Everyday Enviro with Elise - Low-waste living for dog owners
Author: Elise Catterall
One of the upsides of being in lockdown is getting to spend so much time with our dog. And he is so important to us right now; he is our reason for getting out into the sunshine every day, he is company for our newly socially isolated kids, he is a constant source of affection and companionship, and the one family member who wants less space, rather than more.
But, he is a major consumer. Being a big, active dog, we can go through food, beds, toys, poo bags - you name it – at an alarming rate. So addressing these things was an important part of our effort to reduce waste as a household. As many of us are dog owners, I thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve learned and adopted to help us reduce our footprint – or paw print, as the case may be.
- Buy food in bulk. It is super easy to get bulk (eg 20kg) bags of pet food online and get them delivered. We do this and use the large bag to hold all our soft plastic waste, which all then gets taken to a REDcycle collection point.
- As dogs usually have protein heavy diets, it is important to consider the impact of that. The wonderful people at Sustainable Jungle discussed the importance of using offcuts for dog meat, rather than prime cuts as using offcuts will divert often discarded pieces from landfill and prevent overproduction. They also make the important point of not overfeeding your dog, unnecessarily increasing meat demand overall.
- Vegie scraps are great to add to your dog’s diet as well, just avoid the onion family.
- Homemade treats can be very low waste – again Pinterest is your friend for recipes.
- Secondhand, repurposed or homemade toys are the way to go. Check out charity shops, your local PIFs (see The Sharing Map for info), or Freecycle. Rope toys are easy and inexpensive to make (again, use Pinterest). As long as it is safe and sturdy, it doesn’t need to be brand new. Our dog has a penchant for soccer balls, but, as he likes them just as much flat as pumped up, we have taken to scavenging discarded balls at our local oval. Some of those finds have lasted years.
- For other toys, if you are buying new, make sure you buy to last. Some toys, like Kongs, are good because they will last for years.
- I know some people repurpose cot mattresses or large cushions, but we did invest in a new dog bed, and looked for one that was robust and sustainable. We settled on Snooza, an Australian company that uses recycled plastic drink bottles for all their filling.
- Make it last - mend any rips or tears in your bedding before they become something that can’t be repaired.
- For home, one of the best things I’ve seen is the Tumbleweed Pet Poo Worm Farm, which turns pet poo into fertiliser. I’m told you can also just dig a hole in the garden. Others I know scoop and deposit in the loo, to be flushed away the next time someone goes.
- For out and about, compostable bags are one of your best options. com.au sells poo bags made from cornstarch. There are lower waste options (e.g. carrying a bucket to dispose of at home, wrapping in loo paper for later), so see what works for you.
- It’s hard to go past simple and eco friendly castile bar soap for low waste dog washing; medicated soap bars are also available via biome.com.au
- Homemade breath fresheners are easy to make – check out this post for some inspo.
- You can compost nail clippings and fur – some also suggest leaving fur out for birds to use in nests.
- For all the miscellenous items you need for your dog – leads, collars, harnesses, food and water bowls, brushes seek out PIFs, and other second hand options but if you buy new, choose carefully, choose sustainable materials, and choose items made to last. For example, After knocking over and breaking several ceramic food bowls, we realised stainless steel or bamboo was a better, long-lasting option.
One last point to make. If/when your dog outgrows or no longer needs any items, ensure you complete the cycle by paying the item forward or donating to your local shelter.
See you next time! - Elise
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.
Author: Elise CatterallElise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.
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