Animals have been a precious source of companionship all my life. Aside from my paternal grandparents, no one has displayed such unconditional love such as they have.
In turn, I have learned about responsibility and respect for the web of life.
It all began with two small dachshunds and went on to encompass gerbils, mice, reptiles, birds, and kittens.
I once raised two turkeys, named X-mas and New Year’s, that followed me around like their momma hen before I plucked and served them forth! (But that’s another blog about love and our relationship with food.)
As a pigeon fancier, I bred tumblers that fell and racers who flew hundreds of miles to come home.
I “kept” hundreds of chickens, some exotic breeds that came away with blue ribbons.
My friend Mary, no spring chicken herself, recently retrieved a Labrador puppy, and I had to ask her, “what is the best way to incorporate a beloved pet into our quest to help the planet?”
She offered up a few things to consider when choosing an eco-friendly pet.
Their diet is a critical component. When purchasing food for your animals, you might have to trial and error a few until you find the one that they like the most.
If it’s available, serve them real food made with Certified Organic ingredients. Why? The ingredients are raised without hormones, antibiotics and grown without toxic pesticides and herbicides.
How much water will they need? A puppy really doesn’t consume that much liquid, but how about a horse or a pony’s lappings? Will your well, water bill, or spring hold up to their hydration?
What modern accessories will they require? If your pet gnaws and chews, should you buy lots of paraphernalia to satisfy their emerging jaws? Just think about how much plastic and packaging are used in the toys’ production.
It is possible to make your own or support a local craftsperson spinning organic cotton or wool materials into chew toys.
If a tank of tropical fish is on your line, consider where those plastic tank accouterments came from? What chemicals will you drop in the unmurky bucket?
How much electricity will keep the poor creature warm or cool? Dogs and cats only need the ambient heat from our homes. Bring them in or give them shelter when it’s freezing or flaming outdoors.
Fish and lobsters, on the other hand, require heaters and filters.
Baby chicks need a heat lamp instead of a hen’s belly.
If a boa is up your alley, how restrictive will the electricity bill be to keep it comfy?
Are grooming and cleaning required? Mary washes the deck with green products that aren’t toxic to her family or puppy. She bathes her girl in organic soaps laced with lavender.
Besides the midnight excursions, she reuses washable pee pads and diapers for training.
Sustainable bedding makes a happy pet. Mary found eco-friendly dog beds online, and they’re available for other animals to hold dear. Wood and straw products are the most sustainable bedding materials you can use.
A rabbit needs a hutch, and a wooden one is more sustainable than one molded of plastic. Or, if you are getting a horse then you can look at the best bedding for horses, making sure that it’s as eco-friendly as possible.
Give a shyster ’bout the waste.
Single-use plastic is one of the worst things that you use for the environment, and most poop totes are a mixed bag. Many claim to be compostable, but they don’t break down within a year, and some never degrade at all. Even if they are “compostable,” they must also be biodegradable.
You can also make your own!
For example, a handy little trick that we have picked up over the years is to use newspapers to pick up the waste rather than waste bags. Paper is a sustainable source, whereas plastic is not, which means it makes more sense to use the newspaper that you’re never going to read anyway.
The horses and ponies have the last laugh when it comes to waste production because it can be turned into manure and make a positive impact on the environment.
Incorporating a non-human companion, be it a spider, cat or dog, in your life increases your opportunities to get outside and exercise. Regular frolicking can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.
But what Is the most eco-friendly pet?
According to money.co.uk people, “anyone who really cares about the planet should consider swapping their cats and dogs for a tortoise. The tortoise may be slow and steady, but this is one race where they are ahead of the pack.”
Because of their simple vegetarian diet and slow metabolism, they require less water and exercise. Easy to care for, they don’t require huge amounts of plastic accessories or paraphernalia, making this long-living being a great pet choice for an environmentalist.
“While a tortoise may not be quite as cuddly as a Labrador, its diet and slow metabolism mean it is far kinder to the planet.”
I’ll think about that pet option in the race to win the planet.