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By now you’ve heard all about how recycling is broken and how our oceans are on track to contain more plastic than fish. Consumer waste is a complex issue with a lot of contributing factors, but increasingly, many folks are wondering what can be done on an individual level to help cut down on our culture’s out-of-control trail of trash.
Enter: Zero waste living, the ever-growing trend you’ve likely heard about online, whispered at organic grocery stores, and hashtag-ed on social media. But what exactly does zero waste living mean? Essentially, it’s a lifestyle that seeks to drastically cut back on consumer products, packaging, and single-use items that are eventually destined for a landfill.
The EPA estimates that the average person generates more than 4 pounds of trash a day; for families and households with pets, the numbers are even greater. Poop bags, food scraps, leashes, and toys—suddenly that carbon footprint you’ve been looking at starts looking a little more like a carbon pawprint…
But never fear! If you’ve been wondering how to reduce and cut back on your consumption habits, we’ve rounded up these zero waste products that are compostable, reusable, recycled, or recyclable to help you, your pet, and your family live as close to a zero waste life as possible.
The Top Zero Waste Products for Dogs, Cats, and Homes with Pets
With over 12,000 reviews on Amazon, Earth Rated’s lavender poop bags are a great place to start when trying to eliminate waste in your pet’s life. (Yes, the irony is not lost on us that the majority of the waste that pet owners produce comes from trying to eliminate our pet’s…err, waste.)
These recycled plastic bags are so durable and trusted, they’re on every floor at Rover HQ (a dog-friendly workplace, natch), so company colleagues and coworkers will never be without a bag when it’s time to take the dog for a walk. Flimsy bags of questionable capacity are no match for these 100 percent leak-free, extra-thick poop picker-uppers. We’ve tried and tested them again and again and again.
- Subtle lavender scent
- 100 percent leakproof
- Extra thick and sturdy
This professional strength stain and odor remover works deep down to get at whatever stain your beloved pet has produced from the core on up. Rocco & Roxie use natural enzyme bacteria that feed on organic matter until they’re completely eliminated, so you don’t have to worry about hazardous or toxic materials coming into your home. To help our earth even more, buy in bulk to avoid multiple plastic spray bottles and just refill that original bottle again and again.
- Chlorine-free for gentle, earth- and pet-friendly cleaning
- Color safe and won’t lighten or stain your carpet
- Backed by a 100% satisfaction warranty
Whether you’re potty-training a puppy or cleaning up after a zealous water drinker—pets are messy. One of the easiest ways to reduce your waste is swapping out paper towels for reusable rags, and these bamboo towels are one of the best zero waste products for homes with pets. They’re machine washable, eco-friendly, and heavy-duty enough to handle, well, your pet’s doody. They come in rolls, one roll replacing, on average, about six months of paper towels. The towels are made from a certified organic bamboo source that is stronger and more absorbent than a normal paper towel.
- Stronger and more durable than paper towels, reusable up to 120 times
- Hand or machine washable, just throw them in with your next load of towels
- Tree, money, and space-saving alternative to regular paper towels
Already making your pet’s food at home? Good for you—you’re significantly cutting down on your waste already. Now up that by using mesh bags to buy and store the fresh foods and dry goods you use to make their meals. These reusable bags have a lifetime warranty and are see-through for easy access to the foods you want. The bags can hold up to 11 pounds of food, and the breathable fabric extends the life of the more perishable items.
- Machine washable
- BPA, lead, and mercury-free
- Good for perishable and refrigerated items as well as pantry supplies, and general storage, too
Buying pet food in bulk exponentially decreases the waste that comes with bag after bag after bag of food. Especially for those with larger animals who eat at lot, that can really add up. Get yourself a container that can easily store multiple quarts of food at a time. This one is airtight, highly rated, and a neutral color to go with any kitchen décor. (For more on the best pet food, check out our guide to grain-free dog food, and the best high fiber dog food.)
As an alternative to plastic dog food storage, you could also consider a zero waste product such as this hefty, stainless steel pet food storage can that comes in a variety of sizes.
- Available in a variety of sizes, up to 5.5 quarts
- Airtight to keep your food fresh as long as possible
- Dishwasher safe and easy to store on countertops or in cabinets
Wet food connoisseurs, this one is for you. Use these lids over canned wet foods or your own jars (extra points for even less waste). This three-pack fits most standard dog and cat food jars and is also BPA free, dishwasher safe, and made of 100 percent FDA certified food grade silicone.
