Going green doesn’t just mean toting around reusables or refusing plastic bags at the supermarket. It also means caring for your immediate environment, which includes your home and all its inhabitants, like your cute furkids.
Whether you have a dog, hamster or goldfish, there are ways to care for them in a more sustainable way that benefits all parties and your surroundings. For best results, consider living in a pet-friendly residence as well.
But if you’re living in an HDB flat, make sure you only have HDB-approved pets; you *do know* that cats are technically not allowed in HDB flats, right? And you shouldn’t be keeping a banned exotic pet either. We definitely are not talking about your house lizards and other unwelcome creepy crawlies that may have moved in with you.
Here are a few ways you can go green with your pet at home.
1. Use Biodegradable Poop Bags
The best thing would be to dispose of the poop directly into the loo, but likely you’ll be outside while your dog is doing its business. While it’s also good to reuse empty bags like used chips wrappers and sliced bread bags, when we run out, it’s not a good idea to ‘stock up’ on grocery plastic bags.
Consider switching to biodegradable poop bags. If you do make the switch, ensure that these biodegradable poop bags are truly green, that they actually do break down within a year tops (by following the right instructions and disposing of them correctly), and are made from earth-friendly material like plant resin.
It’s really pointless if all the bag does is break down into tiny flakes of plastic. We really don’t need more microplastics.
2. Use Natural Cat Litter
All cat litter is the same, right? Wrong. This ‘sand’ might seem all the same, but really, they’re different. Go for natural cat litter, where no chemicals/artificial fragrances will leech into your surrounding area (you don’t want Volatile Organic Compounds aka VOCs in your home) or worse still, could affect your feline’s health and/or cause allergies.
Some natural cat litter comes with benefits as well. They could be biodegradable, flushable and made from plants like walnut, wheat or soy. Again, double-check the components to ensure it’s not merely a faux green option.
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3. Use Eco-Friendly Bedding
Similar to cat litter, if you’re using bedding for smaller pets like hamsters, it’s time to look at natural and eco-friendly options if you’re not already doing so. These smaller animals utilise bedding for their comfort, and also when nesting.
One issue with bedding is that it tends to be discarded quite quickly, plus it absorbs odours and animal waste. Paper-based bedding is usually a popular choice, but this has to be made from recycled materials, yet is soft enough for your hamster, not to mention free from chemicals (so it might not be the best idea to shred your old printed reports for your pet).
Other materials, such as wood shavings, could also be an option, but tend to be dusty (difficult when cleaning your home too) and might cause allergies. Bedding can be layered with straw for certain breeds.
4. Purchase Healthier, Greener Food
Our furkids are precious, so we only want the best for them. This means trying to feed them as healthily as possible, with foods that have minimal preservatives, chemicals, processing and other random byproducts.
You can go one step further to buy pet food that is also sustainable, such as Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified sustainable seafood, or even alternative sources of protein like insects.
According to statistics, pets could be consuming well over one-fifth of the global supply of fish and meat, as more ‘pawrents’ turn to raw-feeding. While that’s good for their health, think also about the packaging involved, the production and processing of these resources, especially the environmental impact of less sustainably sourced protein.
And we know what happens when carbon emissions go up.
5. Buy Supplies in Bulk
This is a no-brainer. Buying in bulk means you might get discounts and also reduces transport costs and carbon emissions especially if you’re ordering carton delivery to your home or driving to get the supplies.
If you stay near the supplier, you might even want to wheel your trolley down to get the items yourself. No plastic bag, please!
However, the biggest compromise could be the initial cash outlay, and you’d need sufficient storage space in your home to pull this off.
6. Check the Labels on Grooming Products
Just like how we’re concerned about what chemicals there are in our shampoo or makeup, we need to be wary about the stuff that goes into Fido’s body wash. Excessive chemicals can cause skin burns, fur to drop (more house-cleaning for you too), itching and more.
In addition, it’s also good to look at the packaging these products come in – don’t want to be contributing to the landfill but touting the importance of ‘natural’.
It’s also good practice to check other products, like tick spray (it can get all over your home) and other products that might release potentially hazardous fumes.
7. Reduce Overpopulation by Neutering Your Pet
Most of us spay or neuter our pets for various reasons, and this might also benefit the pet’s health. This also cuts down on overpopulation – you’ve surely seen reports of culling or abandoned/abused animals in the news.
If your pet is too young for the procedure, be a thoughtful pet owner and ensure that the male and female animals of the same species aren’t in the same enclosure or space. Sure, you can always give up the litter for adoption.
But just like humans, these animals consume resources. Breeding your pet carelessly can take a toll on your pet’s health, your living space and the earth.
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Pet-friendly Ways to Go Green in Your Home
Animals, just like us, need space to roam as well as food and water to survive. As responsible owners, it’s key to ensure they lead happy, healthy and comfortable lives while in our care.
We can even go one step further to adopt, and not shop. This addresses the issue of overpopulation, but also you’re providing a loving home for an animal. Rehoming a pet from a shelter is also much cheaper than purchasing a pedigree pet, that you might not know how to take good care of if you’re a new ‘pawrent’.
Are animals too much of a responsibility for you? Try plants instead. Though plants may seem to be less of a commitment, do be mindful of caring for them. Repeatedly purchasing new plants to replace ones that have died is not exactly the most eco-friendly practice.
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This article was written by Mary Wu, who hopes to share what she’s learnt from her home-buying and renovation journey with PropertyGuru readers. When she’s not writing, she’s usually baking up a storm or checking out a new cafe in town.