How to be Eco-Friendly & Sustainable With Your Dog

vegan dog collars vegan dogs Vegan Pet Accessories

If you have recently got a new dog or started the year wondering how to reduce your carbon footprint and be more sustainable and eco-friendly, we have some tips below to get started with! Luckily consumers are becoming more environmentally aware of their footprint, or pawprint in this case, so there are now plenty of eco friendly options available to help you care for your dog or puppy. We go through some of the more sustainable and eco-friendly dog food options, collars, leads, harnesses, accessories, toys and poop bags below! 

More Sustainable Dog Food Options 

The biggest thing your dog will consume is their food so it’s really important to consider all the different options available. In more recent years there have been plenty of new more sustainable options designed for dogs including vegan dog food and insect based dog food. Some people can feel strongly about those two options and other people think they are great, so it’s up to you to decide what you think will work for you and your dog, as well as your budget. We have written separately about whether cats and dogs can be vegan, which you can read here. It is possible to feed a dog a nutritionally balanced vegan diet and they are not obligate carnivores like cats. Having said that, if you are going to make the switch,  you should make sure you use a brand that is a complete balanced food or consult your vet to ensure your dog is getting all the nutrients they need. Some vegan dog food brands available in the UK include The Pack, Benevo, Yarrah and Noochy Poochy. Lily’s Kitchen also currently have two vegan wet food options available along with some vegan treats so you might be able to spot these in your local supermarket! Whilst some people might not be ready to make the switch to vegan dog food for 100% of their dog’s diet, you can start by giving them some vegan food along with their other food so they have a flexitarian diet. Another option which is more sustainable than animal protein is insect protein. Some insect based brands in the UK include Yora, Percuro and Bug Bakes (you might have seen Bug Bakes on Dragon’s Den!). Each brand produces nutritionally complete food. Some of the benefits that make insect based dog food more sustainable is that the insects feed on food waste (clean food waste, the type you would put on a compost heap!) and then produce compost, it also uses less land, water and greenhouse gases per gram of protein compared to animal protein. If vegan food or insect based food isn’t an option for now, then there are plenty of dog food brands that use meat reared in the UK, which will mean less food miles and a lower carbon footprint, it’s best to look for organic and free range options too. Fish and poultry generally use less resources than other animal proteins such as beef, so that’s also something to be aware of when choosing food for your dog. The BBC has a useful chart of common foods and the associated carbon footprint, including fish, poultry, meat, fruit and vegetables, so it’s worth having a look to see if you can find the ingredients you are planning to feed your dog. You might notice that UK caught sardines and mackerel are much lower than tuna from Seychelles, so it’s worth thinking about what type of fish, poultry or meat you choose and how far it has travelled, as they can vary considerably. Another thing to consider, if you research it properly and get some advice from your vet, is cooking for your dog at home, rather than buying premade food, so then you can include the exact ingredients you want and will most likely also reduce your packaging use as you can reuse containers such as glass Kilner jars to store homemade food.   

The Pack vegan dog food

The Pack vegan dog food 

Choose Dog Food Packaging That Can Be Recycled 

It’s not just the food you choose to feed your dog that can impact the environment, it’s also the packaging! Common wet food packaging includes tins, which are widely recyclable, but you can also find wet food in plastic pouches, plastic pots, metal trays and other materials. As mentioned, tins are widely and easily recycled, but some of the other materials, such as the plastic pouches can often be recycled with a bit more effort. Most soft plastic pouches can’t be recycled with your recycled household waste collection, but sometimes larger supermarkets will have recycling bins available for these materials. Some supermarkets, such as Co-op, are now offering soft plastic recycling in some of their stores, which in Co-op's case includes pet food pouches on the list of accepted soft plastics, so it's likely with such initiatives that soft plastic recycling will become easier. Plastic pots can often be easily recycled with your recycled waste collection, but be careful to check on the packaging, as often the peel away film on the pot is not currently recyclable with your home recycling. Dry dog food is mostly sold in soft plastic or paper packaging. Paper packaging is often easier to recycle, as it can be done at home, but some soft plastics can also be recycled now, as mentioned above. Some packaging is also biodegradable and compostable, but it’s important to check if it needs to be home composted or industrially composted, home composting is fairly straightforward if you have a compost heap and industrial composting can often be accessed if your local council collects food waste destined for industrial composting, but it’s always worth checking with your local council to check it will be accepted first. As mentioned above, you can also choose to make your own homemade food if you know what you are doing and have sought some advice from your vet, so think of more eco friendly ways of storing it, such as reusable glass containers.   

