Carbon paw print
Published on Thursday, 14 April 2016
Owning a furkid comes with costs that go beyond dollars and cents. Hundreds of millions of pet dogs and cats in the world have become some of today’s most voracious consumers, with an abundance of food, toys, and more at their disposal. All this can amount to a pretty hefty bill for our planet.
According to Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living by Brenda and Robert Vale—a book that discusses the environmental impact and carbon paw prints of household pets—our pet pooches create a carbon footprint that’s double that of a typical sports utility vehicle. While the 2009 study was greatly criticised by naysayers who cast doubts on several of its claims and the method of calculation used, there is no denying that our furry pals do affect the Earth. Almost every product purchase we make at the pet store is accompanied by a load of non-biodegradable packaging. When the carbon emissions produced from the transportation required to bring that product to the shop are also taken into consideration, we have a foolproof recipe for environmental degradation.
“Arguably, it would be better for the environment if no one owned pets but that would be a pretty soulless world,” says George Bramble, co-founder of Beco Pets. Of course, it doesn’t mean that we should have to choose one over the other. “There are ways of owning a pet and being eco-conscious, which in turn helps to decrease your carbon footprint,” adds George. Beco Pets is Britain’s largest manufacturer of eco-friendly pet products and accessories, and it was birthed as a result of its founders’ frustration at the lack of environmentally friendly pet products on the market.
It is possible to adopt an earth-friendly lifestyle when it comes to caring for our furkids, without sacrificing the quality of their life. For a start, the seemingly innocuous poop bag is a major contributor to environmental damage. As George puts it: “An average owner will go through up to 1,300 poop bags a year and what amazes me is that a lot of the poop bags on the market are still non-biodegradable.” Such products can take hundreds of years to break down, and with only a single product switch, paw-rents can make a difference.
Naturally, going green can sometimes equate to spending more. “Making environmentally friendly products is usually more expensive,” George admits. However, many eco-friendly companies like Beco Pets are committed to keeping their prices affordable. This can be done by sourcing for recycled materials. That said, paw-rents do not necessarily have to drastically change their consumption patterns immediately. Try making a conscious effort to purchase products with minimal packaging or that come in packaging made of eco-friendly materials. “Check whether the products you are buying for your pet are packaged in recycled packaging,” suggests George.
In addition, the overpopulation of furry ones puts a strain on the Earth’s resources. Hence, by sterilising our pets, we can provide some relief to our planet while giving our furkids a better quality of life.