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Pet Parents Are Looking to Reduce the Carbon Pawprint of Their Furry Friends

This is the year of sustainable pet parenting. Companies are making it easy to reduce our animal friends' carbon pawprints in 2022.

Written by
Mia McCallum

As the world has become more aware of environmental issues, many of us have taken steps to live more sustainably. Whether that means adopting a zero-waste lifestyle or making small, sustainable swaps, we're all doing our part to make the world a better place. But we can’t forget about our animal friends.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, animal adoptions have gone through the roof. Throughout the pandemic, about 11.38 million U.S. households have gotten a new pet. However, more pets equal a greater household carbon footprint. That means the pet industry and pet owners are looking for ways to reduce the carbon “pawprint” that comes with owning pets.

According to Mintel’s 2021 “The State of Sustainability in Pet Foods and Treats” report, about 27% of pet food purchasers want to see more "sustainably-sourced" pet foods on the market. And pet parents aren’t the only ones seeking sustainable solutions.

Pet store corporations have also taken steps to implement sustainable practices. In 2021, Petco released its first sustainability report. With that, the company has committed to increasing its assortment of sustainable pet products to at least 50% by the end of 2025

A large portion of your pet's carbon pawprint can be reflected in their diet. Pets like dogs and cats eat large portions of meat, which produce a lot of carbon emissions. That means pet owners are rethinking their pet’s diets—from the contents to the size.

We're seeing an increase in plant-forward diets for our animal friends. While dogs are omnivores and cats are carnivores, both dogs and cats typically eat a predominantly meat-based diet. However, the vegan pet food market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.7% from 2021 to 2028.

And consumers aren't just looking for plant-based foods to feed their pets. Conscious consumers are also thinking about packaging and whether the packaging for pet products is sustainable. In a study conducted by GlobalPets Magazine, about 30% of respondents said they're willing to spend more on sustainable packaging for pet foods. And 33.2% said they probably would.

So far, we're seeing a slow but steady increase in eco-friendly pet foods and sustainable pet product packaging. Chippin's dog foods and treats contain planet-friendly proteins. They also come in Certified Plastic Neutral, eco-friendly packaging made from post-consumer recycled materials. Stella & Chewy's is also going green by transitioning to recyclable packaging and helping consumers find the closest recycling facilities to them.

We're anticipating an increase in sustainable pet foods and sustainable pet product packaging in the future. This may include refillable pet food containers, like this one that's being piloted by Nestlé.

Aside from food and packaging, sustainable pet parenting has taken other forms such as buying toys, accessories, and supplies. There are now many sustainable toy and accessory options on the market, including eco-friendly rubber dog toys made with natural and recycled materials.

Plus, more pet parents are learning how to correctly dispose of their pet's waste, whether that's dog poop or cat litter. Companies have made that easy by starting to produce eco-friendly doggie bags and kitty litter. And when it comes to grooming, you can even ditch the plastic shampoo bottle and purchase pet shampoo bars.

With the recent increase in pet ownership and sustainability awareness, sustainable pet parenting seems to be making an impression amongst pet owners and the pet industry. And it's not going anywhere anytime soon.