How to reduce your pet's carbon pawprint
Q: I try to live a "green" lifestyle, and I'm wondering if there are any pet-related ways I can reduce my carbon footprint.
A: There are several ways you can lighten your pets' impact on the environment.
* Look for toys made from materials that are biodegradable, recycled or sustainable. Read the label to see if there's a toll-free number you can use to call the manufacturer and make sure the item doesn't contain any toxic dyes or finishing agents.
* Ask where toys are manufactured. Products made in the U.S. don't have to be shipped as far, so they have a smaller carbon footprint. Some foreign-made toys may contain high levels of unhealthy heavy metals.
* See if your cat is willing to use litter made from plant-based materials, such as corncobs, wheat or recycled newspapers. These litters may be flushable or biodegradable. Another option is silica-gel "pearls," which can be used for longer periods before you need to change them.
* Scoop poop and throw it away in a trash can so that waste runoff doesn't drain to the ocean or other water sources. Use biodegradable or compostable poop bags.
* Avoid using herbicides and insecticides on your lawn. Exposure to these chemicals has been linked to significantly higher risk of bladder cancer in dogs.
* Use stainless steel food and water bowls, which are fully recyclable.