© Mike Linnane / 500px - Getty ImagesWe're a nation of pet lovers, but what we can we do to reduce our four-legged friends carbon footprint and help the planet?
From eco-friendly bedding to purchasing biodegradable dog toys, there are plenty of simple solutions to help significantly reduce your pet's environmental impact.
"Pet owners might not realise it, but unintentionally, our animals and our habits surrounding them and their lifestyle can cause an adverse effect on both the environment and our poor pets," Rachel Andre, CEO of sustainable cat litter brand Natusan, says.
"Which is why making a conscious change can go a long way when it comes to improving your pet's carbon pawprint; from switching to a sustainable, organic cat litter, to trying toys and bedding which are made of natural fibres."
Want to reduce your pet's carbon footprint? Take a look at the simple changes you can make below:
1. Switch to sustainable cat waste
According to research, regular cat litter can add an estimated two million tones of waste to landfill every year. As well as this, it's also a strip-mined material, which means it's highly destructive for the environment.
A great alternative is to switch to sustainable cat waste. "Making this easy swap and opting for cat litter that's better for both the planet and your cat's health is a no brainer," says Rachel. © Catherine Falls Commercial - Getty ImagesTabby Kitten
2. Purchase eco-friendly pet toys
Many popular pet toys are made from hard-to-recycle plastics. When it comes to purchasing new toys for your four-legged friends, opt for ethical alternatives instead. It might take more research, but there are plenty of toys crafted from toxin-free recycled materials.
If you have a cat, Rachel suggests: "To reduce waste, choose quality over quantity with toys that you are certain your pet will enjoy. Cats get bored easily, so try swapping toys with a fellow feline friend instead of buying new ones. Whereas our canine companions can be very happy with their favourite toys that smell the same - meaning you don't need to buy more."
© AmazonCycle Dog High Roller Ball Dog Toy Ecolast Post Consumer Recycled Material, Medium, Blue
3. Choose organic, eco pet bedding
"Look to buy bedding and blankets which are made from natural fibers, grown organically and processed without harsh chemicals and dyes. Not only is this better for your pet's health but the manufacturing carbon footprint will be considerably lower."
When looking for eco-friendly bedding, pay close attention to the fabrics: if you can, opt for products that are plastic and polyester free. Some may have zips and threads which are also biodegradable.
© EtsyOrganic hypoallergenic, cotton & linen, wool filled luxury pet bed/floor pillow. Beautiful, ecofriendly, modern bed for dog or cat. Bramble
4. Go greener with grooming
It's important to groom your pet regularly, but be careful with the products you are using. Rachel says: "Many pet shampoos and deodorising sprays are filled with non-biodegradable, toxic chemicals that are harmful to your dog or cat's skin (and the planet) once washed away.
"Look to choose organic and natural shampoos which are free of dyes, nasties and parabens. It's also worth opting for wooden brushes over plastic ones when you can."
5. Spay or neuter
As a pet parent, neutering is one of the most responsible things you can do, both for your pet and the planet. Rachel adds: "Unwanted puppies or kittens that are not euthanised or adopted are often abandoned and become feral. In fact, it's estimated that the feral cat population in the UK is as large as the current number of cats that have homes."
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