I love my pup more than anything. But, going zero waste with a dog has been challenging. I would like for you to meet my fluff ball, Nala. We rescued her at one, and she has severe separation anxiety. So, we do almost everything as a family. She comes to work, out to eat, and even the movies! We like to go to the drive in theatre where she's queen of the backseat.
Buying dog food is one of the biggest zero waste challenges. Dogs love food. Well, most dogs. Mine isn't very food motivated, except when it comes to, ya know - our food.
When we rescued Nala, she was severely under weight and would refuse to eat. So, we would mix a couple of tablespoons of wet dog food to mix in with her kibble to entice her to eat. I think she got a little spoiled; because, she won't eat dry kibble. Now I just drizzle homemade stock over the kibble, and she loves it! As far as kibble goes, I was left with three options.
- Buy it in Bulk: The only place that sells dog food in bulk is Rainbow. I have heard that it is excellent quality. But, it isn't convenient. I'm hardly ever in the area, and the drive or train or ferry ride would make a 2 to 4 hour trip.
- Make it: I don't feel comfortable doing that at all. I thought I could handle it, but the vitamins and minerals dogs need are very different from our own. I was reading a study where they asked 100 vets to come up with a meal plan to meet all of a dogs nutritional needs and only 7 had complete nutrition. 7! Me = Not Qualified.
- Buy it with Recyclable Packaging: This of course is not ideal, but I know my dog is getting a high quality food and all of her daily nutritional values are being met.
Treats have been the easiest switch. It's simple to make treats, but most spoil quickly. I'm looking for a good treat that has a longer shelf life than 2 days. As soon as I find it, I will share! Our local pet boutique has treats in bulk that are made with decent ingredients, and pretty much every single PetCo has a treat bar. Just bring your own bag to fill up.
This will be really specific to your dog. I know Nala will destroy a stuffed animal in 3 seconds flat. So, we don't buy them. If your dog likes stuffed animals, they're making some really cute ones from compostable fabric like hemp! My mom, bought Nala a hemp squirrel. (Which she surprisingly hasn't destroyed) Nala is a chewer, so we try to stick to bones. We buy toys meant to last. For us that means femur bones and antlers. I've found both of these bones with minimal packaging at the pet store. When the antlers get to small for her, I pass them along to a friend's smaller dog.
ESSENTIALS Leash, Harness, Collar, Bowls, Kennel, Beds
My biggest piece of advice is buy to last. We bought Nala's harness, collar, and leash when we first got her, and I don't plan on buying another one for the next several years. If one falls apart, we will look for one made out of a compostable material. We have 5 bowls in total. One stainless set for home and work (100% recyclable!!) and one ceramic water bowl for the bedroom at night.
Her kennel is made of solid steel and will outlast all of us. It should repair easily if anything does happen, and I will pass it along to another dog when we don't have a need for it. Her bed is supposed to be chew proof and dig proof. So, far it's lived up to its claims. I'm really hoping it's with us for the next decade.
You cannot leave dog poop on the sidewalk. Ever. Ever. Ever. Pick up after your dog, please. Unfortunately, there's no perfect solution to this problem. We typically let her go in the backyard and then shovel it into a hole. When we're at work, we let her go in the tall brush where no one ever walks. But, if she ever poops while we're out and about, we always have a bag. Here's where you have options. (I've used the first two)
- Cornstarch: They say they're made from a cornstarch polymer. I don't know if they're mixed plastic. It claims to biodegrade. I've buried one to see what actually happens. (I'll let you know in about a year!)
- Flushpuppies: Made of a polyvinyl alcohol that's supposed to be certified compostable and dissolve in water. Anything left will be filtered out by the water plant like toilet paper. I called the water plant to see if this was true and to get their opinion. They didn't know. However, you cannot use these with anything too wet or when it's raining because the bag can start to dissolve.
- Toilet Paper: I've heard some people take toilet paper on their walk and then flush it at home. Which wouldn't be practical for me.
As a note: I want to say dog poop can be flushed you cannot flush cat poop.
Our water filtration system is not capable of filtering cat feces.
How do you keep your dog zero waste? How do you deal with poop?