Plastic Free Pooches and Reducing Waste...
As a family we've been making an effort to reduce our waste and to be a little bit more conscientious about our purchases, particularly when it comes to plastic...This has also made me think about the purchases that we make for the dogs.
Here's our take on things so far:
In general looking at what we consume and reducing our plastic has really made me question purchases...I really look at supermarkets in a completely different light and there are several isles that I can just simply walk past knowing they contain nothing I NEED...this has transferred over to my dog ownership.
As much as we are reducing buying just lots of 'stuff' I'm also probably investing more heavily in the things I feel we need, researching quality products and sometimes spending a bit more on things that I hope will last with an emphasis on natural materials...For some items plastic is probably the thing that is going to provide me with better longevity and reduced waste so it is a real balancing act. An example of this would be the leads that I use...Ole (my larger dog) has a leather lead which I really like, but it weighs quite a bit and would simply be too heavy on Leah (our smaller dog), I may be able to get a decent leather lead that would suit Leah, but as yet I've not seen a weight that I'm happy with. For Leah I've gone for a rubberised lead, we use to use cotton but we really do get out in all weathers and the cotton ones get so heavy when they are wet that I've been converted to a rubberised one...We've had this nearly two years now and it's looking as good as new, It's light-weight but strong and I'm happy with this.
Feeding - so I love a Kong, but there are also so many other similar things K9 Connectables, the infamous B&M snake, lick mats etc...once a little bit of sucker for the latest canine enrichment 'thing' I'm finding that with a little bit of creativity we have similar items at home anyway that can provide a similar level of enrichment. We've got metal food bowls and have used plastic slow feeders but these days I'm finding that even with hungry Ole we don't really need slow feeders...providing a variety of food with different tastes on offer slows him down anyway and I love the way he explores the dinner on offer...over time we're replacing the metal bowls and have more porcelain type bowls that the kids have been painting and decorating for the kids which I love, but we're really not a plastic bowl family.
Water bowls - I'm a massive fan of the Road Refresher and I think we'll always have a couple of these knocking about. They are great to attach to crates, live in the car and prevent puppy water bowl paddling, they can help prevent those messy drinkers dripping all over the floor etc. Metal bowls clean easily, but again I think I'm converting to porcelain...In the summer months porcelain bowls keep the water cooler for longer compared to metal bowls. We've reduced our plastic use so much I fight the kids for plastic bottle to keep water for the dogs in the car v their school project.
Food - this is a tricky one... I've managed to source a dog food manufacturer for some of the dog food I use that uses ethical packaging, but a lot of food (dry dog food) is packaged in non-recyclable bags, the fats that are added to these foods after they are made can easily go off if air is getting into them so I can see the logic in the choice of packaging but it's one on my review list at the moment.
Toys...lets be honest how many dog toys does a dog need? And really really which ones do they play with...for my lot have preferred surfaces and textures (Ole loves a ball...Leah still has the same tuggy toy she had has a pup). The toys that we use for training remain special and get taken away when we are not training...which means they last. They do have other toys (maybe too many of them)...these may get destroyed, decapitated and killed...but usually get re-stuffed, filled back up and sewn up to be killed again. The kids have also got to an age where they donate their previous cuddly toys to the killing pile...reduce, re-use, recycle. Ole's loving the Beco ball on a rope which is a perfect training toy for us (https://www.becopets.com/).
The tricky question of poo...so I've thought about this one a lot...maybe too much and I don't think there is a perfect solution. I've asked about flushing dog poo in the loo, thinking that may be a good plastic free way of disposing of it, but the water needed to treat this means it's not viable and the system isn't designed for this. I've looked at building my own composter in the garden and think I may do this long term, but there is still the issue of how you transport your dog poo from the walk to the composter (like really how many times can you reuse a bag or is their a clever pot thing that will work and what about those slightly less firms ones?)...Dog poo wormeries seem to be fairly difficult to keep running effectively. There are also companies that will collect your dog poo and dispose of it environmentally, in fact they will even do a weekly pick up off your lawn, but when I looked into the petrol and mileage of this it really seemed a little bit of a crazy solution. In the meantime I think using biodegradable bags....having done research into these though one biodegradable bag isn't equal to another...wow what a minefield!