In today's world, most of us are working hard to make the world a greener place. But while we struggle to reduce, reuse, and recycle at every opportunity, Fido is getting a free pass, the bunny is hopping around anywhere he wants, and the cat is mocking us. Well, I say, no more!
Instead, I say we put our pets to work in making the world just a little bit greener. While we can't expect our beloved creatures to separate the paper from the plastics, there are things that, together with our pets, we can do to make them a bit more green.
To that end, we have five great tips that can help make Fluffy a green pet ambassador. Well, maybe that is pushing things just a bit, but we do have some great tips to help make our pets, and the care of them, a bit easier on our planet.
Most people are taught that commercial dog food is perfectly balanced for Fido, and that people food is inherently bad for them. While there is some truth to that thought, it does not paint the complete picture. In fact, by taking the time to make our own dog food we can control the quality of the foodstuff that is going into our pets. By doing this, we save the packaging and transportation of the specific dog food, and it is incorporated with the regular food chain. Plus, don't forget that what Fido takes in, he eventually poops out, and it ends up in the environment.
Making your own dog food is not a difficult thing. The basic recipe requires one pound of ground meat (chicken, lamb, beef, liver, or even Tuna will work), two cups of brown rice, and some fresh vegetables that you have on hand. Cook and brown the meat, fix the rice, use a food processor to finely chop the vegetable of the moment (carrots always work well), and combine. We now have dog food.
Of course, verifying the menu choice with a vet is always a great idea, and you can tweak the recipe as needed. For example, you can add cod liver oil for a nice shiny coat, or add some powdered milk for a calcium boost. With a little effort you are treating Fido while helping the planet, and you reduce the chance of a potentially harmful dog food recall.
Now, before you think we are being cruel to poor Fido and making him do patrols around the clock, let me assure you that we have something better in mind. The next time you brush out your pampered pooch, collect the discarded hairs and redistribute them around the garden. The scent from the hairs will serve as a natural deterrent to pests, and you will not have to resort to more agressive, potentially harmful methods to protect your tomato and lettuce patch.
One thing you can say about that adorable little bunny - it likes to eat, and it likes to poop. In fact, that's probably two of its three favorite things to do (I'll leave you guessing on the third one). But did you know that bunny manure is a great thing to use in a flower garden? In fact, Fluffy's droppings are rich in organic matter, and can be used on a garden directly without composting.
If you want to get technical about it, according to Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, An Illustrated Guide to Organic Gardening by Sunset Publishing, typical bunny pellets have an N-P-K rating of 2.4 - 1.4 - .60. Way to go Fluffy - just keep doing what you do best, and it will be good for the garden, naturally.
So, we've discussed making Fido and Fluffy more green, but what about that aloof cat, Boots? Well, as it turns out, Boots is creating quite a mess with his, well, mess. That commercial kitty litter that gets strewn over the house often contains silica dust. Now, not only is silica dust often strip mined, it also happens to be a carcinogen. Throwing that stuff en masse into the landfills for future generations does not seem like a particularly good idea.
Instead, consider alternatives to traditional kitty litter. You can find litter that is made from recycled newspapers, and it is really quite absorbent. Another is wood based litter that is made from sawdust. It completely avoids the chemicals and provides an environmentally safe litter. Boots may like the natural scents even better. But if you do switch watch him close for a few days to make sure there are no adverse reactions from the persnickety beast.
Across many of the bird post offices scattered across the country, there are unflattering posters of Boots the Cat hung up with the words, Wanted, Dead or Alive plastered across it. This is because household cats are one of the biggest killers of birds on the planet. A typical house cat is well fed, rested, and ready for action at a moment's notice. Turning Boots loose on the neighborhood birds is like turning loose a trained prize fighter on bargain shoppers - it's not going to be fair - or pretty.
Instead, keep that feline away from the woods and park him indoors if he is not being supervised. Boots can get plenty of exercise going from sunny spot to more relaxing sunny spot in the house, and you won't have that nasty surprise of a dead bird perfectly laid out at your doorstep. Not only does it protect Boots from a lot of potential dangers, but you don't have to wonder about the health risks of that now deceased bird. And it allows the bird population to stay at a healthy number without a swarm of Ninja Kitties attacking them all the time.
There are more things that we can do with our pets to lessen their negative impact on the plant, we just have to be thinking about it when we can. After all, with the joy our pets give us, it is the least we can do for both them and our planet.
Great guide! I never knew that pet hair in a garden would ward off pests, excellent!
In the spring I filled little suet cages with the pet hair for the birds to use in building their nests.
For people who do not have a bunny to create poo-poo for their garden, folks can volunteer to clean cages at a bunny rescue or sanctuary and keep the proceeds for their flower and garden beds.
And, thank you for mentioning keeping cats indoors. There are so many health risks for cats that are allowed outside: cars, dogs, coyotes, poisoning, disease, fights with other cats, etc. In addition to protecting the bird population, you are being a responsible pet owner by keeping your kitty safely indoors. You are also avoiding a host of vet bills relating to various injuries an outdoor cat can endure.
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