top of page
  • Writer's picturecathy king

"Can Pets and Sustainability Coexist? Tips for Reducing Your Pet's Environmental Pawprint"

Updated: Mar 3

Cinnamon our dog who lived 21+ years
Can you make your pet ownership more sustainable?

If you already follow me then you know that I am an animal lover. Over the years we have been the proud family of many different kinds of pets, but I have to say that dogs are my favorite. I also realized that among all the topics that I have written on sustainability, I overlooked a blog on pets with ideas on how we as pet owners could make better-informed and sustainable choices.

5 dogs that have been pets over 30+ years
Pets from a lifetime

As most of you will have guessed by now, one of the biggest sustainable impact actions that should be addressed properly is: What are you doing with the poop? The number one rule is that you do NOT leave poop behind when you are walking your dog in any public place. This makes the world more sustainable for all. One option is to use biodegradable poop bags made from materials such as cornstarch or compostable materials. While paper would be more optimum in many circumstances, it is not always practical, making a better bag choice more sustainable. Some communities also offer pet waste collection services that dispose of pet waste in an environmentally responsible way, such as composting or biogas processing.

Reminder to clean up after your pet has pooped on public property
Remember Clean Up

Some residential locations or septic systems may also be capable of flushing away some pet waste, but you should investigate fully before doing this. Another sustainable-related activity is participating in annual community clean-up events for public places such as parks, walking paths, and trails.

Moving on to some more pleasant topics:

Pet food: Choose locally sourced pet food that reduces transportation emissions, or you might try your hand at making your own sustainable dog food. You can opt for plant-based sources and organic choices of food for your pets, which are better than many store-bought foods. Some sustainable protein sources include legumes and grains. There are lots of sustainable dog brands that are indeed very healthy for your pets. Buy in bulk where possible to reduce transportation and packaging waste,

Water: Tap water in many areas is drinkable for most people and animals. Please make sure that water is changed routinely, and dishes are washed daily. Do NOT let pets drink from puddles, as hazardous chemical runoff could be present in the standing water. Many households use chemicals on their lawns and spray for insects, which can run off into standing water puddles after rain.


different alternatives for ped bedding
Choosing sustainable bedding choices

  • Small Caged Pet Housing:  Choose sustainable options for pet housing, which might include bamboo and reclaimed wood enclosures. Repurposed furniture pieces such as nightstands and cabinets are great for small pets. Old windows can also be used to make enclosures.

  • Bedding:  Try upcycling and repurposing towels and bedding for pet bedding or converting them into cushions for pets. Remember that you can donate old bedding and sheets to shelters for much-needed bedding.  

  • Eco-Friendly Toys and Accessories: Empty boxes can be repurposed for cat scratching posts or shredded as pet bedding for smaller caged pets. Toys made from natural rubber, hemp, bamboo, and recycled materials are always good choices and broadly available. Most toys can also be sent through the laundry or the dishwasher to extend their life cycle as your pet's favorite toys.


  • Pet care planning is part of sustainable care for your pets. Remember to schedule healthcare appointments for mandated vaccines and overall healthcare support. Pets can live a very long life when well cared for. 

  • Pet costs will also make your financial planning for home budgets easier. The planning should include well-care appointments, flea & tick care, dental care, and other special needs. 

  • Explore holistic approaches to pet healthcare, including herbal remedies, acupuncture, and chiropractic care, which can reduce reliance on pharmaceuticals and promote overall wellness in pets. 

  • Planning includes time for exercise and alternative plans for bad weather and harsh weather for your pet's body temperatures and extremities.  Remember that pets are exposed to whatever chemicals get used for sidewalks and roads during the winter and may need extra protection for their paws and bodies.

  • Choose pet-safe plants for both indoors and outdoors.

  • One consideration to also include in your planning is your plans for your pets should something happen to you. 

Ownership: Congratulations if you are a proud pet owner!

picture of pets waiting for adoption
Adopt a pet from a shelter first.

However, if you are in the market for a new pet, my guidance would be to adopt from a shelter versus shopping. It is important that we first consider adopting pets from shelters or rescue organizations rather than purchasing from breeders. While it may take some time to go through the adoption process to find the “perfect” pet, imagine the idea of saving a dog/pet that has no real home. 

Here are some additional thoughts on responsible sustainable pet care:

  • Behavioral Training: Take time to participate in behavioral workshops and/or training sessions to address common behavior problems in new pets. Trainers can help you address problems such as aggression, anxiety, excessive barking, and destructive chewing, enabling you to love your pet even more.

  • Pet Licensing and Microchipping: Both pet licensing and microchipping are important for your pet's safety and welfare if they are lost or taken.  Licensing may be mandatory depending on your specific location, as well as vaccinations.

  • End-of-Life Planning: I would be remiss if I did not cover end-of-life planning. While the topic is very difficult to think about when your pet is healthy and vibrant, it is helpful to know that there are many options.  Some services will come to your house to help you, and your vet services will have options too. I can honestly say that we used a home services vet when Cinnamon reached her end of life and it was the most beautiful and peaceful service that we have experienced.

What Else?

Make your voice heard, get involved, educate and per first aid
There is more to do for sustainable pet living.

  • Be a community supporter of pet-friendly parks that include recycling stations for pet waste.

  • Stay educated on sustainable pet practices. 

  • Consider pet sharing.

  • Participate in community gardens where you can share produce for pets.

  • Join community clean-up events where you can help.

  • Take a pet first aid course to learn pet essential life-saving skills and emergency care techniques. 

I hope these small tips toward greener pet ownership are helpful. Remember it only takes small changes by each of us to enable a more sustainable environment for us and our pets. Remember we share our space with lots of other people and it is our responsibility to help make it better and greener. We can take an active role in educating others and raising awareness of responsible pet ownership that is greener.

Sustainability expert here to help you
The Sustainable Organizer


bottom of page