Helping your furry friends and the environment: tips for decreasing your pets’ carbon footprint
Can you believe the story about the CEO of a luxury airline who argues that pets emit the same amount of carbon pollution as private jets?
During the Business of Luxury summit in Monaco, Luxaviation CEO Patrick Hansen stated that according to calculations, the average-sized dog emits 770kg of CO2 per year.2
-annual emissions equivalent.
2e per year
Does Hansen have a theory? One of the customers of his company emits approximately 2.1 tonnes of CO2e annually. 2
In one year, it is equivalent to having three dogs as pets.
The high-flyer’s use of pets to defend his industry’s carbon emissions received criticism from animal lovers, but it also drew attention to a seldom-discussed aspect of pet ownership.
“Most of our daily actions have an impact on the environment, so it’s important to be aware of how owning a pet can contribute,” explains Dr. Elise Anderson, a veterinarian and project lead for Vets for Climate Action. “The extent of this impact may differ based on the type and quantity of pets, but it’s a factor that should be taken into account.”
Here are some valuable suggestions for reducing the environmental impact of your pet.
Size does matter
Anderson has a straightforward reply to those who doubt the idea that larger pets have a greater impact on the environment.
According to her, the comparison is like the type of car one chooses to drive. Just as individuals may contemplate an electric car or a compact car, they should also approach their pet’s size with a similar mindset.
“I will never discourage having a pet – they bring numerous wonderful advantages to our lives. However, I deliberately selected a pet with a low carbon footprint.”
That pet is a budgerigar called Sunny, while Anderson also has a native turtle whose tank lights, heater and filter are powered by her home’s solar panels. She says there has also been a rise in the number of people opting for house rabbits that roam indoors as a cat would but with the environmental benefits of a vegetarian diet.
She says that it is understandable for people to have a strong bond with their current pets, but the size of a new pet should also be taken into consideration.
Food for thought
The majority of a dog or cat’s carbon footprint is attributed to the food it consumes, resulting in a significant environmental impact.
In 2017, Gregory Okin, a geography professor at UCLA, discovered that dogs and cats contribute to about 30% of the environmental effects caused by meat consumption in the United States. If we were to consider a hypothetical country made up of the 163 million domesticated dogs and cats in the US, it would place fifth in worldwide meat consumption, only behind Russia, Brazil, the US, and China.
According to Rebecca Linigen, the national director of animal welfare organization Four Paws Australia, the diet we provide for our pets can have a similar effect on environmental sustainability as our own dietary choices.
A good starting point is to avoid overfeeding your pet, which not only helps maintain its health, but also has additional benefits.
Next, it involves implementing certain environmentally-friendly techniques to decrease the amount of emissions produced by one’s diet.
Give a dog a treat.
According to Linigen, as omnivorous animals, dogs can consume two to three meals that are suitable for vegetarians per week.
These can be consumed on their own or by adding a higher ratio of plant-based foods to meals centered around meat.
Although some pet owners may treat their pets to high-quality meat or minced meat meant for human consumption, the truth is that it has a negative impact on the environment and ultimately, your pet does not notice or appreciate the difference.
According to Linigen, feeding high-quality meats that are suitable for human consumption to both dogs and cats (which are animals that need to eat meat) will not make them any happier or healthier. This practice also leads to the need for raising more farm animals and ultimately contributes to increased greenhouse gas emissions.
As long as the nutrient ratio is well-proportioned, pet food that includes leftovers and slaughterhouse byproducts such as tripe or tongue is completely suitable.
A potentially less noticeable alternative to meat is insect protein.
According to Anderson, pet foods made from insects could potentially replace all meat in a dog’s diet and decrease the amount of meat consumed by cats.
An alternative is to enter the kitchen and prepare your own dishes.
Eating less meat and using less packaging is encouraged, but Anderson may not be willing to provide a recipe.
According to her, a person’s nutritional requirements are influenced by a variety of factors such as their size, shape, and energy needs.
It is important to provide different diets for a dog that is sedentary versus a dog that is active. Consulting a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist is the best way to determine the appropriate nutrient balance for each type of dog.
Minimize waste to avoid lacking resources.
Anderson advises individuals to reconsider before gathering their pet’s feces and placing it in a plastic bag to be disposed of in a landfill.
She suggests that while pet waste may not have as big of an impact as fossil fuels, there are methods to dispose of it with a smaller environmental footprint.
Some options for managing pet waste at home are specially made composting or worm farming systems. When out and about, using a compostable or biodegradable bag instead of a plastic one is also a good choice.
Spend your money wisely.
Anderson states that consumers hold significant influence in driving change, and this applies to the pet industry as well.
Some amazing creators are making dog collars, leads, and toys that are made entirely out of recycled materials from consumers.
The topic could also pertain to saving money – should you purchase new bedding for your pet or make use of those old towels stored in the back of your closet?
According to Anderson, pet owners should utilize their established connections with their veterinarian to inquire about their clinic’s actions regarding climate change.
A possible approach is to inquire whether they have enrolled in the Climate Care Program offered by Vets for Climate Action. According to Anderson, this program can assist clinics in reducing carbon emissions by approximately 50%.
The speaker notes that while the effects of climate change on humans are often discussed, we tend to overlook its impact on animals.
Many individuals are passionate about animals and any effort to lessen the effects of climate change has positive implications for the animals we care for.
Tip of the week from our readers
Tenants in Victorian homes who wish to install solar panels can propose that their landlord take advantage of a loan and rebate offered by Solar Vic. Additionally, there are alternatives for the solar expenses to be incorporated into the rent, allowing for the solar repayments to remain with the property even if the tenants move out.
– Rowan Moorey, East Melbourne