New: The Sustainable Pet

I’ve been practicing zero waste for a year! I can’t believe there was life before this.

I grew up in a meat-eating trash-making household, like I’m assuming most of you did too. We didn’t and still don’t have easy access to recycling in my hometown, so we didn’t recycle. (My parents recycle now, but you still have to drive 10 minutes to get your recycling to the correct bins.) I started recycling paper and bottles during college when I had the resources. I switched to a reusable water bottle because that was the thing to do at my school and it was easy to refill at the bottle fountains all over campus. I tried using natural bathroom products like Burts Bees and Toms brands because I started feeling like maybe it was better for me, but there was no conviction behind it.

This was the extent of it.

Then last year, I decided to take what I learned in school about human health and environmental health and how we’re all tied together and make changes.

Here we are. One year of zero waste. We make about a bag of trash per month, sometimes two. We empty a Trader Joes paper bag of recycling each week. We compost and a service picks up our full 5 gallon bucket every week or two, depending on if we fill it or not.

Sometime over the past year, I decided to throw ethics into the mix as well. I started shopping second hand or only buying new from ethical and sustainable brands like Everlane because I don’t want to contribute to unfair labor practices.

Husband and I took a road trip and started getting into hiking and visited national parks and we got back and immediately started beekeeping because we are into nature now.

We almost stopped eating meat entirely, except for a few times a month. Even then it’s poultry. I haven’t eaten red meat in a while and only plan on eating fish when it’s locally caught and I’m on vacation (hello, NC coast, I see you and love you.)

So then we got a cat. She kind of threw me for a loop. Cats have to have meat, no exceptions. I’m not making her food homemade, so it’s gotta be packaged. We’ve gotta use litter and trash it and we had to buy her a bunch of toys. We made a lot of trash at first and I had no idea how to feed my cat cans of meat food and be sustainable at the same time. Here’s what I’ve learned over the past month.

  1. Sustainable pet food brands exist! This was great news. I already knew I was willing to spend extra to make sure my cat was well fed and healthy, so for this, money wasn’t going to be an issue. I found a list of pet food brands along with a short snippet of why they are sustainable and I’m excited to see which ones my cat likes.
  2. The first round of pet food we bought came in plastic cups, so we cleaned out each one and recycled it.
  3. There’s a pet store across the street from me, so that’s easy access and I don’t have to have things shipped, so that saves on fuel emissions. But, I’ll be honest, Chewy’s autoship and save feature has me in its pocket right now.
  4. Buy feather toys with fake feathers instead of real ones. It’s vegan now.
  5. Buy toys made with natural fibers instead of plastic ones. Comparing in store, the non-plastic options feel more durable too. And kitty can sink her claws into it. She loves it.
  6. We got one of those litter keeper bin things that works like a diaper genie. Instead of having to bag each individual scoop of litter, we throw it in the bin. Less plastic bag waste generated! This is exciting.

 

That’s what I’ve got so far. If you have a pet and suggestions, do share!

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