Living lightly with Pets

Nicola Turner Behaviour Changer

I’ve learnt that ‘living a bit lighter on the planet’ isn’t a solo sport. We have the most impact when we bring others with us, and if you have pets in your household then they can come along on the living lightly journey too!


There are lots of ways to reduce the pawprint of our pets – but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Food: There are a lot of ways to reduce the impact of our pet food choices. It’s not about trying to find the perfect solution, but trying to make planet friendly choices that suit your pet, suit your budget and suit you. Looking at buying in bulk can reduce your packaging waste, and some package free stores where you can re-fill your own containers stock a range of dry pet food options. If you purchase food from a butcher or specialty pet food store, ask if you can bring your own container to avoid any extra packaging. Even the simple act of switching from non-recyclable to recyclable packaging is a win (just check your local council website to see what is recyclable in your area). What the product is made from and where it has been made can also make a difference. Consider buying local as a way to reduce food miles or understand the ingredients to see if you can make a switch to a lower impact option.
  • Pet poo: If you have a pet, you will have pet poo to deal with! Instead of it being destined for the rubbish bin, you could consider composting it. Manure from vegetarian animals can easily be added to a home compost, and dog poo can be composted by following a few simple rules. For dog poo you will want to have a separate inground compost bin and to only use the final compost on ornamental plants – to find out more, head to The Compost Collective.
  • Toys: If your pet is into toys, there are a few easy options to help lower your impact. Going for quality toys that will last might cost you more up front, but will reduce your waste and save you money in the long run. Sourcing second-hand can be a great way to give things a second life. I’m constantly seeing cat scratching posts in Op Shops at a fraction of the price of buying new. You could also make your own pet toys using things you have around the house – the internet abounds with ideas and instructions if you’re keen to DIY (just make sure they are safe for your furry friend to use).
  • Nature-friendly pets: Pets like cats and dogs can pose a significant threat to our native wildlife. The good news is that there are some really simple ways to reduce the risks. For cats, adding a bell to a quick release collar or giving them a curfew that keeps them in at night will make a huge difference. It’s also good to ensure your cat is well fed, and avoid feeding birds on your lawn to minimise temptation.
    Dog leashes are nature’s best friend! When you’re out walking your dog, pop them on a lead if there is potential of any native wildlife being around. For more tips on conservation friendly pets, check out the Department of Conservation.

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