Everyone is aware that we are experiencing a global plastic crisis. And increasingly the public care. Partly because of the incredible documentary series by David Attenborough and also from increasing activist efforts to raise awareness. As this is International Plastic Free July I thought I would join in and make a difference. You can help too.
The problem of plastics may be especially important to animal lovers as we may be more sensitive to animal-suffering. Wild species face injury and death due to plastic pollution. We may be more conscious of the toxic risk household plastics pose to animals' health and want to eliminate it from their lives.
As a lifetime plastic consumer I certainly don't have all the answers, but I can share some of the small solutions I'm using at home. I believe these changes benefit my animals and the wider environment too.
Are you aware that plastics can contain hormone disrupting chemicals such as BPA and phthalates? I've used plastic feeding dishes in the past but for the last few years I've only used stoneware bowls. I've found Mason Cash stoneware to be solid, hard-wearing and have never needed to replace one. This negates the risk of toxins leaching in to my dogs' food or water. When you carry water for your dogs you may choose to use a flask or reusable bottle rather than single-use plastic for the same reason.
Home prepared meals. I reduce plastic consumption by buying fruits and vegetables from the greengrocer. They arrive in brown paper bags in a cardboard crate. I combine them with garden herbs and kitchen spices to make batches of frozen meal rations. This complements the meat portion of their meals. I buy mackerel in bulk which comes in 1kg plastic bags. I'm not content with this packaging but it's the best solution I have found so far.
Commercial meals. I love Lily's Kitchen for providing foods in tin and paper packaging. My cat primarily eats this brand. There are many brands that sell plastic-free canned food but ingredients lists can leave a lot to be desired. Canagan and Barking Heads offer recipes I'm happy to feed my dogs. When I buy bagged food I buy in bulk, which reduces the total amount of packaging. I wish more brands wrapped their food in paper as my Siberian Husky's nutritional requirements narrow the range I can select and it's sad to me when I feel "forced" to buy plastic.
I've started sprouting wheat seeds for our chickens to reduce the use of commercial feeds. When I feed them commercial food I use Dodson & Horrell that comes in paper bags. For grazing animals I purchase bales of hay tied with string rather than bagged in plastic. Using large bales of paper/hemp/wood bedding intended for horses minimizes plastic consumption too. Our guinea pig, fish and sheep foods comes in plastic bags but I'm yet to find an alternative. If you know a brand please recommend it below!
Metal and leather are biodegradable and last several-dog lifetimes if properly cared for. My border collie has a custom-made collar and lead set from Oakside Saddlery which I intend to last forever. Hemp equipment is available but I'm yet to try it out. I use TuffStuff, Perfect Fit, BUMAS and Equafleece brands which all contain artificial fibres. However, they function well and I've found them to be durable. If there was a non-plastic solution I would take it up but I'm relieved that at least these artificial products will last a long time.
Poo bags. I'm using corn-starch biodegradable bags by AlphaPet. I buy them on Amazon
Cat litter tray liners. I'm using 30L cornstarch bin bags by Allgreen which I also buy on Amazon
Cat litter. I'm using Bio-Catolet compostable cat litter. I don't compost with it as that would be gross but it's good to know it fully breaks down.
Brushes. I've had Chris Christensen wooden brushes for years and they're still great condition. Wooden handles and metal pins or combs will last a lifetime if cared for.
Shampoo. My dogs visit Woof & Ready dog groomers so I don't need to wash them at home. If I did I might try a solid shampoo bar made specially for dogs (their skin ph is different than humans and they can be more sensitive). I'm regularly seeing recipes online for diy nose and paw balms which I might try this winter.
Unfortunately I use artificial bedding fibres including polyester fleece and vetbed and to be honest, they don't last that long- maybe a couple of years. Most recently I've purchased a vetbed that contains wool fibres, so I suppose that reduces the percentage content of plastic, but it's not ideal. When I next need to replace items I might try searching for a bamboo, hemp or wool solution. In the past I've purchased from The Fabulous Fleece company and they offer fleeces for pets. If you can recommend a plastic free bedding brand please comment below!
Recently I discovered ECO3 and bought a starter pack that included bathroom, kitchen and window cleaner plus microfibre cloths. My ecologist friend leads me to believe the cloths are not great as microfibre sheds tiny plastic particles into the environment via your drains. However, the products themselves reduce plastic consumption as they are refillable. Also they are totally non toxic and biodegradable.
So if you've read this far you'll have discovered I'm no expert on reducing plastic consumption. However, I hope you find some useful suggestion in the efforts I've made to care for my animals with less plastic. And that you're inspired to make some simple changes for your family.
Please let me know what solutions you've discovered by commenting at the bottom of the page. If you're intrigued to learn more then keep an eye out for my next YouTube video. Until next time,
Love from Lucy x