Tips for evironmentally-friendly pet ownership

Welcome back guest blogger Andrea Nocito. Andrea currently works as manager for the Energy Savings Solutions program at UTSA. In her spare time, Andrea founded EcoStrategies, a sustainability planning and implementation firm. Andrea is truly a goddess of the green movement with her focus on helping every aspect of life become environmentally friendly. This week, Andrea tell us how pet ownership can be green--and she dosen't  mean by adopting Kermit. — Laura Carter I don’t know about you, but our dog is like our baby, particularly since we can curl up with her each night and she lets us carry her like a swaddled babe. Please hold your remarks of how crazy I am for later. We don’t have kids; bet you guessed that already. My husband calls her our little one our furkid. Urban Dictionary defines the term as “a pet that is treated as though it were someone's child.” Yep, pretty much. We do our best to consider the environment; we try to live eco-friendly. I got to thinking one day that our Mary Jane should be earning her keep, too! While I have entrusted her with the position as Chief Security Officer in our home, that doesn’t do much to give back or at the very least, be gentle to Mother Earth. So, I did some research and some people watching at the park. I have developed the following eco-friendly suggestions for us furkid owners. Let’s start with the easy ways to go green: accessories. When purchasing leashes be mindful of their materials in the product. Look for leashes made from hemp or other sturdy, natural fibers that are grown instead of chemically manufactured (like plastic). I’ve seen a few online made from recycled rubber. I’ll bet no dog is going to chew up that leash. Or, consider making your own accessory like a dog bed. Take an old pillow case, stuff it with old t-shirts and sew up the end! This reuse strategy extends the life of the fabrics reducing your impact on raw materials. And, if your pup is anything like Mary Jane, a bed of fabric that smells a bit like mommy and/or daddy and is soft is definitely something she’s going to plop herself down on. Let’s move on to something with a bit more teeth: dog food. Teeth, food, get it? Ha! Seriously though, like us, dogs require a balanced diet free of chemicals, additives, and preservatives. Both of the major pet store retailers, Petco and PetSmart carry food that is void of toxins, and some are even made with organic ingredients. Now wait just a minute ma’am! I’m suppose to spend extra money feeding my dog organic food when I don’t even do that for myself? Well, you should! In reality though, just read the label of the product your dog eats now. Does it have a bunch of words you can’t pronounce? Does it look like it is made with ingredients of sound quality? If so, buy it. Organic is not mandatory, but being an informed shopper is. Organic and all-natural products tend to have a decreased impact on the environment because the growth practices use less or no pesticides or fertilizers at all. Mother Nature loves that!

Finally, pick up after your dog. Please, for goodness sakes, do not allow your dog’s poop to degrade into the grass because it does not do that. Instead, it washes away when the sprinklers are turned on or when we get those annual four inches of rain each year. That messy water drains to creeks eventually entering our primary water supply, the Edwards Aquifer. Do you know what happens to our local water supplies when they get mixed with excrement? WARNING: I should have mentioned this before, please do not eat and read this article.

According to San Antonio Water System, 15% of people nationwide do not pick up after their pet. That’s 16 million people. How many furkid owners do you know with more than one pet? Pick up after your pet! For more information from San Antonio Water System, visit this link about water quality. Follow Andrea on Facebook or @eco_strategies for more green tips.