Your Pet's Carbon Pawprint

Slate.com's "Green Lantern" is back again with some insight into the problem of raising an environmentally friendly pet. He focuses specifically on the problem of the animal's waste. 


The Green Lantern says that while we're all trained to clean-up our pet's waste on the sidewalk or in public areas, it is just as important to clean it up in our own yards. Why? Because your pet's waste contains harmful bacteria that can end up in rivers and streams when it rains. The waste also contains high levels of nutrients, which in excess can suffocate local water bodies with non-native plants and can create bacterial blooms. 

According to the Green Lantern, the best ways to dispose of your pet's waste include dumping it into the toilet where it will be properly treated by your municipal water treatment facility, burying it 12 inches deep in the yard away from vegetable gardens or composting it by following THESE instructions. Always try to reuse grocery bags to pick up your pet's waste, or even better, use biodegradable bags. 


Cat waste is more complicated than dog waste (go figure). Some household cat's contract an undetectable parasite called Toxoplasma Gondii and can shed the parasite's oocysts in their waste. This oocyst is toxic to both humans and wildlife. Even sewage treatment plants are ineffective in killing the oocyst. If your cat spends time outdoors, keep an eye out for their waste and pick it up to protect your neighboring humans and animals. 

The best way to manage the cat's waste, whether it is outside or inside, is to use kitty litter; just make sure you pick the right kind. Stay away from litter that is made from bentonite clay or fuller's earth. These products are extracted from the ground by stripping away the earth's surface, destroying plants, animals and habitats in the process. Instead, look for litter made of recycled newspaper, wheat, corn cobs or reclaimed sawdust. These litters can be composted and used in the garden. If you use litter box liners, choose biodegradable ones. 

To read the full Green Lanter column on your pet's carbon pawprint, click HERE

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