Are you curious about a Zero waste lifestyle with a dog?
We had a dog at the beginning of our transition to zero waste. I remember that trying to keep the trash to a minimum with a pet companion was a challenge. I’d had our beloved pooch since I was a teen and she passed shortly after we decided to switch. So, she was only around for the very beginning of this adventure. I asked my friend Tess who has two beautiful dogs to share her tips for a zero waste lifestyle with dogs.
When we began transitioning to a low-waste lifestyle, one thing that I could not figure out was how to care for my pups without all the plastic packaging. After a little searching, I came to the conclusion that while most things can be modified to fit our low-waste life, dog food is just one thing that can’t at this time. But, rest assured that I still have some low-waste tips for our four-legged friends.
Buy the largest bag of dog food that you can possibly afford. Not only will this save you money in the long run, but this means fewer bags overall will end up in our landfills. I searched high and low for bulk dog food, but currently, that just isn’t an option where we live. I prefer to order my dog food on Chewy because my nearest pet store is close to 10 miles away, meaning it’s probably a little better for the planet if you order online anyway. As a mom, this makes it easier
on for the added benefit of not having to lift the 30 lb. bag while holding a baby. By the way, did you know that dogs can be vegetarian too – we choose to feed our furbabes
this vegetarian food.
Of course, we love to shower our furry friends with treats but all those little plastic packages can really add up. Most pet food stores have a bulk treat section (PetCo does for sure!) where you can stock up for your pups. I just take a paper bag instead of a jar or container because I haven’t had success with taring the container at a pet food store. Another thing I love to give my dogs in the place of treats are carrots, apples cores and kale stems that would otherwise go
into the compost bin. They LOVE these treats.
Instead of paying for your dogs to be groomed, consider grooming them yourself if you are able. Not only does it foster a connection with your pup, but you’ll save money and packaging because you choose what products you use. I promise clipping dog nails isn’t as intimidating as it first appears. A simple YouTube search will help you there.
Brushing our dogs’ teeth couldn’t be more simple, we just use one of our old bamboo toothbrushes and scrub.
As for shampoo, I was so excited when I found that Zum makes a package free dog soap (I believe there are other brands as well). It smells amazing and leaves my dogs’ coats with a beautiful sheen. One thing to note here is that it may be worth it to research how often your dog should be washed. For example, my hound dog could be washed as frequently as every week because he loves to be dirty and his short hair gets oily rather quickly. My husky, however, she is more like a cat in that she grooms herself and most times a thorough brushing does the trick. Fewer washes mean less water wasted.
While of course, we want to shower our furbabes with all the latest and greatest, sometimes the simple things work better. Dog gear is no exception.
For years, I would replace my dogs’ beds every year…that’s a lot of unnecessary waste. A few years back, I found these hammock beds for dogs which are able to be hosed down if any messes occur. They also elevate my pups off the ground to allow for more air flow around their entire body – aka, a cooler fido. They’re a little more pricey up front, but let me tell you that after dogs playing chase and tag and bouncing on them for three years now, they are worth every penny. To be honest, I wouldn’t have one for myself!
Keep the other gear to a minimum, really. Dogs just want our love and affection. No need for all the crazy toys. In my experience, they just get destroyed in 10 minutes anyway.
If you live in a city or apartment and you have to pick your pup’s waste up and discard of it, there are a few options I used to use when we lived in an apartment. We used the BioBag biodegradable poop bags but I didn’t realize that they weren’t the best option. More earth friendly options would include burying your pet’s poo, flushing (check with your city for guidelines and to get the okay), and having a pet only compost. You definitely don’t want to mix your pet’s feces with your veggie compost bin. You can read a little more about that here.
“Dog towels” – this is a concept I started using years ago when we lived in Oregon and my dogs’ paws would get so muddy during the rainy season. I retired four of our old bath towels with holes in them and they became the “dog towels.” We use them for everything from dirty paws, throw up, a snuggly blanket to drying the dogs’ fur. Just pop them in the wash when they need a clean. I wouldn’t recommend these for feces, however. I just toilet paper for that.
For pest control, consider looking into essential oils. There are some wonderful essential oils specifically made to use on pets that have worked wonders for keeping fleas and ticks at bay.
Also, I have to mention diatomaceous earth. It is a wonderful alternative to conventional pest control. You can buy it in a large paper bag and sprinkle it around the yard or on your carpet before vacuuming and (you and) your pets can ingest it, as well! It kills parasites, fleas, mites…the list goes on! It’s an amazing low-waste, toxin-free alternative to conventional pest control. (Bonus: DE is also a super helpful cleaning agent for around the house as well!) I think I could do an entire post dedicated to diatomaceous earth, honestly!
I hope you found this post helpful, and I’d love to know – anyone have any tips for a more zero waste litter box for cats?
Tess is an earth-conscious mama living in Tennessee and is into gardening and natural parenting. She’s all about living a zero waste, vegan lifestyle in a non-zero waste city. Lern more about her on her YouTube channel, Naturally Tess or her Instagram @simpleveganhome