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5 Climate Developments That’ll Make Being an Eco-Friendly Pet Parent a Little Easier

From the next generation of upcycled treats to an actually helpful carbon counting app.

by Emma Loewe
January 17, 2023
A well dressed man walking two dogs outside in a park.
BONNINSTUDIO / Stocksy

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

Thinking about climate change probably sends you into an emotional ride that toggles between fear and disempowerment (just speaking from experience). When this seesaw from hell happens, it’s helpful to try to remind yourself that though the problem is huge, its solutions are equally massive — and they deserve your attention, too.

Celebrating progress is one way to stay engaged, find motivation, and remind ourselves of the exciting future we’re working toward. It’s one that’s sure to be a whole lot better for the planet, its people, and yes, their pets. Here are a few recent climate developments that will be a real treat for eco-minded pet parents.

1. Your pet’s food packaging is about to get safer.

PFAS, short for the tongue-twisting per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, is a type of industrial coating that repels water and oil. It’s used on many, many products, including pet products and food packaging. After years of research proving that “forever chemicals” linger in the environment and could contribute to liver damage, decreased fertility, and cancer, manufacturing giant 3M has vowed to stop using it as soon as 2025. It’s a decision that will likely push others in the industry to do the same; good news for your pet’s food bags. Now if we could only make them universally recyclable.

2. An upcoming app will make it easier to meaningfully tackle your personal emissions.

The app, called Zerofy, estimates your carbon emissions in some pretty smart ways. It can connect to your smart-home devices to track energy use, monitor your movements when you’re in a car or walking, and synch up with your credit card to tally the carbon footprint of your purchases. From there, it recommends personalized strategies for reducing your footprint, such as walking to the vet instead of driving or buying fresh food for every member of your household.

As Fast Company reports, while other carbon-counting apps exist, most of them just point you toward offsets (investments that can take carbon out of the environment), instead of helping you take control over your own footprint and pawprint. The app is now available in Europe and will be rolling out in the U.S. this spring

3. A new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruling seeks to make your daily walk a bit more pleasant.

The EPA isn’t exactly known for fast action, but it’s recently proposed tougher regulation on PM 2.5 — teeny tiny air pollutants emitted from cars, buses, and power plants that contribute to respiratory irritation and asthma. The existing limit on PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air, but it has not been updated in over a decade.

Now, the agency is calling to reduce them to levels as low as 8 micrograms per cubic meter (and enlisting public comments, so if cleaner air is something that sounds good to you, voice your support here). Clean air groups are saying this threshold is not low enough, but it’s still progress — and progress that could save over 4,200 premature deaths per year. 

4. Upcycled pet food is trending up.

As opposed to recycling, which turns waste materials into roughly what they were originally, upcycling turns them into something that’s even more valuable and useful. Upcycling is a sustainable concept that’s quickly gaining traction in the pet food space as companies cook up treats out of fruits, vegetables, and animal meat cuts that would have otherwise been tossed.

Research shows that there is a growing market for these products, and Impawfect and Shameless Pets are two brands leading the way. Other pet food companies that now tout the UPcycled label include Leashless Lab, Phelps Pet Products, Chippin, and Disney Table Scraps. Researchers at Auburn University are also busy looking into how to incorporate more meat co-products into pet treats. Watch this space!

5. Drop your phone while playing fetch? A new law will make it easier to repair in New York.

The next time you shatter your phone at the dog park or max it out by using your camera roll as a repository for every cute thing your cat has ever done, a first-of-its-kind law will make it easier to repair in New York state. The Digital Fair Repair Act mandates that digital electronic manufacturers will have to share parts and information that help consumers fix their own products this year or take them somewhere to be fixed.

It sounds like something they should already be doing, right? But as it stands now, they really incentivize you to just trade it in and upgrade to something new and shiny — fueling unnecessary purchases and leading to a whole lot of electronic waste. This law encourages companies to take ownership over a product’s entire lifecycle, not just the point of sale. Hopefully, other states (and industries) won’t be far behind.

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emma loewe

Emma Loewe

Emma is a writer, editor, and environmentalist based in New York City. She is the senior sustainability editor at mindbodygreen, the author of Return To Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us (April 2022), and the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self-Care. While she doesn’t have any pets of her own, she is a loving dog aunt to Pip the pup.