There's a lot of great information in this post and I encourage you to read through it ... however, if you don't have the time right now, you might find the following quick-click links helpful:
Last week our challenge, suggested by Jennifer, asked us to "green" up our pets. It was a wonderful activity because we often forget about the environmental impact of pets ... their food, waste disposal, toys and even how they affect wildlife. We also continued the discussion about Eco-friendly light bulbs. We heard opinions about the various options available, learned how people actually using the bulbs like them, and read references on such topics as safety, disposal and cost. It was another week filled with information to help us make the best choices possible.
The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing a post about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments. Let's see what they had to say this week:
EcoGrrl stopped feeding her dog commercial treats because of the packaging (which isn't earth friendly) and because they aren't healthy for animals. So what does her dog get as a treat ... veggies. Yep, EcoGrrl says that her dog goes nuts over carrots and zucchini. She also shared additional information on CFLs which you can read HERE. Be sure to check it out ... she includes a link about CFL myths and shares the best way to clean up if a bulb should break.
Argentum Vulgaris gives us more "food for CFL thought" in this POST. He raises an interesting point about the actual heat generated by various bulbs and their link to our heating expense. In this POST he talks a little more about CFLs and includes an experiment comparing the waves (Ultra-violet and infra-red) generated by CFL versus incandescent bulbs. AV also offers us some Eco-friendly pet ideas ... including a natural way to rid them of fleas.
Alicia has a great tip for Eco-friendly bedding and toys for pets. She finds wool sweaters at Goodwill and uses them for her cat's bedding ... I can just imagine them curled up in their cozy little beds when the weather is cool. She also uses wool to make toys for them ... they are a smaller version of the wool dryer balls which she makes. Maybe we can convince her to share instructions with us ... what do you think, Alicia? By the way ... I've mentioned before that Alicia makes and sells Eco-friendly soaps, lip balms, lotions, etc. Well, she has recently unveiled a new online store and, to celebrate, she's hosting a giveaway of her products. So ... if you've wanted to try them as much as I have, head on over and enter to win. Just click HERE. Of course, one doesn't have to depend on "chance" to try her products ... just click HERE to make a purchase (she's offering free shipping).
Michele (aka The Vegetarian Who Hates Tofu) has only had her dog for 2 weeks. To begin, she's using Greenbone Doobags ... both the dispenser and the bags are biodegradable. Once her dog is a little more settled, she plans to switch her food to an organic variety ... better for her health and better for the environment. Nice!
@pinkladyapril shared some wonderful tips via twitter. Here's what she had to say: "I have 2 much loved cats who are kept in at night to prevent them attacking wildlife & I don't encourage birds in the garden as I don't want the cats to go for them & I don't think it's fair to encourage birds when you have cats. They eat dry food which is healthier & more environmentally friendly than canned meat as it comes in larger packs & is easier to portion control. They have a water fountain which stops their water getting stale & use a litter tray. I only have a small garden & no lawn so don't get much wildlife & won't encourage anything the cats would chase/hunt. Having said that my cats are so lazy the only "present" they occasionally bring me is the odd worm!! Lol!"
Jennifer realizes that owning a cat is, by virtue of it's carnivorous diet, a higher impact choice. She also notes that it's hard to buy truly local natural food for her cat. Even though handling and cooking raw meat isn't something Jennifer wants to do, she is going to talk to the meat sellers at her farmer's market to see if she can make her cat's diet more local. I hope you'll report back, Jennifer, and let us know how that goes. She uses pine/corn litter which is renewable and biodegradable and she folds litter bags out of old newspapers. Her cat is spayed and kept indoors so she's not contributing to native bird population losses or cat overpopulation. Thanks, again, Jennifer for suggesting this challenge ... it's been a good one!!
Nicole B. had several comments on CFLs including a wonderful suggestion for those who use Christmas lights. Read all of her comments HERE. She says that she needs help on the pet challenge and is anxious to read everyone thoughts. That said, she thinks that she can "green" her pet by changing it's food. Let us know how it goes, Nicole!
