Going Green - Keeping your pets eco-friendly is good for the environment

Green campaigner and consumer expert, Angela Terry, separates climate change facts from fiction and explains how you can take simple, practical steps to help save the planet. Follow @ouronehome & visithttps://onehome.org.uk/ for more advice.

Keeping pets eco-friendly (photo: sonsedskaya - stock.adobe.com)
Keeping pets eco-friendly (photo: sonsedskaya - stock.adobe.com)

Green campaigner and consumer expert, Angela Terry, separates climate change facts from fiction and explains how you can take simple, practical steps to help save the planet. Follow @ouronehome & visithttps://onehome.org.uk/ for more advice.

Q: How do I make my pet more eco-friendly?

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A: We all love our furry friends.Sadly, the increasing numbers of domestic cats and dogs are having an impact on the planet.

Lockdown saw a dramatic rise in pet ownership.

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    According to animal charity PDSA’s 2021 survey, there are 9.6 million dogs and 10.7 million cats in the UK.

    They create an awful lot of carbon emissions.

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    Trying to reduce your beloved pet’s carbon pawprint is a great idea.

    Food

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    By far the biggest environmental impact comes from pet food.

    Most is made from the by-products of intensively-reared meat.

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    Indeed, pets are responsible for about a quarter of global meat production’s greenhouse gas emissions.

    Each year an area double the size of the UK is used just to make dry foods for the world’s cats and dogs.

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    Thankfully, an increasing number of eco-friendly pet foods are coming onto the market.

    Yora offers dog and cat foods made from specially-reared grubs, while Lovebug makes insect-based cat food.

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    These grubs and insects are nutritious – as well as much more sustainable than cows, sheep or chicken, as they need far less land, food and water.

    Their meat is also good for pets with allergies, as research shows that the most common allergens for dogs are beef, dairy and chicken – while for cats it’s beef, fish and chicken.

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    Some eco-conscious pet owners are opting for super sustainable plant-based food, especially for dogs, who are omnivores like us.

    Brands include Benevo, Omni and Hownd.

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    Of course, you don’t need to serve up such foods every day, perhaps just a few times a week.

    And always seek the guidance of your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet.

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    Waste matters

    More cats and dogs means more poo, which isn’t great news for the environment.

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    It’s good to consider how you dispose of it.

    Environmentally, a plastic bag of dog waste isn’t actually that great an idea.

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    It’s preserving organic matter in ecologically harmful plastic and then sending it to landfill, where it can’t decompose.

    You can buy compostable bags. Look out for the ones made from corn starch, as they don’t contain harmful microplastics. If you’re trying to save money, you can reuse plastic bags from your kitchen, such as cereal or bread bags.

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    In terms of cat litter, biodegradable versions are available. Natusan is made out of wood by-products from sustainable forestry – rather than the usual clay, which doesn’t biodegrade and is also responsible for deforestation and wildlife habitat loss when it’s mined.

    Celebrity spot

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    London Fashion starts on February 18, British designers at the forefront of eco-conscious style.

    Fashion legend Vivienne Westwood advocates avoiding overconsumption and buying high quality, sustainably made clothes.

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    Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood (photo: Patrick Kovarik/AFP via Getty Images)

    Also, organic cotton, low-impact dyeing and sustainable fabrics – such as coir, from coconut hulls, and nettle-based materials.

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    Stella McCartney’s brand has always been about luxury eco chic. Her fur and leather-free designs feature recycled fabrics and forest-friendly viscose.

    Green swap

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    In your coffee machine, swap single-use plastic coffee pods for refillable aluminium ones.

    Swap single-use plastic coffee pods for refillable aluminium ones (photo: adrian_ilie825 - stock.adobe.com)
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    Considering that 30,000 plastic coffee pods go to landfill each month taking 500 years to decompose, it makes environmental sense and won’t affect coffee taste.

    Deciding which plant milk is simply best for you

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    Plant milks are enjoying phenomenal growth, partly due to people’s concerns about the environment.

    Research from analysts Nielsen shows that their UK sales have soared by 107 per cent in the last two years and are now worth £278m.

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    But they don’t all have the same eco credentials.

    Which one’s the greenest?

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    Almond milk

    Almond milk has a mild, nutty flavour and thick, creamy consistency.

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    It’s a brilliant source of calcium and vitamin E.

    Environmentally, it’s not the best option though.

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    Almonds require a lot of water to grow and 80 per cent of them are grown intensively in California, which has suffered significant drought in recent years.

    Coconut milk

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    The lightest and most refreshing of all the plant-based milk, coconut has a sweet flavour.

    Gluten-free, it’s the perfect addition to curries and smoothies.

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    However, coconuts come from exotic climates and aren’t easy to grow.

    Farmers are often paid poorly for their efforts – plus global trade often diverts this food source away from local populations.

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    So if you love coconut milk, use it sparingly.

    Soya milk

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    Soya milk is a great alternative to dairy milk (photo: HandmadePictures - stock.adobe.com)

    Regarded as the original plant-based milk, soya milk has been made for hundreds of years.

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    A great source of vitamin D and B2, it’s light and versatile. Environmentally, growing soy requires low land and water use.

    It doesn’t produce high greenhouse gas emissions. However, some key soya-producing parts of the world – especially Brazil and other countries in the Amazon basin – are having major problems with soya-related deforestation.

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    Be sure to choose milk that’s got Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) certification.

    Oat milk

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    One of the most popular dairy alternatives, oat milk is creamy, drinkable by the glass and works well in baking.

    It’s also a great source of vitamin A and vitamin D. Environmentally, oats are the best option. They can be grown easily here in the UK, do not lead to water shortage problems and are not associated with deforestation. Go organic to be even greener.

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    Dairy

    Finally, it’s good to note that all plant-based milks are more eco-friendly than dairy milk. It’s all down to the cows.

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    At any given moment there are around 264 million dairy cows in the world. Requiring huge volumes of land, water and food, they also release methane gas – which is up to 34 times more harmful than CO2.

    Farmed animals are responsible for 27 per cent of global methane emissions.

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    Fact or fiction

    Stopping and re-starting your car is better than it idling. True!

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    A running engine damages the climate and human health.

    Royal College of Physicians says 40,000 UK deaths are linked to air pollution each year – avoid it on school run!