From Associated Content, by Ilene Springer
Your pets will probably benefit from the natural ingredients, and you'll be doing the environment a big favor.
Your recycle bin fills up faster than your garbage can. You turn the lights off when you leave a room. You haven't purchased Styrofoam in years. Why not go a step further and go green with your pet supplies? Your dogs and cats won't know the difference. In fact, they will probably benefit from the natural ingredients, and you'll be doing the environment a big favor.
There are a number of factors that determine whether a pet product is truly green.
1. Is the product made from recycled materials? Using new materials to make green products doesn't make sense. Look for pet products that are made from materials that have already served a purpose. This way, you're truly not wasting anything, and you'll save material from going into landfills.
2. Purchase natural pet foods and treats. In this case, natural means they avoid pesticides, artificial colors, flavor enhancers, chemical fertilizers and chemical preservatives. That's what natural and organic is all about. Green pet foods are those that are produced from free-range, lean meat and poultry, and don't contain meat byproducts such as chicken fat. They're generally made of whole grains and flour. Think of it this way: If you wouldn't eat a product yourself, don't give it to your pet.
3. Choose pet products that minimize your impact on the environment. This means selecting sustainable materials that don't deplete the planet's resources so rapidly. One example is cat litter. Instead of buying clay-based cat litter (which is made from 1.5 million tons of strip-mined clay, annually), purchase cat litter that is made of alternative ingredients such as wheat, corn, pine, cedar, and even recycled newspapers. The good news about this kind of litter is that instead of ending up in a landfill, the waste can be composted or flushed right down the toilet.
4. Buy durable products. Buy toys that your dog or cat can't destroy quickly, which means buying fewer toys that will go into the landfill.
5. Buy products that are made locally. For example, you might purchase ceramic pet food bowls made by local artists. Buying locally made supplies means that there is less fuel needed to transport these items from afar.
Examples of Green Pet Supplies
Luckily, there are more and more Web sites and pet shops offering green pet supplies. Here are the kinds of products you should look for.
-Eco-friendly collars made of hemp instead of vinyl.
-Dog jackets made of recycled polyester.
-Dog towels made of recycled wood chips.
-Portable traveling bowls made of recycled polyester.
-Plush dog/cat toys made of low-impact hemp with chemical-free fillers and dye; no harmful toxins if devoured.
-Non-toxic cat wipes.
-Cat toys made of hemp stuffed with organic catnip.
-Cat treats made of certified organic ingredients.
-Pet beds made of naturally dyed, environmentally friendly hemp on the outside, and filled with fiber made from recycled plastic water bottles on the inside.
-Stain removers such as Nature's Miracle that use non-toxic, natural enzymes to dissolve the odor-causing chemical compounds in the mess your dog or cat leaves on your rug.
Green products for your pet can be more expensive than the other products you're used to buying. But a few more cents are worth it for the pet owner who wants every family member — including their dogs and cats — to do their part in protecting the environment.