Around 60 per cent of Australian households have at least one pet, and for every pet there are pet products that help us clean up after them or keep them entertained. That’s a whole lot of plastic waste being produced by our four-legged friends.
From poo bags to kitty litter and beyond, caring for, and cleaning up after our pets, is having an negative effect on the environment. Anneke van den Broek is a pet advocate and founder of pet brand Rufus & Coco, and we ask her for some tips and advice on how we can swap out some of our commonly used pet products for something a little more eco-friendly.
1. Swap quantity for quality
“Swap cheap toys for durable ones. Rubber, thermoplastic rubber and rope are much stronger than latex or plush toys and will survive more vigorous play. If your pet has gotten sick of a toy, or no longer requires certain objects, consider donating them to a local shelter for better use than your rubbish bin.”
2. Go all natural
“Swap harsh chemical grooming products for natural ones. Look for ‘Australian Made’ products because it means reduced transport processes in getting the product from point A to point B, and reduced carbon emissions. Look for products that are more concentrated, as this means less consumption, less manufacturing impact and less water used in rinsing. Also look for ingredients that are natural and biodegradable so that the resulting impact on our waterways is minimal. Look for recyclable packaging, and if you have multiple pets, look for cross-species products that can be used on both your cat and dog.”
3. Rethink your litter
“Swap strip-mined clay litter for natural biodegradable litter. Did you know It takes 5000kg of coal to produce 1000kg of crystal (silica-based) litter? And that bentonite clay is strip-mined across vast pieces of land in the USA and Australia? Most likely not, as many cat parents don’t have the time to research every product they use. However, simple knowledge can help you look at the products you are using for your pets and consider the alternatives. Rufus & Coco’s award-winning Wee Kitty Clumping Corn Litter is made from sustainable corn crops, so it’s biodegradable, renewable and in small amounts can be flushed down the toilet.”
4. Meal prep
“Swap packaged food for making your own, or bulk buy to cut down the packaging. We all know that dogs and cats require a meat-based diet, which has a larger ecological footprint than a plant-based diet, but you can easily reduce this impact by using every part of the animal, including organs. Have a chat to your vet about the best meat to offer your pet and also what foods to avoid. Where possible, reduce the packaging by making your own pet food or buying in bulk.”
5. Be eco-conscious
“Swap leaving your cat flap open for a routine that will set your cat up for success. Rather than blaming cats for destroying wildlife, attach a bell, keep your pet indoors from dusk until after dawn, feed them well and give them their tastiest meal before dusk to encourage them to return home to eat.”
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