Last week, we introduced you to our founder Christina’s furry pals, Amelie and Kingston. Seeing the love between Christina and her dogs showed us how authentic and inspiring the human-pet connection can be.

Nearly half the households in the U.S. own either a cat or a dog. Many of us have had pets at some point in our lives. They keep us connected to the world around us, inspiring us to get out to the park or to talk to other pet owners. They also keep us grounded in ourselves, offering companionship and comfort during life’s highs and lows.

So it’s only natural to consider our pets when thinking about our sustainability goals. But finding truly eco-friendly products can be difficult: Many brands use emotional appeals, claiming that they know what’s best for your pet, but aren’t transparent about how their products impact the environment.

What can we do as pet owners and consumers to ensure that we protect the planet, as well as our beloved animals’ best interests?

Here are some of our ideas for sustainable choices that will also keep your pet pals in top form.

1. Buy pet food from brands that use eco-friendly processes.

If you imagine how much food you buy for your pet in one month and then multiply it by their lifespan, you can imagine the amount of packaging waste that gets thrown away and accumulated. To counteract this waste, consider purchasing pet food from brands that use recycled materials. The Honest Kitchen is an example of a great brand dedicated to green packaging and reducing its carbon footprint.

Additionally, you can also find organic pet food to keep your pets healthy. More than half the dogs and cats in the U.S. suffer from obesity problems due to overfeeding and a corn-heavy diet. Castor & Pollux makes healthy dog food with ingredients such as brown rice, organic fruit and free-range chicken.

Henry’s offers a wide variety of natural pet foods, for many kinds of animals beyond cats and dogs, including squirrels and other small mammals. West Paw makes eco-friendly catnip for special treats. If you are so inclined, you can also consider making your own dog and cat treats.

By purchasing from brands that don’t rely on GMOs and chemical-heavy farming processes, we can help the environment and make a difference in our pets’ lives. Many eco-conscious pet food brands use animal by-products, which provide rich nutrients while utilizing every part of the animal, thereby minimizing waste.

Be mindful of how much you are feeding your pets — waste and obesity is a harmful combination for both your pets and the planet. As always, with any dietary change, check with your vet to make sure you’re meeting your pets’ health needs.

2. Look for compostable bags.

Walking your dog can be a wonderful way to exercise and connect to the world around you — and keep your four-legged friend happily engaged. When you’re out and about, toss a compostable waste bag in your back pocket. Earth Rated bags are sturdy and made from biodegradable materials. They also offer non-toxic pet cleaning supplies.

You may also be able flush your dog waste with water-soluble bags, as long as you don’t have a septic system — always check with municipal authorities first regarding your sewage system. Some sustainability advocates have even researched ways to compost your pet waste.

Photo from Wigglywoos

3. Use eco-conscious accessories.

Dog leashes and shoes can produce a lot of unnecessary environmental waste, but many emerging brands are focused on reducing that waste. Wigglywoos uses sustainable cork and hemp to produce beautiful leashes.

For cats, especially those who spend some time outdoors, break-away collars are important. Look for ones made from recycled or sustainable materials, like bamboo and hemp.

And, if your pup likes a sweater or coat in the cold, look for brands that use sustainable materials and processes. We like Ruffwear for durable pet apparel: Their fabrics meet environmental standards and they only use petroleum-free rubber in their dog toys.

4. Choose sustainably made pet toys and beds.

Much like baby toys, pet toys can often be found scattered across a living room, hidden under beds or dotting lawns. These colorful toys can entertain our pets through the sunny afternoons, but they are also a huge source of disposable plastic waste, especially after they have been chewed through and rendered unusable.

West Paw uses only sustainable materials in their pet toys and beds, such as recycled plastic fiber. For pet beds, Harry Barker creates classic and whimsical designs from 100% post-consumer recycled plastics. We like Honest Pet Products for eco-friendly pet toys. Their natural products are handmade in Mongolia and proceeds are donated to local shelters.

Eco Warrior Princess describes a few clever ways to turn household items into pet toys: turning rags into knotted balls and giving them paper bags to play with (and later compost). Just be sure to check for choking hazards before giving your pet a new toy!

5. Use non-toxic pet hygiene products.

In addition to the work of grooming, pet hygiene products can often present hidden environmental hazards. For dog owners, pet shampoos full of dyes and parabens can create excess toxins in the environment when released down drains. Even the ones labeled “organic” are not always the most optimal choice. Companies such as Only Natural Pets and Earthbath offer a variety of grooming options, as well as dental and ear care for your pets.

For cat owners, litter can be a big source of environmental stress. Thankfully, there are tons of great non-clay options available today, like litter made from recycled newspaper and biodegradable elements that are chemical free.

As you peruse all the decisions in front of you, you may find yourself asking why all this matters. Pets have a carbon footprint like the rest of us, and if we aren’t mindful of it, we begin to lose sight of our sustainability goals. Resources are limited so we must find creative ways to exist in the world with our pets.

Take a moment to appreciate everything your pet brings into your life: warmth, love, connection. Then take some time to see how you can work towards consuming more mindfully when it comes to their needs.

Do you have any creative solutions to share? Weigh in on Facebook or Instagram and tell us your thoughts!