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Everyday Environmentalist

Green Your Pets

The biggest threats to birds are domesticated cats, so keep your cats indoors.

"Most conventional pet foods are made with animal by-products and fillers and processed heavily."

Melanie Marine, member communications assistant manager with the Conservancy

By Melanie Marine

We’ve all heard about reducing our carbon footprint — but what about our pets’ pawprint?

When your pet is living green, not only are you ensuring Earth is healthy, but your pet is healthy as well.

And greening pets isn’t just for hippies. Here are my top five things that anyone can do:

5. Purchase Eco-Friendly Gifts

Give your furry friends products made from recycled materials or sustainable fibers (such as hemp) and with nontoxic ingredients.

A hemp collar and matching leash is not only hypoallergenic, but the fabric gets softer with wear and tear. And, so that your pet sleeps more soundly, purchase pet beds made from organic cottons and recycled PET bottles.

4. Protect Native Wildlife — Keep Your Pet Indoors

Cats are hunters. After habitat destruction, the biggest threats to birds are domesticated cats.

Most vets recommend keeping cats indoors because of risks such as cars and disease. It’s a win-win situation — kitty stays safe and so do the rabbits, birds, chipmunks…well, you get the picture. Keeping dogs on leashes when outside also helps protect local wildlife.

So go ahead, increase the life span of your pet: keep him or her inside.

3. Feed Them Natural or Organic Pet Foods and Treats

Most conventional pet foods are made with animal by-products and fillers and processed heavily. Now, if the meat used in these products is deemed unsuitable for humans, why are we feeding it to our most beloved companions?

Natural and organic pet foods are minimally processed and contain meats that are raised sustainably. Certified-organic pet foods must meet strict USDA standards that ensure no pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, artificial preservatives or artificial ingredients go into your pet’s bowl — or belly.

2. Put Number Two in Its Place

Everyone does it and so do our pets. When walking your dog, please pick up with a biodegradable poop bag so your dog’s waste doesn’t live in a landfill taking up to 100 years to decompose.

You can buy biodegradable bags at your local pet store or online.

And cat owners should steer clear of clumping clay litters. The clay is strip-mined, which is harmful to the environment and the clay sediment contains carcinogenic silica dust that your cat can ingest.

1. Buy a “Recycled” Pet — Adopt From a Shelter

Why pay hundreds of dollars for an overbred animal when you can adopt one of the 70,000 puppies and kittens born and abandoned every day in the United States?

Don't forget one of the best things you can do (and one of the most humane) is to purchase a "recycled pet.” Please consider going to a local shelter or rescue to choose your next animal companion.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not represent those of The Nature Conservancy.

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