9 Ways to Reduce Your Pet’s Carbon Paw Print

Organic pet food
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Today is Earth Day, which is always a great time to consider the impact household pets have on the planet — and what humans can do to reduce their carbon paw prints.

Yes, it’s true. Households with pets probably have larger carbon footprints than those who don’t. Given that pet-loving homes tend to consume more food, generate more waste and utilize energy at higher rates, it only makes sense that more creatures mean more impact.

But there are a number of steps that pet owners can take to live a little greener:

Make Your Own Kitty Litter

Consider using shredded newspaper or third-class mail in place of purchased litter. You'll be surprised at how much this kind of recycling buys (and saves!) you. Alternatively, you can buy recycled, biodegradable shavings (or litter) instead of the traditional stuff.

Choose Foods Wisely

If you have a choice, buy pet foods that are produced closer to home — and through organic methods, if possible. Although manufacturer labels often tell only part of the story, foods packaged nearby tend to require less fuel for transport. There’s also the packaging factor: I tend to prefer products sold in recyclable containers. Those aluminum bags and pouches are totally recyclable. The plastic ones? Not so much. Not where I live, anyway.

Green Clean

Use cleaning products with eco-friendly ingredients, like vinegar and baking soda. I prefer to use these replacements for all but the most greasy or smelly pet cleanup situations. They're nontoxic and safe, so what's not to love? For example, I dilute one part vinegar with three parts tap water, and keep it in a spray bottle. For an awesome deodorizing solution, mix 1/3 cup baking soda with four cups of water.

Practice Temperature Control

Don’t excessively warm or chill your home while you’re out. Pets mostly don’t mind the difference, and they’ll find warm and cool spots in your home easily if you set the thermostat at 80 degrees in the summer and a snug 65 degrees in the winter.

Note: This falls into the category of “know thy pet.” For example, you absolutely need to keep your house cool if you’ve got a short-nosed breed. And an arctic breed may absolutely adore a house set at 50 degrees!

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