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Working Towards Zero Waste with Pets

By Larraine Roulston:

People don’t often realize that having an animal creates its own share of waste. There are, however, many ways pet owners can minimize the amount of discard.

Any plastic bag packaging for dog/cat food probably will not get recycled. To decrease the amount of ready mixed pet food, make a broth, add leftover foods that include rice, pasta, veggies and meat; then bring it to a boil for your pet to enjoy. To help keep those canine teeth clean, offer raw  carrot sticks and broccoli. With a little effort from humans, dogs can live healthy vegetarian lives.

This pumpkin ball biscuit, taken from the following link, contains fiber, vitamin A, beta-carotene, iron and potassium.


  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 4 Tbsp molasses
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix pumpkin, molasses, vegetable oil and water in a bowl.
  3. Add the whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon to the mixture, and stir until the dough softens.
  4. Scoop out small spoonfuls of dough, then roll into balls in your hands (wet hands work best).
  5. Set the balls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and flatten with a fork.
  6. Bake approximately 25 minutes until dough is hardened.

Dog waste needs to go somewhere. You can flush just the poop (NOT the bag) down the toilet for sewage treatment. For those with a yard, check out EnsoPet kit or a Pet Poo Wormery, that can transform your pet’s poop into compost.

For long haired pets, use a brush made of bamboo or metal, or locate an old brush no longer in use. Add the fur to your composter or green bin. Dog fur in or around a composter will deter other animals. 

Choose metal drinking and eating bowls over plastic. With luck, you’ll find something suitable at a secondhand store where you might also see a selection of leashes and collars.

Pets love their own special toys. Purchase sturdy, long lasting unpackaged ones. Retailers HempTopiaPurrfectplay or Honest Pet Products offer toys made from natural hemp; and with every purchase, these companies make a donation to no-kill animal shelters. Find an old tennis ball, thick rope or tie knots in a worn piece of denim. Pet rats, hamsters, guinea pigs and bunnies all like bridges and stairs. For extra simulation, these little creatures can enjoy the experience of learning tricks and finding treats. Fallen bird feathers can be composted.

Dog/cat beddings can be made by stuffing a worn sweater (remove buttons and zippers) and twisting the sleeves to create an oval shape. Sturdy boxes make suitable beds. Shredded paper and wood chip bedding can be composted along with the droppings of all small veggie-eating animals. Line a cage with old towels and rags that can be washed. Periodically sprinkle baking soda to keep cages and blankets smelling fresh.

Under a deep covering of damp shredded newsprint in a vermicomposter  dwell the industrious little red wiggler worms — the ultimate champions of Zero Waste! Not only do they devour your organic food scraps along with their bedding, but also they create great castings (worm poo) for your plants. And as classroom pets, they serve as a biology lesson.

Related Links:


Larraine writes children’s illustrated adventure stories on composting and pollinating. To view, visit: www.castlecompost.com

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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