Is Pet Ownership Sustainable?
Every year there are almost 56 billion dollars spent in the US on the pet industry. Domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and hamsters are often treated as consumers themselves. There are pet blogs like The Pampered Pup, or Facebook and Instagram accounts like Esther the Wonder Pig (which we think is the most adorable thing ever – Esther is a star!).
Pet stores need to get more specialized to please these stars and family members – they need only the best. Market experts like the product buyers that we talked to at specialty stores like Pet Supplies say that they have heavy traffic in supplies like pet clothes, jewelry, organic, healthy food, and a plethora of natural products.
With the pets marketplace so booming and people owning only more animals comes the issue of sustainability.
Is Owning a Pet Bad For the Environment?
Brenda Vale, an author of a ‘Time to Eat the Dog?‘ book says that owning a pet, especially a dog, leads to more carbon production than driving a family car. The statement is meant to be controversial, surprising, and rebuttable. It stirred up a discussion among animal owners, SUV drivers, and environment defenders. The voices were very divided. Some say it is nothing more than a scam. Others couldn’t agree more.
If you are skeptical about the belief that a single dog itself can cause more pollution than a car, you are probably right. However, there is a grain of truth in Vale’s conclusion. Taking a closer look at the whole pet industry shows that it is far from being sustainable and creates a lot of yearly carbon emission.
How Owning a Pet Negatively Affects the Planet
Owning a pet has a lot of other consequences, besides providing companionship and love to people. More often than not, animals are treated like humans, as most pet owners perceive their animals as part of the family. There is nothing wrong with that until we start thinking about pets as another population of consumers living along with humans.
Planet Earth is barely capable of sustaining 7.2 billion people, not to mention a community of cats and dogs twice as big as that. According to the Guardian there are some negative environmental ramifications of owning an animal can cause.
Increased Number of Plastic Trash Production
Millions of people clean pet waste to non-biodegradable plastic bags and put them into trash bins, increasing the amount of plastic waste drastically.
Moreover, animals’ food and accessories almost always come in plastic packages. Once the toy is unpacked, or the food is eaten, the plastic waste ends up in landfills.
Cats and dogs, the most common home animals, are carnivores and omnivores, respectively. The process of raising animals for meat leaves a significant carbon footprint on the environment.
Chemicals and Pesticides
Pet shampoos and sprays, a thing invented and used solely because of the owner’s whim, are full of chemicals and pesticides harming the environment.
How Can I Be Eco Friendly With My Pet?
What do you do if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle but already own a pet? Don’t worry. There is no need to abandon or harm the animal. You can take some simple steps to reduce the harmful effects of owning a pet.
Recycle Your Dog’s Waste
Use Biodegradable Bags
If the above option doesn’t sound appealing to you, consider using biodegradable bags when cleaning up after your dog on a walk.
Be Mindful of What You Feed Your Dog
Do not overfeed the animal. It is neither good for the pet itself nor the environment.
Think of the products you feed your dog or cat. Many foods will meet your pet’s needs, taste good, and on top of that, be eco-friendly. Buy them instead of the cheapest, highly processed foods.
Make Dog Toys
Instead of buying thousands of plastic toys in plastic bags, try to recycle and reuse some of the materials you already have to create pet toys. An ideal example of this is the old T-shirts. If you own one, do not throw it away. Tear it into parts, braid them, and create a toy for your animal.
Wondering If You Should Own a Dog?
If you are thinking about keeping a dog, consider adoption. There are thousands of adorable puppies waiting for you in the shelter.
There are rescue organizations for every kind of animal. Ones that were mistreated by their past owners rejected or rescued from slaughter. These organizations include animals like pigs, horses, cows, rabbits, and even parrots or fish. Dogs and cats are, of course, high on that list.
It’s better to get your new family member from the shelter than a breeder.
It is essential to keep in mind that there are ways to reduce the environmental impact of owning an animal. Keeping a pet can bring you closer to nature if you treat your pupil as a living creature, not a consumer. Think of its natural habitat and take them there. Not only will you enjoy the time, but also understand why sustaining the planet should be a primary goal to people.
Article written by Author: Harper Stanbridge