Recently, many people are making an increased effort to live a greener life and have a smaller negative impact on their environment. Some small steps that many people take include eating local food, driving less and using less chemical laden cleaning products. However, very few people have considered the environmental impact of having a pet. Pets can have a huge negative environmental impact through their food, grooming supplies, and even their waste. Fortunately, many companies are becoming more aware of environmentally-conscious pet owners and are offering greener alternatives. Being a green pet owner will take additional planning and sometimes additional expense, but having a smaller impact on the planet is often worth the time and trouble.


When purchasing a pet, the greenest option is to adopt from a shelter. These animals have been abandoned or lost and need a home. By adopting, one decreases the demand for puppies from breeders which often have poor conditions and only operate to turn a profit. Once a family finds a pet, spaying or neutering the pet is the only responsible thing to do. By fixing pets, it will help decrease overpopulation of cats and dogs. It has also been shown that a pet who has been fixed will live a longer and healthier life.

Some pet owners assume that buying organic or green pet food is better for the environment. While it is certainly healthier for the pet, it is not necessarily better for the planet. Most pet food is manufactured and shipped hundreds of miles to the store, creating a large amount of carbon emissions. If one is lucky, there may be natural pet food options available locally at a farmer's market or pet store. However, the best option is to make homemade pet food. There are dozens of recipes available online and they are all fairly simple. Using locally sourced ingredients is the greenest option when feeding a pet.

When purchasing accessories and supplies for a pet, look for durable and sustainable goods. There are several options for low-chemical grooming supplies like shampoo and cleansers. In addition to being greener, these are usually much kinder to pets sensitive skin. When purchasing leashes and collars, look for things made of materials like hemp or undyed cotton instead of acrylic or other man-made products.

Another responsibility of pet owners is to supervise them in the outdoors and pick up after their pets. Most people think that a small amount of pet waste does not make a difference, but they are not considering the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of other pet owners that probably think the same thing. Allowing pet waste to remain on the ground is unsanitary and can also cause bacteria to leech into the ground water. When scooping waste on the go, use biodegradable bags to pick up and dispose of the poop. For families with the space available, using a compost pile to dispose of waste is another great idea. For indoor cats, choose a sand or pine shavings based litter. The clay used in clumping litters is mined using strip mining techniques and is also unhealthy if eaten or breathed in by the cat or humans.

Remember that owning a pet is an investment and a responsibility. When choosing to have a pet, a family should also be willing to make a commitment to the animal and the environment. Making greener choices will result in a healthier pet and a cleaner planet.