Here are a few good ways to make living with a cat “greener” (that is, more “environmentally friendly”) by exercising some discretion in how you shop.
Buy earth-friendly cat products. Such products are made from recycled or recyclable materials, minimally packaged, and sustainably harvested and produced. Buying “green” pet products, supports their manufacturers with your pocketbook, and motivates them and others to move in a more sustainable direction.
Use earth- and pet-friendly household products. Pet-safe substitutes for detergent, furniture polish, glass cleaner, scouring powder, and even insecticides can be made from lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda, and other items you may already have in your home.
Buy from green businesses. Selling earth-friendly products is not necessarily proof of green business practices like recycling and choosing wind-power or other carbon footprint offsets. Make sure that the companies you buy from “walk the walk.” Only Natural Pet in Boulder, CO, is a great example!
Look out for toxins in paint, furniture, and flooring. It’s true that indoor air can be as polluted—or more so—than the air outside. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently reported that industrial chemicals can accumulate in our pets at dangerously high levels. The most common chemicals detected were stain- and grease-repellent coatings, and flame retardants used in furniture, bedding, clothing, and flooring. Flame retardants in particular have been linked to feline hyperthyroidism—a disease never seen before the 1970s, but now occurring at epidemic proportions. Green alternatives are available; and though they may cost a bit more initially, the savings in health costs for your pets and family members more than make up for it.
Don’t use air fresheners or synthetic plug-ins. These “chemical soups” can do great harm while they mask other odors. They typically contain toxins (like pthalates and formaldehyde) that are linked to asthma and other respiratory problems. Also use caution with scented candles and incense. What smells good to us may not be as attractive to your cat, so always provide an “escape route” to an area with “unmodified” air.
Adopt from a shelter or rescue. While there are a few “good” breeders out there, most pets available in stores, online, or in newspapers come from irresponsible backyard breeders or puppy or kitten “mills” which keep a stable of animals used as production machines. Millions of friendly, healthy pets, including a large percentage of kittens, puppies, and purebreds, are euthanized every year in shelters for lack of homes. Please support “recycled” pets as well as products.