10 Sustainable Practices For All Pet Parents

10 Sustainable Practices For All Pet Parents

Reducing the hooman carbon footprint is key to sustainable living. But, what about pets? Do they have a carbon footprint, too?

Researchers from PSC say dog and cat supplies alone contribute over 300 million pounds yearly to landfills. While Texas is well above the national average recycling rate, coming in at 22.7%, we still have much to do to reduce pet waste.

Eager to do your part? Here are our top tips and tricks for sustainable pet parenting, along with some of our favorite eco-friendly brands. 

Here are our crew’s top 10 sustainable practices for every pet parent: 
  1. Homemade bone broth
  2. Compost dog bones
  3. Double-duty treats
  4. Catnip spray
  5. Recycle pet food bags
  6. TerraCycle
  7. Donate old crates
  8. Sustainable cat litter
  9. Biodegraded poo bags
  10. Reusable puppy mat

Give old bones a new life

Dog with marrow boneBuying natural bones is already an eco-friendly alternative to plastic chew toys. Bones and hard chews help improve dental health by scraping away plaque, controlling tartar buildup, and maintaining gum health.

The goal of bone feeding is to gnaw off any soft tissue, such as marrow or tendon, not to consume the entire bone. Once your pup has finished their bone - don't toss it in the trash. Boil it! 🥘

By boiling old marrow bones in water, you're providing your pup with an ultra-hydrating broth, essentially for free. This gives bones an extra life before being discarded for composting.

Directions for homemade bone broth:

Step 1: Gather up raw or smoked bones
Step 2: Place in a pot w/ enough water to cover the bone(s) - 1.5 cups per bone
Step 3: Boil for 5 to 10 minutes & let it cool

With your homemade bone broth, you can top your pet's kibble or freeze-dried food for an extra nutritious meal or as a high-value treat.

Tomlinson's Pro Tip: Freeze homemade bone broth into cubes for a cooling Summer treat.


Can I compost it? Yes, you can!

The City of Austin allows the composting of cooked or raw meat, poultry and seafood - includes bones. Huge victory for earthworms 🪱

This policy covers all of Tomlinson's raw and smoked bones! So, next time your pup has finished up a bone and you’ve boiled it for some extra bone broth, give back to your environment by tossing the leftover bones into a composting bin. 

Source City of Austin - Composting Bin Green

Bones decompose in 3 to 6 months and are a great alternative to plastic chews that are not decomposable. Purchases and choices like this directly impact our planet and reduce your pet's carbon footprint.

Learn more about composting in Austin here. 


Double-duty treats

Double-Duty Treats or Toppers are foods that serve two purposes for our furry friends: meal & snack. This includes: canned wet food, freeze-dried, meal mixers, or break apart snacks

Toppers are a great addition to your dog or cat’s meal. While we could talk all day about the benefits of adding wet foods and freeze-dried to your dog or cat's kibble, let's focus on why these items are both environmentally friendly and wallet-savvy. 

Sustainable pet food

Double-duty treats and toppers will push your wallet a little further by making the most of your purchases. Next time when you're selecting add-ons for your pet, think about whether that item could be used as a meal substitute, treat, or mid-day snack. 

Here are a few examples of a double-duty treat:
Have cats & dogs? Check out Northwest Naturals Raw Rewards 🙌


Every cat's dream 📦

Cat playing in a cardboard box

The age-old cat trick, using old cardboard boxes for cat playhouses. But, we’ll do you one better. 

Introducing From the Field Catnip Rejuvenator Spray! All those old toys and stacked-up subscription boxes can be given a second life with just a spray or two.

This catnip spray for cats is made from catnip essential oil, not catnip extract. This means From The Field Catnip Spray is more potent, non-toxic, and earth-friendly. Simply spray on old toys that have lost their nippy scent, pieces of paper, or inside a cardboard box and watch your kitty go wild!

Not only will you be able to reuse boxes and toys with this catnip spray, but you'll save money and reduce your environmental impact by purchasing fewer cat products down the road.


Reduce, reuse, recycle!

