenance and water, making them a sustainable choice. The presence of native plants also attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies, contributing to the overall health of local ecosystems.

Additionally, choosing native species helps prevent the spread of invasive plants that can disrupt local ecosystems. The deep root systems of many native plants promote soil health and prevent erosion.

Therefore, by embracing native plants, you not only create a vibrant and dog-friendly garden but also actively contribute to the conservation of your region’s unique ecology.

If you live in the US or Canada, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center provides a comprehensive online native plant database where you can search for native plants based on your location.

For those outside of the US, check out the European Nature Information System or the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.

And depending on where you live in the world, here are some dog-friendly plants to consider:

  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) – supports pollinators and adds vibrant colors
  • Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) – hosts the larvae of several butterfly species
  • Bee Balm (Monarda) – attracts pollinators and adds a burst of color
  • Lavender (Lavandula) – known for its soothing fragrance and resilience
  • Blueberry Bush (Vaccinium spp.) – provides delicious berries for you and your dog
  • Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) – adds texture and supports wildlife
  • Sunflower (Helianthus) – can grow in various regions
  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria) – loved by cats and generally safe for dogs
woman and mini dapple dachshund dog sitting in front of garden

8. Volunteer with Your Pup

Volunteering with your dog in environmental clean-up efforts is a fulfilling way to make a positive impact on your community.

Many organizations arrange clean-up events where volunteers, including those with pups, come together to contribute to a cleaner and healthier environment. These activities often include picking up litter, removing invasive species, and restoring natural habitats.

To find opportunities for environmental clean-up volunteering with your dog, consider the following options.

Reach out to local environmental organizations or animal shelters. These groups often organize community clean-up events and may welcome canine volunteers. And make sure to check out their social media profiles, as they may post volunteer opportunities.

Check with your city for community-wide clean-up days. Local parks and reaction departments also host clean-up events in parks and natural areas, providing a chance for you and your dog to contribute to the well-being of local green spaces.

Explore online platforms that connect volunteers with various opportunities. Websites like VolunteerMatch or local community forums often list upcoming clean-up events.

Finally, non-profits such as Ocean Conservancy, Surfrider Foundation, and The Ocean Cleanup focus on environmental clean-up efforts, particularly in marine environments.

When participating in such activities, ensure that your dog is comfortable in group settings, follows basic commands, and is friendly toward people and other animals. Always prioritize safety and adhere to any guidelines provided by the organizing entity.

three dogs standing on brick stairs in middle of woods
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Avoid Greenwashing to Increase Your Pawsative Impact

As you work to reduce your carbon pawprint and make eco-friendly choices for your pet, it’s essential to be aware of greenwashing in the pet industry.

Greenwashing occurs when companies employ deceptive marketing tactics to give the impression that their products are environmentally friendly when, in reality, they most likely are not.

It’s not uncommon to come across packaging adorned with earthy brown tones and green accents, creating an aesthetic that suggests eco-friendliness. However, appearances can be deceiving.

So if you notice packaging featuring words like “earth,” “nature,” and “eco” without concrete information on sustainability practices, it’s a signal to look at the label…closely!

numerous labels from dog poop bags

To ensure that your efforts align with genuine eco-friendly practices, take the time to read labels, investigate a company’s sustainability commitments, and look for certifications from reputable organizations.

By staying informed and making conscientious choices, you can avoid falling for creative marketing strategies that could dilute your efforts as you work to make meaningful changes in your life as a pet parent.

FAQs: Eco-friendly Resolutions for Pet Parents

How can I find eco-friendly pet products?

Shop at small, local pet shops, as they will most likely carry high-quality, sustainable options. Also explore the resources I’ve compiled here on my blog, as I continually research eco-friendly products and brands.

How can I ensure my homemade treats are healthy for my dog?

Select organic, natural ingredients without additives, make sure you are familiar with foods that are dangerous to dogs, and always check with your vet before introducing new food. For some simple, healthy recipes to get started, check out these options.

Can I use any biodegradable or compostable poop bag?

Only use compostable poop bags if you have access to a home or local composting facility. If you put your poop bags into the regular trash, opt for recycled plastic poop bags. You can learn more about the best poop bag options here.

Is it safe to use online secondhand marketplaces?

In today’s world, scams are always a possibility. With that said, secondhand marketplaces are safe as long as you take proper precautions. Always meet in a public place, and complete your transactions through the payout tools available directly through the platform.

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title of reduce your carbon pawprint - 8 simple eco-friendly resolutions for pet parents with image of three dogs in front of wall covered in flowers

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