@gwened02 doesn't have a pet but she weighed in via twitter on how she protects wildlife: "I don't have any pets. We're still collecting elastic bands off the street to protect the birds & the hedgehogs."
Amy has two cats and both are neutered. In this way she lessens their impact by not having litters of babies that will need homes or may suffer. That would break my heart, too, Amy!
Tiffany doesn't have a pet but offers a resource for dog owners to buy biodegradable waste bags ... Annie's Blue Ribbon Store. If you're in Brooklyn, check them out ... if you're not in the area, they ship.
Josefin used twitter to share this great idea: "To protect wildlife you can avoid buying overfished species or buy MSC certified MSC.org."
EnviroFusion suggests Yesterday's News cat litter. She shares that it's a better choice for your feline family member. Since it's made from recycled paper, it's earth-friendly too!
Cinella says that some pet owners are "immortalizing their dog's poo". She also shares that adopting a pet is a good, earth-friendly choice. You can read her post HERE.
Katie doesn't have pets but some of her co-workers have cats so she plans to talk to them about how they make their pets "green". In this POST she shares some great tips for those who have fish. Yep, even fish can be "greened". Thanks, Katie!
Gaby has read about pet waste solutions where the waste is put in a container into the ground ... basically a septic system. She suggests, however, that it may pose a problem by contaminating groundwater. As I understand it, Gaby ... it very well may contaminate the ground and nearby water systems. With human waste septic systems, enzymes are added to the tank to kill bacteria. Dog waste, however, carries bacteria which the enzymes can't kill and which contaminate the surrounding area, including aquifers. This is also the reason why it's not a good idea to leave animal waste sitting on the lawn or in the garden.
In this POST Kris talks about her pet's worst environmental impact. Here's a hint ... it involves her food but isn't her food. Think you have the answer? Click on over to find out.
Using twitter Joanne shared the following: "All our pet care products are natural & eco friendly. We use a trusted source in Regina: Metro Pet Market > they care about your pets. Metro Pet Market's website is a gr8 resource 4 info on natural organic & eco friendly food & care products 4 pets bit.ly/erVMea. Help your pets cope with environmental toxins, which can cause cancer. Natural pet friendly antioxidants & cold water fish oils R GR8."
Amy wrote this POST and shares quite a few good tips and ideas. One of her suggestions is to buy products that last.
Brenna hopes to have chickens in her backyard and will use the many resources in her area to make them Eco-friendly. I hope you'll report back, Brenna, with that adventure. Awhile back she wrote this ARTICLE about our responsibility to animals. It's a brilliant, thought-provoking piece. Check it out and let us know what your thoughts are on whether or not we have a responsibility to animals and if so, what they are. Thanks, Brenna!
Mrs. Green has a pet named "Sunrise". It's not a dog ... it's not a cat ... it's a ... ahhh, you'll just have to click HERE to find out. Be sure to watch the video where you'll see Sunrise dance ... and read the commentary to find out how Mrs. Green obtains food for her pet (might surprise you). Regarding CFLs, Mrs. G was set, quite strongly, against them. After reading all the comments last week, she had this to say: "My take is that it's the cumulative sum of mercury that is a problem. Ok, so a bulb contains less mercury than an amalgam filling, but how many bulbs do we have in our homes? Not just one unless we live very low impact. Then, in 10 years time when the bulbs expire most of them might be dumped in landfill (because let's face it, not all folk recycle well) where, well, who knows what happens after that? Just as we celebrate making small positive changes because they add up to make significant differences, 'small' and seemingly insignificant 'negative' choices can add up to devastating impact too..."
Can a post entitled "Keep Your Tomatoes Regular with Oatmeal!" meet this week's challenge? Well it can if it's written by Rewinn. Check it out HERE and learn what he's going to try to make his cat more environmentally responsible.
