wellness

The very simple steps you can take to reduce your pet's environmental paw print.

As many of us make a conscious effort to become more environmentally friendly, we’re swapping plastic bags for reusable totes and embracing meat-free Mondays.

But have you ever considered the environmental paw print of your furry (or non-furry) friend? It turns out how you treat, feed and groom your pets can have a sizeable impact on the environment.

RSPCA Australia estimates there are more than 24 million pets in Australia, so making a few easy swaps to the products you use with your pets can make a big difference.

Change the way you buy toys.

One of the quickest and simplest changes you can make is by buying more durable rubber or rope toys, rather than non-durable latex toys, like the squeaking animal shapes you buy in supermarkets or pet stores.

“Not only can it become expensive continuously buying toys for your pet, but it is also damaging to the environment, with more toys ending up in landfill. Consider your purchases carefully and where possible, opt for toys that are durable and will last a few years in comparison to a few weeks or months,” said Anneke van den Broek, founder and CEO of pet care brand Rufus & Coco.

This same principal applies to other items your pet uses regularly, like travel crates, leashes, collars and bowls.

“Swapping out plastic bowls for stainless steel or ceramic is a small step but can go a long way to reducing plastic in landfill,” said Anneke.

Also, rotating toys or putting them away when your pet is not around will make them last longer and reduce wastage. And if you have toys that are no longer used by your pet, you can help them avoid landfill by donating them to a local animal shelter.

So, toys are a fantastic place to start to reduce your pets environmental paw print.

Swap harsh chemical grooming products for natural ones.

Natural and chemical-free beauty products have become commonplace over the past few years, and for good reason.

We’re more aware than ever about what we put on our skin and hair and well, the natural, eco-friendly beauty trend shouldn’t just be for humans.

These days, natural grooming products for pets are easy to find. Natural, biodegradable ingredients will minimise impact on waterways, and recyclable packaging is a big plus.

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Anneke from Rufus & Coco also recommends looking for Australian made products: “[This will] mean reduced transport processes and resulting carbon emissions, and also mean that waste management is to Australian standards.”

Did you know biodegradable kitty litter is a thing?

Yep, and it’s an important change you can make.

Rufus & Coco conducted a new study of 1,647 cat owners across Australia and the US which found that 32 per cent of Australians and 65 per cent of Americans surveyed use clay litter each week, and in Australia paper (26 per cent) and crystal (21 per cent) litters ran a close second and third.

These are not environmentally friendly… At all.

“It takes 5000kg of coal to produce 1000kg of crystal (silica-based) litter,” said Anneke. “Bentonite clay is strip-mined across vast pieces of land in the USA and Australia.”

Strip mining is a highly destructive and inefficient way to access minerals.

If your cat isn’t picky, fill your cat’s litter box with natural alternatives made of corn, wood, wheat or other biodegradable products.

Bring your pets inside overnight.

Many councils across Australia have introduced a ‘cat curfew’, requiring cats to be indoors at night to limit the numbers of native animals and birds they kill.

It’s hard to imagine your cute, sleepy cat can become a cold-blooded killer when it steps outside but… well, that’s what they’re wired to do.

Having them indoors from just before the sun goes down will limit the impact they can have on animals and birdlife – which are most active at dusk and dawn.

According to Anneke, feeding your cat their tastiest meal before dusk is a great way to encourage them to return home to eat, meaning you can then lock them in.

Do you have any other tips to make your pet more environmentally friendly? Let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear your ideas.

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