One of the top ways you can care for the long-term health of our animal friends and our planet is by making greener choices in your business and in your home. Our pets are frequently exposed to chemicals and toxins and are constantly producing waste—from litter and food containers to discarded toys. Implementing eco-friendly policies and habits into your veterinary practice and at home can showcase your commitment to a healthier, greener environment.
Going green is not all or nothing; it’s about taking small, manageable steps that will excite you, not overwhelm you. You get to choose the initiatives that work best for your organization and for your lifestyle.
Here are a few easy ways to contribute to a more sustainable future:
1 Rethink pet food and treats.
You probably read the labels on the food and treats you provide to the animals in your care—whether it’s for the patients in your practice or for your pets at home—but it’s important to educate your patients’ owners to do the same. Encourage your clients to purchase higher-quality pet food with humanely-raised and sustainably-sourced proteins. Also look for organic and real ingredients; ditch the preservatives. Create a list of your favorite brands and post it on your website or on your social media pages to encourage your clients to contribute to a greener future through the pet food choices they make.
2 Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Less really can be more, and a few simple changes can make a lasting impact!
Reduce: Look at going paperless. Email clients their invoices, care instructions and other important information rather than printing the documents. Switch to online marketing—social media can be your friend! Implement digital record-keeping that eliminates duplicate copies of files and documents.
Reuse: Use old newspaper for indoor potty pads. (You can utilize pee pads as a back-up underneath, but the layers of newspaper will reduce the amount of plastic-lined pads needed.) Think about how you can reuse other items in the office. For example, old toilet paper rolls make excellent toys for cats (see below).
Recycle/Compost: Implement recycling and composting. Whatever is recycled and composted is that much less waste. Make the switch to compostable pet waste bags and kitty litter bags. Take it one step further and use eco-friendly kitty litter with cleaner ingredients that are better for the pets. Use natural compounds for cat litter such as pelleted, shredded paper or litter made from grains to help maximize the use of recycled materials.
3 Prioritize quality and / or repurpose pet bedding and toys.
More durable toys are less likely to end up in the trash after only a few hours of play, which is good for your wallet and the planet. Rather than purchasing new goods for your patients, look for everyday items that might make great toys. Toilet paper rolls are perfect for cats and socks stuffed with plastic water bottles make fun toys for dogs.
When it comes to bedding for pets, buy beds with natural fill rather than polystyrene foam. Naturally-sourced, sustainable fill inside a sturdily-built bed can include dried beans, chopped hemp or cotton, or other natural fibers.
4 Buy secondhand before purchasing new.
Whether it’s furniture, office supplies or pet supplies, there are tons of secondhand options for sale. Not only will you help the planet, but you will also save money. Facebook Marketplace is a great resource for quality items in like-new condition.
5 Create a green team.
Accountability is paramount when running a greenified business. Designate a group of individuals to oversee your green initiatives. Encourage brainstorming sessions to generate specific ideas on what to implement in your office, and to keep the staff motivated and excited about doing their part to be more eco-friendly.
Ultimately, it comes down to your mindset and determination to make our world a healthier, greener place. No matter which of the above actions you decide to incorporate into your business or your home, know that every little bit helps. Simply take it one step at a time and you will soon be living the green life! +