Pet keeping is a luxury of the Western world. And as with other luxuries, it behoves us to minimise our impact on our planet by taking steps to make this as sustainable as possible.

Here are my top ten tips to make pet keeping more eco-friendly.

1) Choose sustainable pet food

Meat production for pet food contributes significantly to greenhouse gases. There are some mitigating aspects: commercial pet food originated as a way of using waste from abattoirs, pet food contained the cuts of meat that humans didn’t want to eat. So, arguably commercial pet food is already sustainable, making good use of byproducts. Recent trends are less sustainable, with people wanting to feed higher end, premium-type meat to their pets from animals that need to be specifically reared for meat production for pet food or that would otherwise be used for human meat consumption.

More sustainable options for feeding pets include insect-based products for dogs and cats (e.g. Omuu, developed by an Irish vet), and vegetarian or vegan dog foods. While it’s safe for dogs to eat nutritionally balanced non-meat diets, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they have an absolute need for some ingredients that can only be found in meat. It’s possible to source these essential nutrients from non-meat sources, but many vets feel that it is wrong to try to force pure carnivores like cats to survive without meat.

2) Buy in bulk

Modern dried pet food has a long shelf life even when the bag has been opened, as long as you are careful about how you store it. If you buy a bigger bag, you’ll use less packaging, and you’ll need fewer visits in the car to the pet shop (or fewer deliveries from the online store).

3) Choose recyclable packaging on food or other pet products.

Pet food is commonly packaged in easy-to-use plastic. While there can be benefits from this (easily sealable bags allow food to be stored for longer periods), some companies take more care than others to ensure that their packaging is as eco-friendly as possible. Even plastic packaging can be recyclable. Read the label carefully and visit company websites to find out more: many have strong and progressive policies on sustainability like Purina. 

4) Choose higher quality toys and accessories.

It’s easy to buy cheap “tat” for pets, but the more sustainable option is to buy products that are well made, from durable materials, so that they are more likely to be long lasting. This applies to leads, collars, food and water bowls, clothing, and almost anything else you can buy for your pet. It’s also worth seeking out products designed to be sustainable, such as the Beco food bowl range, made from plant-based materials including bamboo, to help reduce use of petroleum-based plastics. See

5) Choose not to buy toys: recycle waste as toys for pets.

Dogs and cats are not fussy: the simplest of cardboard boxes, packaging materials, and food and drink containers can often be repurposed as objects that your pets will enjoy playing with.

6) Choose cat litter carefully

If you have indoor cats, you’ll find yourself using surprising quantities of cat litter for their indoor toiletting. Clumping cat litter is the most popular, …….


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