Green Dog Blog
Here I’m endeavouring to combine two passions, pets and the environment.
We are in an unprecedented climate and ecological emergency and we need to change the way we live – NOW. Of course the way we keep our pets is also having a massive impact on the environment:
- 51% of UK adults own a pet.
- 26% of UK adults have a cat with an estimated population of 10.9 million pet cats
- 24% of the UK adult population have a dog with an estimated population of 10.1 million pet dogs
- 2% of the UK adult population have a rabbit with an estimated population of 1 million pet rabbits (pdsa 2020)
I first started to think about this properly when I came across ‘Time to eat the dog? – the real guide to sustainable living’ by Robert and Brenda Vale in 2009. Having researched the topic thoroughly myself, I now think the way they portrayed the impact of pets on the environment was for effect rather than accuracy but at the time, it got me thinking. Who is responsible for the carbon generated by our pets?
I have met environmentalists who don’t think we can justify keeping pets because of their environmental impact and others who view keeping pets as exploitative, wrong and unfair, but I don’t agree with this interpretation in that it assumes that we humans are empowered and in control where I see us, too (individually not collectively), as powerless victims of the modern world with little real agency. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that people derive immense physiological and psychological benefits from living with pets, and many of us choose to have pets because they connect us with the present moment and a more natural way of being. The crazier the human world, it seems, the more we need pets – as the whole experience of Lockdown has shown us.
Although we might not have much real much agency in this crazy world, we do have the power to reflect and upon reflection pets exist, they are dependent upon us and we need to look after them properly. In the same vein, I see us people as the ones who are heating the world and destroying the ecological balance and it is our responsibility to keep our pets in a manner that does least damage to the environment.
On a positive note the ‘pet care’ industry knows it needs to change. The sector grew dramatically during the pandemic and ‘the market’ is following the trends. Pet acquisition among younger people, already on the rise pre pandemic, went up sharply during the pandemic making eco-conscious Millennials and GenZ’s count. The market now recognises that we want to reduce our carbon pawprint and that us pet keepers are increasingly aware of greenwashing.
We need to educate ourselves and pressurise the pet care industry for more sustainable foods and products and a more sustainable veterinary sector. That said, there seems to be little information out there to educate us and help us in this crucial endeavour – hence ‘the Green Dog Blog.
Although already pretty eco conscious, writing the articles has had quite a profound effect on the way we do things. I intend to follow up with some short articles about what we have changed and why – so watch this space!