Lilly's Kitchen recyclable and compostable paper dog food bag

A Lily's Kitchen recyclable and compostable paper dry dog food bag 

Choose More Sustainable, Eco-Friendly & Vegan Accessories For Your Dog

At Noggins & Binkles all of our dog accessories are vegan and we have our eye on choosing the most sustainable and eco friendly materials that we can, including cork, Pinatex, organic cotton and silicone. Vegan materials are more ethical as no animals are killed to produce them and they are generally more sustainable and eco friendly. Kerring, who own luxury fashion houses such as Gucci and Balenciaga, recently produced an environmental profit and loss account on the different materials that they use, including animal leather and animal fibres and also other vegan alternatives and the vegan alternatives used much less resources, even the plastic and synthetic fibres materials. It looked at different factors including air emissions, land use, waste, water consumption and water pollution. Some people will argue that animal leather is a natural product, but it takes lots of resources and chemicals to turn it into the leather we know, as the report shows. Some vegan leathers are predominately made of plastic, including PVC and PU, which can release toxins during the manufacturing process and they use oil based polymers, so require fossil fuels. PVC tends to be worse than PU, so it’s best to look for vegan leathers that don’t contain these materials if possible. Another thing to consider is how durable are the products you are choosing to buy for your dog. Aim to choose strong dog collars and leads that aren’t going to fall apart so that they will last a long time. With dog toys, if you know your dog is going to chew and rip apart their toys, try to choose dog toys made with natural materials, rather than plastic, such as natural cotton and hemp. You can also look out for recycled materials too!

Sustainable, eco-friendly and vegan dog accessories

Gorgeous Nora wearing her Noggins & Binkles cotton harness and vegan cork leather lead

Recycle Items Into Dog Toys

If you don’t want to buy new toys for your dog knowing that they will eventually end up chewed up and in the bin, consider saving yourself some money and recycling some old items, which is great for the environment too! In your house, you might have some old cotton rope lying around, if it’s big enough you can tie some knots in a piece and make your very own cotton rope dog chew toy! Old clothes can also be repurposed into chew toys; perhaps you have an old pair of jeans or a t-shirt with some holes in that aren’t suitable for wearing anymore, but could be cut up and fashioned into a dog chew toy. Get creative and cut strips and plait them and add some knots at the ends! Dogs also love things found on walks, a nice wood stick being a favourite, so let them carry it home so they can continue playing with it. As with any toy, remember it’s always important to keep an eye on your dog and the toy and regularly check it for any loose parts that could become a hazard.

Pass on Any Unwanted Collars, Leads and Toys

Your dog may no longer need their old collars, leads and toys, so if they are in good condition check with your local animal rescue centre to see if they can use them or pass them to a friend. When you first welcome your dog home they might be small and wear a small collar, so once they have outgrown it you can pass it on or you can keep hold of it if you are planning on adding to your furry family in the future!

Use Eco-Friendly Dog Poop Bags

After food, dog poo bags are probably the second largest thing you will consume so it’s important to make sure you are using a biodegradable and compostable dog poo bag. It’s always important to check exactly how they should be disposed of with the manufacturer (if not stated on the packaging). Corn starch is a popular material for eco friendly compostable and biodegradable dog poop bags and it will normally naturally breakdown in around 3-6 months, it’s probably the same material that your home kitchen waste compost bags are made of!  

Make Homemade Treats

In addition to food, you will most likely want to have some nice dog treats, which are great for helping with training too! There are some readily available natural dog treats on the market, including some vegan plant based treats, but it’s also possible to make your own at home and save on the packaging and will most likely cost less to make too! You can use fun shaped cookie cutters too to personalise your dog treats! There are plenty of recipes available online and common ingredients include peanut butter and oats, just be sure to make sure the ingredients you use are as natural as possible and don’t contain any additives that could be harmful to your dog, such as sweeteners.

Adopt Don't Shop

One of the first decisions you will most likely make, after deciding you would like a dog to join your family, is what sort of dog and where are you going to find them. Adoption always comes to our minds first (we have two rescue cats!) and there are plenty of dogs in rescue centres looking for good homes, so that’s a good place to start. It’s always important to neuter your dog so you aren’t contributing to anymore dogs needing homes and it can also help with their behaviour and health. If you do choose to buy from a breeder, be sure to do lots of research and only buy from a trusted and registered breeder and not from an illegal puppy farm.

Walk With Your Dog Instead of Driving

A big part of having a dog is daily dog walking, at least two times a day, so why not walk your dog instead of driving when you can. This could be to visit friends or to go for lunch at a local dog friendly pub! Adding on a walk before and after instead of driving will keep you and your dog fitter and it’s also better for the environment!

Reduce Your Plastic Use Where You Can

As mentioned above, you can reduce your plastic consumption in many different ways when looking after your dog. Be sure to reduce plastic when choosing food, poop bags, collars,  leads and toys. If you do use plastic regularly for any of these things, make sure it can be recycled!

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