- Safe to contact food directly, can cover both pet and human cans of food
- Useful, reusable alternative to wasteful, single-use plastic wrap
- Covers come in a handy three-pack and are dishwasher safe
Zero waste living doesn’t mean zero style with these cute storage containers. When buying bulk food or treats for your pets, look to this highly rated canister that comes in multiple sizes and color schemes. A bamboo lid keeps the food dry and fresh, and the ceramic canister is dishwasher safe (but make sure to hand-wash the bamboo lid).
- Silicon rim creates an airtight seal to keep food fresh
- Cute paw print design comes in multiple colors to match your home’s decor
- Versatile storage for treats, food, poop bags, and more
Does your pet have fur or hair? That’s what we thought. It can’t be helped or changed, but you can eliminate a substantial amount of waste by throwing the lint roller out, and picking up this easy-to-clean dog and cat hair remover. Use it on your furniture, your clothing, wherever you see pet hair. One happy reviewer calls the 100 percent reusable contraption “life saving,” especially because no power source is needed.
- Completely reusable, eliminates the need for single-use lint roller sheets
- Easy to clean; simply vacuum up or brush off the collected fur
- No power source needed
Puppy training in an apartment? We get it, puppy pads are indispensable—but they don’t have to be disposable.
These washable, reusable pet pads are better than single-use, disposable puppy pads and can withstand multiple wash and dry cycles, so you can protect your stuff and the environment at the same time.
- Larger than most pads to cover maximum areas
- Reusable, durable, and stain resistant
- Machine washable, but not good with fabric softener
We love our pets—but man oh man can they get stinky. Instead of buying that Costco pack of air fresheners, try out these air purifying bags that you can leave in multiple rooms highly trafficked by your pets. 100 percent activated bamboo charcoal makes these bags a more natural air deodorizer than most options you’ll see at the grocery store.
- Chemical-free, fragrance-free, and residue-free
- Lasts up to two years, and are biodegradable when you do eventually throw them away
- Pro Tip: Keep one in the car for after hikes, swims, and dog park outings
This plant-based formula is safe to use around houses filled with kids and animals alike. It’s even guaranteed to clean hard surfaces without streaking. And it’s also available as a concentrate, so if you didn’t want to buy a new spray bottle, you can continue to use the one you already have.
Features of note:
- Good for use on all surfaces
- Natural, non-toxic, hypo-allergenic, vegan & biodegradable
- Certified cruelty-free
This highly-rated, all-natural pet shampoo has been noted by reviewers and publications for its gentle formula that’s great for skin allergies. And while the plastic bottle it comes in doesn’t constitute it as a zero waste product per se, you can combat the waste of the bottle by buying in bulk; Earthbound’s shampoos come in one and two and a half gallon options. Plus, the ingredients are totally natural, biodegradable, and cruelty-free—with multiple soothing scents like lavender, oatmeal, eucalyptus, and peppermint.
- The oatmeal and aloe option works especially well on irritated skin
- Won’t wash off topical flea applications
- pH balanced
If you own a cat, your carbon pawprint is immediately larger than other pet owners because of one dirty, smelly thing: cat litter. Thankfully, there are companies out there who have made it their mission to make the pounds and pounds that we go through as environmentally-friendly as possible.
sWheat is one of them, and their natural wheat litter is free of silica dust, sodium bentonite, or any kind of chemicals, making it more earth-friendly. The litter absorbs moisture faster because of it, so the clean litter stays fresh longer, and less litter box changes are needed. While the actual litter is 100 percent biodegradable, the plastic packaging is not. However, some Petco stores nationwide may paper bag options.
- Litter is made from 100 percent wheat that’s farmed (as opposed to mined) and is much better for the planet
- Eliminates odors, clumps faster and firmer, and requires less scooping
Pet parents could likely spend all their money on (and fill an entire landfill with) toys for their dogs and cats alone. But there’s no need to when you have natural goodies like a zero waste product such as this cat scratcher, made from renewable resources and with reversible pads to last twice as long. One reviewer who purchased it for their cat said that even their bunny loves it!
- Encourages appropriate scratching (i.e. not the furniture)
- Recyclable and environmentally friendly
- Infused with catnip
Whether you’re using diapers for your very young pets or very old—there’s no judgment here. Whatever works for you and your animal. But similar to pet pads, using diaper after diaper can really fill those landfills up, and fast. These reusable diapers made especially for dogs keep your pet clean and dry, and really decrease that carbon pawprint. They even come in multiple cute colors to match your dog’s personality.
Features of note:
- Easily adjustable
- Waterproof outer layer
- Comes with a tail hole for comfort