I have never been an extremist in being environmentally-friendly but I do have some consciousness of saving energy and reducing waste. I think the environmental consciousness came about because owning pets means using more energy and generating more waste, however little.
The dilemma comes about when I consider the financial costs. Throwing things away in Singapore costs money through service and conservancy charges. Using water is expensive in Singapore. And with the current state our world is in electricity costs a bomb because of oil prices and higher temperatures. Of course the fact that we Singaporeans generate quite a lot of rubbish per capita, and the fact that we are heating up the planet with use of electricity also counts for something on my conscience.
And so I herewith include my thoughts on how to be more environmentally friendly as cat owners.
For starters, clearing the cat litter daily means generating trash or using water, or both. To reduce the impact of your litter trash, choose biodegradable cat litter for starters. This means that when the litter goes out of your house and begins its journey, it is less harmful to the environment. Cat sand is not biodegradable. Recycled paper and pine pellets are. If water cost is an issue, choose to discard the litter (even with flushable types of cat litter) instead of flushing it. Discard the litter together with your other trash so you use less plastic bags.
Another wastage I felt compelled to curb was of water used in washing my cat food and water bowls. Cats, being fastidious, don’t like to use dirty bowls. Their water bowls also tend to get slimy from saliva accumulation. To save water – as well as my hands from detergents – we got our cats their water fountain. It does not use much electricity and I need to wash it less often because the filter insert helps me keep their water clean longer. If you want to save on the electricity, get a socket with a timer, so that you can limit when the fountain turns on and off, instead of leaving it on 24-hours.
As for accessories like toys, I make my own, re-using fabrics from old pillowcases and the like, cardboard boxes and inserts from packaging. Although there are so many cute toys out there I feel tempted to buy, I curb myself from doing so by telling myself that they already have a lot of toys, and I can make my own.
One wastage I haven’t figured out how to curb is in tin cans from my cats’ canned food. The usual folks who pick up aluminium cans to recycle don’t do tin cans. Plus the fact that I use cling wrap to cover the tin after it’s open – not advisable if you are keeping the food for long; sometimes I transfer the food into a tupperware. I have never used so much cling wrap before until the canned food craze started, which is obviously a wastage. To avoid using cling wrap yet save water on washing tupperwares, get something like a Popware lid. The small one should fit regular 170gm cans nicely. We don’t have one but it looks nice and useful; we might get one in the future.
As for dry food, here are some ways to be more environmentally-conscious. Avoid requesting for re-packing of large bags of food – your pet shop will charge you for it, and you waste a lot of plastic. Get containers instead to store opened dry food. This way, you save on packaging. Buying a large quantity of cat food (10 or 15kg sizes) is also more economical. If you buy small quantities, look for cat food that comes in resealable packaging so you don’t have to worry about storing it.