Welcome to the blog of the course and textbook Facing up to global warming: What is going on and what you can do about it. This course is run by Professor Nick Gray of the Trinity Centre for the Environment at Trinity College Dublin.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Reduce your carbon Paw print: Tips for greening up your pet

I can be green too!

In 2009, a couple from New Zealand, Robert and Brenda Vale, wrote a book called ‘Time to Eat the Dog?’ in which they discussed the devastating effect that being careless with how you care for you pet can have on the environment.  According to the book, the carbon paw print of a pet dog is double that of your standard SUV, making man's best friend the environment's worst enemy. Other pets targeted were hamsters, which were compared to a plasma television, and goldfish, which actually burn energy equivalent to two cell phones. With a few small changes to how you care for your animals, you can help reduce your carbon footprint by reducing their carbon paw print.

1: Adopt Pets
There are plenty of lovely pets just waiting in animal shelters to find new homes. As well as doing good, by adopting you are also reducing the demand for pets from mills, which have large carbon footprints due to their use of low-grade food (the production of which has high carbon emissions).
2: Recycle and Reuse
Lend a helping hand. Instead of binning your old toys, beds and accessories when your pet grows out of them (or just tired of them), drop them up to your local pet shelter. Not only is this better for the environment but you will also be helping out very worthy charities. You could also swap old pet accessories among your neighbours or friends who are also pet owners.
3: Pick up Waste
Instead of using plastic bags to pick up your dog waste, opt for biodegradable bags that break down in about a month – a lot better than the 1500 years it takes plastic to degrade. If you have cats, think about switching to an organic, plant-based litter.
4: Walk to Walks
Why drive your dog around to bring them for a walk? Look for parks and open spaces nearer to your house to reduce emissions. If you need to drive, try to carpool with other dog owners.
5: Buy them Green Goods
These days, eco-friendly pet accessories are everywhere. When buying your pets toys, look for toys made from recycled materials or sustainable fibres such as hemp. You can also buy hemp collars and leads, which are much better than the more common plastic or leather. You can also get beds made from organic materials or recycled PET bottles. Failing this, use old towels or cushions to make your own eco-friendly pet bed.
6: Be Careful about Food
When buying pet food, opt for higher-quality foods, which have used sustainable methods and are conscious of their carbon footprint when producing it. Take the time to read the labels on all pet food packaging, and look for foods that do not contain synthetic ingredients or chemically altered natural ingredients. Buy chicken and rabbit flavours over beef, which will also lower your pet’s carbon paw print. As well as this, try your hand at using up scraps of old food and vegetables to make your own dog treats. You’ll save money and also reduce your waste by using up odds and ends and not having excess packaging from store-bought goods. When you are buying pet food, buy in bulk to reduce the packaging.
Ailbhe Smith

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