IS IT NORMAL…?
To be concerned about my pet’s environmental impact?
It’s hardly surprising that pet numbers are on the rise in Britain. After all, who wouldn't want a lovable new addition to the family.
The pandemic has also abolished the lengthy daily commute and inflexible 9-5 working day for many. Plus, after 18+ months of social isolation and an emphasis on getting outdoors for the sake of our physical and mental health, pet ownership has never seemed so attractive.
But alongside the positives, there’s also the environmental impact to consider. Since March 2020, 3.2 million UK households have acquired a pet, bringing the total number of pet-owning homes in Britain to 17 million. That’s a lot of dogs and cats (and rabbits and gerbils and guinea pigs) - and a lot of associated carbon emissions.
What’s the environmental impact of owning a pet?
There’s no getting around it: with conventional pet ownership, the impact is significant. We often use the statistic that owning a medium-sized dog has double the environmental impact of building and running a gas-guzzling SUV.
From producing designer accessories right down to the humble plastic poop bag, our obsession with pets can be carbon costly. But the biggest culprit is undoubtedly what we choose to feed them.
A recent study by the University of Edinburgh revealed that the pet food industry produces the equivalent of up to one sixth of the CO2 emissions of the world’s aviation industry, generating more greenhouse gases each year than Mozambique or the Philippines. Not only that, but an area twice the size of the UK is used to produce dry pet food for cats and dogs each year. So yes - in short, it’s perfectly normal to be concerned about the environmental impact of owning a pet.
The rise of the eco pet owner
The recent rise in pet ownership in the UK has been driven by Millenials and Gen Zers: that is, younger, more environmentally-conscious demographics.
This new breed of pet owners are prepared to take steps towards mitigating their climate impact - for example, they’re significantly more likely to adopt a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian diet themselves, with many citing environmental impact as the reason behind their choice.
And so when they become pet owners, it’s only natural that they want to reduce the carbon pawprint of their animal friends - but how?
Planet-friendly pet ownership
The good news is that there are lots of ways to be a pet owner without it costing the earth - literally. Our top three tips:
1) Adopt, don’t shop. Break the cycle of unethical and unsustainable animal breeding. There are plenty of pets who need loving homes - check out Dogs Trust and the RSCPA rehoming service as a starting point.
2) Go easy on the accessories. Choose sustainable brands and materials - for example, go for a durable stainless steel or ceramic water dish, compostable poop bags and toys made from sustainable materials like bamboo, hemp and wool. It might seem like a token gesture, but over the course of an animal’s life, small choices really do add up.
3) Choose meat-free - or reduce your pet’s meat intake. The biggest single step you can take towards cutting your pet’s environmental impact. omni has been carefully formulated by industry experts including our vet founder, contains the optimal amount of fibre for good gut health and surpasses many of FEDIAF’s (the European regulatory body) minimum requirements, including on protein levels.
While omni is nutritionally complete, it also works well incorporated with meat/fish as part of a flexitarian diet - although we’d suggest going fully plant-based to gain maximum health and environmental benefits, choosing small amounts of sustainably sourced meat in combination with omni is definitely a step in the right direction. You can read more about the planet (and health) benefits of choosing omni for your dog on our FAQ page.