Eco-Friendly Pet Onwership TipsYou love your animal companions with all of your heart and soul, so why the heck are you purchasing their basic supplies at that ginormous 10,000-square-foot hyper-mart down the road? Forget about the cheap price tags for a moment and think about where and how the stuff is manufactured — in domestic and foreign factories that apparently have a fetish for lead, chromium, arsenic, mercury and cadmium. Once you adorn your floppy-eared cuties with their sparkly bedazzled collars and offer them adorable, brightly colored toys to slobber all over, guess what happens slowly but surely over time? The toxic compounds in their assorted gear can migrate into their bloodstream, potentially causing such short-term issues as aggressive behavior, loss of appetite and diarrhea, to far more troubling health ailments such as kidney and liver disease. The greatest lesson we can learn from the companion animals under our care is that “stuff” doesn’t make them happy — love does. In order to ensure that they enjoy many more years ahead of them, it might be wise to lay off of the pet convenience items in favor of versions that have a greener heart and soul. Read on for several basic eco-pet care tips that will allow you to demonstrate your affection without dipping deep into your wallet. Plus, they’re far healthier for the critters you share your home with, too!


One of the most considerate things that you can do for the furry members of your family is feed them high-quality food because that extra investment will ensure that they get a clean bill of health year after year. While there are increasingly better-quality pet-friendly diets on the market, you really need to know how to effectively scrutinize nutritional information — and that still doesn’t guarantee that your chosen brand will be free of contaminants or other dangerous compounds. The carbon footprint resulting from the manufacturing and shipping process is also a notable concern since it contributes to the overall not-so-green nature of conventional pet food. While making your own pet food (in theory) may sound like a whole lot of effort, your minimal investment in time and high-quality ingredients will yield a zippy, high-energy furball that will consequently produce less solid matter in the long run. Now that’s a smart waste-management plan!

Waste collection bags

Sometimes, you just have to scoop poop, particularly in the case of cat litter boxes. Instead of purchasing brand new plastic bags for this literally stinky purpose, reserve any and all used zipper-top packaging that would have normally been destined for your garbage can to keep it out of the landfill just a bit longer.


Harvest the naturally dog-eared collar of a man’s button-up shirt or transform an old leather belt into a customized neck accessory for your instantly fashionable wet-nosed wonder.


Make a cool sleeping space for your pooch or kitty using an upcycled suitcase, four-post bed made from an inverted end table, CRT computer monitor (with internal “guts” cautiously removed) or stuffed wool sweater with arms sewn together!


The vast majority of today’s dog and cat toys, as cute and squeaky as they may be, are made with petroleum-based materials to render them chewy, water resistant and somewhat durable. Perennial favorites such as chew/tug toys and balls are also manufactured with an alarming array of toxic compounds because there are no governmental standards in place. There is an emerging market for eco-alternatives crafted with organic and plant-based materials, but you can shun the big-box store all together by making equally engaging toys with countless types of recycled and repurposed household materials. How ‘bout a recycled dish towel dog rope or an upcycled sweater toy, for starters?

Use reusable (rather than one-time-use) supplies

One of the main things to remember about caring for pets is that at one time or another, things are inevitably going to get messy. Between slimy doggy saliva, projectile feline vomiting and other assorted accidents, your first instinct might be to leap for the paper towels, but that action is innately wasteful and seriously costly over time. Instead, mop up the yuckies with sponges, old towels, holey socks and any other absorbent yet worse-for-the-wear textiles that can be repeatedly laundered in hot water and reserved exclusively for such pet-specific applications.

Give unto others

Do you have worn-out towels or bedding hogging up precious closet space? The residents of your local animal shelter would really appreciate it. Ditto for surplus pet food, kitty litter that your feline turned his/her nose up at, toys that your furry family members are no longer enamored with, pet beds, leashes and more. Similarly, if your pet has moved onto another realm and you’ve decided that it’s time for you to take a break from pet ownership, the gift of giving their old supplies to new furry recipients is, in effect, keeping the memory of your dearly beloved alive and well. They’d want you to help a doggie brotha or sista out!