How to be a More Sustainable Dog Owner

We spend so much time outdoors with our dogs, in all weathers and love experiencing and enjoying new walks together. As a nation of dog owners and lovers here in the UK, it’s understandable many of us are concerned about the environment and global climate crisis. While we all do our best to reduce, reuse and recycle in our day to day lives, it can be a little harder when it comes to your dog. Thankfully there are plenty of ways to be a more sustainable dog owner, which we’ve outlined below!

Be Intentional with Your Purchases

It can be tempting to rush out to your nearest pet shop and purchase everything your new puppy could possibly need in one go. In fact, buying in hauls like this is quite the trend, particularly in the canine social media world. However, if you’re looking to be a more sustainable dog owner, swapping to slower, more intentional purchases will help reduce your overall consumption and consequent waste.

Take time to find out what toys your dog does and doesn’t like, instead of heading out to purchase the latest ‘must have’ item. If it’s your first dog, you too will benefit from experimenting slowly to find out what products best suit you. You can even ask friends and other dog owners to borrow some items so you can test them out for yourself. Not only does this reduce the demand for dog products, many of which are made from hard, unrecyclable materials, it also saves you money in the long run.

Shop Secondhand 

Let’s face it, we all love a bargain, especially when it comes to pet items. Fortunately there are so many places you can look for secondhand dog items, including larger brands like Ruffwear, Joules and Hurtta. Before purchasing a brand new item at full price, why not check out websites such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace to see if you can source the same item secondhand for less? 

Buying secondhand items also benefits the environment hugely, as your purchase doesn’t contribute to the CO2 emissions of creating the same item brand new. In fact, you’re saving said item from landfill or incineration instead as well as supporting a more circular economy. If you’re purchasing secondhand, you may also want to consider donating your own used items when you’re finished with them in order to further support this circular economy. If you choose to donate items through a charity shop, you’re also helping that organisation continue their work in the community. There are plenty of pet related charity shops you can donate to, including local rescue centres, the RSPCA and the PDSA.

Support Local, Small and Artisanal Businesses

While prices may seem more expensive initially compared to larger, mass-produced pet items, if you’re already committed to more intentional purchasing, supporting small local businesses is often a more sustainable choice. Items are more likely to be handmade and created to a higher quality from a small business, rather than churned out of a factory at the cheapest price possible.

Smaller businesses tend to create their products to order, which reduces waste and ensures every item is destined for use. Purchasing locally will also minimise CO2 emissions from transporting the item to you. Not only will your purchase directly benefit the small business owner and their family, they will also be more efficient when it comes to their materials. Many small businesses, particularly in the pet industry, go above and beyond to help the environment. Whether that’s using recycled materials, carbon offsetting, eliminating plastic packaging or sourcing items locally, your products are made on a smaller scale with sustainability in mind.

Ditch Virgin Plastics Where You Can

Plastic pollution is causing havoc to our environment. There’s an estimated 150 million tonnes of plastic currently in our oceans, which is predicted to rise to 600 million tonnes by 2040 a large proportion of which are single use, virgin plastics. While we recognise it’s near impossible to eliminate plastics completely, we can all do our bit to reduce our reliance. As a dog owner, there’s plenty we can do. We can swap to compostable poo bags (so long as your local authority’s waste management systems are compatible, choose to purchase treats plastic free, such as in dog delis at your local pet shop and even purchase bedding that is made from recycled materials. 

Reducing our personal consumption of single use, virgin plastics is only one way to help. We can also clean up other people’s plastic when we’re out on walks too. Even if you live in a city far away from the coast, once plastic litter gets into our sewage system, it’ll likely make its way into the sea. Committing to picking up litter when we’re out walking our dog, taking it home and disposing of it properly will reduce the likelihood of it winding up in our oceans. It’ll also prevent wildlife ingesting the plastics or getting tangled and seriously harmed by it. You never know, your small litter picking acts may also encourage other people to become more sustainable dog owners too!

What are your top tips for becoming a more sustainable dog owner? How are you and your dog helping the planet together?

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