Melanie used twitter to share this: "Thought of something for the challenge-when washing your dog, find way to save the water. Not much, but what came to mind."
Most of us search out dogs and cats as pets. But not Ellie. She has pet frogs ... two of them. So how is she going to green their routine? She says, "... they eat live crickets. I've been thinking a lot lately about how wasteful it is buying a tiny plastic container of crickets every week for them. I'm working on my blog post now (thanks for the inspiration) for what I am doing to try and make the frogs a little greener. I am making a "cricket house" from an old fish tank. That way I can buy one large bag of crickets and keep them alive for several weeks. This means I won't have to use multiple containers and I won't have to drive to the pet store every week." Wow! Can't wait to hear all about it, Ellie!!
Rachel quickly identified the main area where her pet's impact could be reduced ... it's food. She was buying cat food in pouches ... one meal per pouch and they can't be recycled (did you hear that collective "ooooooh"). She decided to switch to aluminum cans which contain 3-4 meals each ... containers which can be recycled. She braced herself for fly-infested, half-eaten cat food but was pleasantly surprised when her cats had no objections to the new diet (listen to the collective Yaaaaayyyyy and the audience cheering). You might remember that for our light bulb challenge, Rachel had a "blow out" prompting her husband to order LEDs as replacements. I was curious how she would like the new bulbs. Here's her review: "The LED lights have arrived now and they're horrible. Because the light's so directional the room feels a lot darker, even when the lit areas (work surfaces) are plenty light enough. They were advertised as 'warm' light but they're not at all. The information about light bulbs here and on AV's blog has been really interesting (AV - my attempts at a conversation on your blog failed because my longer comments just disappeared into the ether), and has prompted me to do a lot of research. I'll get round to writing a blog post on it when I'm less busy, but the conclusion is, I'm happy sticking with my CFLs." Rachel did free up some time and wrote this ARTICLE. It's really an interesting piece. In it she identifies the only good reason NOT to use CFLs. Does that mean she's giving them up? You'll find out at "her place".
Ann has fleas (no they aren't her pets ... LOL). She's looking for natural flea prevention/elimination and investigates one idea HERE. It wasn't effective so she's asking for advice on herbs and/or plants which will rid her home of these nasty little bugs ... she'd prefer not to use commercial bombs or sprays. Any advice for her? I hope you find something that works, Ann!
Stephanie wrote this POST which includes 10 tips for reducing the carbon pawprints of our pets. One of her suggestions seemed so obvious when I read it but ... I'm guessing that it's something most of us don't do. Curious? Check out tip number 2 of her article.
Wow ... weren't those comments, posts and discussions great?
The #CTWW Gang are those folks who share our challenges on twitter using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I highly recommend following them ... they have a lot of great things to say. Let's meet them:
My final thoughts: Pets are big business ... one can purchase pet insurance, clothing, toys and even find pet hotels, spas and bakeries. Our love for a pet is often exploited by companies trying to convince us that we must buy their product to be good, responsible owners. Often those products are made of plastic, come in wasteful containers and aren't healthy for animals. And even more often those products are harmful to the environment. With a little effort and thought, our pets can be just an "green" as we are ... and that makes us true responsible pet owners.
Great job, everyone! If you wrote an article, I have Stumbled, Tweeted and Facebooked it. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share feature at the bottom of this post.
This Week's Challenge:
This week's challenge comes from Mrs. Green who says "I think maybe with Christmas/Yule coming up we might start thinking about how we can buy gifts that comply with the other person's values, yet don't have too much of an impact; this is something I struggle with for friends who are NOT on my green wavelength." I decided to do Mrs. Green's challenge now because, as we've learned from several of our challenges, planning is often a key component to successful "green" living. Here you go:
This week, please share ideas on Eco-friendly gift giving. We're looking for anything which helps us choose "green" gifts that will please the receiver. Feel free to offer links, do-it-yourself projects, etc. ... the more creative the better.
So what do you think ... are you up for this challenge?
Until next time ...
WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!