Much like composting, recycling plastic is easier than ever before in Austin, Texas. And although we know much of recycling ends up in landfills, directly taking your plastics to the correct receptacle is a great step towards sustainability.

Source: HEB Sustainability

Now at almost every large grocery retailer, like H.E.B. and Whole Foods, you can recycle your plastic pet food bags. This is one of the best ways pet owners can minimize their environmental impact.

How to prep your plastic pet items for recycling:
  1. Check bag for a recycling number
  2. Clean and rinse with water
  3. Remove any paper receipts or stickers

This ensures that sorting goes smoothly and no other items will be contaminated in the recycling process.

Cans? Recycle those in your City of Austin blue bin!


Hard to recycle items?

Turn your pet food and supply packaging into resources with TerraCycle! TerraCycle offers free recycling programs to help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste - like wet food packaging and kibble bags.

Many of our Pet Food brands, like Open Farm, encourage TerraCycle for their products. It’s an easy four-step process: 

Visit TerraCycle to find all the participating brands and how you can become a zero-waste pet parent.


Sustainable scoopin'

Pine Pellet Animal Bedding

A well-kept litter box is a major factor in a cat's overall health.

Since it's recommended that you change out your cat's box every 2 to 3 weeks with fresh litter, it's important to choose a product that is has a low environmental impact and high cleanliness score.

Choosing a renewable, biodegradable litter option using crops like corn, cassava, and pine, is a great step towards eco-friendly pet parenting. Most of the time, these types of brands outperform clay litter in both clumping and deodorizing.

Here are a few brands that we carry that are certified sustainable:

For more ways to reduce your environmental footprint, purchase a litter mat. Not only does this keep your cat's space clean, but it catches loose and unused cat litter that falls out during use. Every once in a while, you can just shake these pellets or granules back into your cat's litter box.


Donate kennel & crates

Rescues are always in need of crates. Safely transferring animals to and from is almost always done with crates and kennels. And with large shelters, like Austin Animal Center, these items are in high demand.

If your pet has outgrown its kennel or travel crate, consider donating it to your location animal shelter. Even if it’s a little beat up, your kennel will certainly be put to good use. 

Click here to browse our list of rescues to donate old or unused kennels and crates to!


Poo bags of the future

Eco-Friendly Poop Bags

Dog poop accounts for one of the largest water pollutants in the US. When not disposed of correctly, dog waste finds itself in our waterways. Yuck! Not to mention it's against the law in Austin, Texas.

Picking up and throwing away your dog’s waste promotes a clean community and healthy environment. Go one step further by using 100% biodegradable poop bags!

Metro Paws is a great option when looking for eco-friendly doggie bags. These odor-blocking baggies will fully degrade within 3 to 6 months, leaving no trace of plastic or ink behind. 

Tomlinson’s Pro Tip: Use these for cleaning out kitty litter boxes to save plastic bags.


Puppy pad 2.0

Out with the old in with the innovative!

If you are puppy training, our Tall Tails Pee Pad is a machine washable, reusable product that will protect your floors and reduce the number of plastic pee pads in landfills every year.

This sustainable option not only works as an absorbent pee pad but can operate as a food and water rug.

Our Tall Tails Pee Pas saves you money on materials costs and carpet cleaning - it's a win-win!


Looking for more zero-waste tips?

Drop us a line at howdy@tomlinsons.com. Tomlinson's is your go-to pet supply store for natural, healthy pet products in Austin and the Central Texas region. Let us help prepare you and your home for your pet(s). 

Visit our shop full of products sold through team members trained in animal nutrition. Pass by our stores with your adorable pet for some treat samples and loving ear rubs.

Featured Products

Tomlinson's Poop Bags

Make sure to grab some of these sturdy, blue waste bags before your morning and evening stroll! Dog Bag Highlights: Unscented Tie up easily Contain...

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PetMate Cat Litter Pan, Large

Description PetMate Cat Litter Pan is one of the sturdiest litter pans available due to an exclusive design-break pattern that improves structura...

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Primal Beef Marrow Bone Raw Dog Chews, 6 pack

Description Chew Meter Ingredients GTD Analysis Note: Frozen foods, bones, and supplements are eligible for store pick up or local delivery o...

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