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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Ideas for making your dog-related waste (like dog food bags) more eco-friendly. By Leslie May of

A big part of being green is reducing, reusing, and recycling! Practiced in this order, the 3-R's process can help you significantly reduce the amount of waste and energy produced and impacted on our environment.
Reducing means reducing waste before you purchase it, or purchasing products that are not wasteful in their packaging or use. Reusing means just that: reusing materials in their original or modified form instead of throwing them away, or passing those materials on to others who could use them too. One man's trash is another man's treasure! And recycling is the art of separating, collecting, processing, and ultimately re-using or re-manufacturing a material that would have been thrown away, and making it into a new product.
Environmentally aware and green consumers help the environment by practicing the 3-R's system and therefore produce less waste. They are buying products that are less toxic to the environment, are made of recycled materials, and contain less packaging. They are re-using purchased items for lots of other purposes. They are maintaining and repairing products instead of adding them to landfills. And, they are participating in recycling programs all over the country.
So how do our dogs play into the reduce, reuse, recycle 3-R's process? Lots of ways:
When you're out purchasing products for your pups, take into consideration the amount of packaging associated with that product when selecting which green product you want/need to buy. Many green dog product companies are shifting to less packaging. You can help the process by supporting them if the product meets with your green dog standards.
When your pup de-stuffs one of his favorite plush toys, you can save the stuffing to use in a new toy that you can make with old clothing or towels. Oh, and be sure and get that squeaker before it's destroyed so you can use it in the new homemade toy, too!
Is it time for a new collar or leash? Donate the old one to a local rescue or shelter. You can also donate some of your newspapers, old towels, baby gates, and other unused items to your local shelter or rescue. They always need help.
Got some old towels and washcloths lying around? Use them for door mats to soak up the dirt your pup may drag in from outside. Or, rip them in strips and braid them for a super cool dog tug toy.
Take your reusable bags every time you go shopping for your dog! And help save those landfills from the dreaded plastic.
These are just a few suggestions of how you can reduce and reuse items for your dog. There are of course thousands of ideas, and they are only limited by your creativity! Just think before you buy and think before you toss!
What about recycling? Many of the products and packaging associated with a product are potentially recyclable. has a great website to help you learn all about recycling, what you can and can't recycle, all about the recycling codes and numbers, where there are recycling and curbside pick up in your community, and more. So before you toss it, check and see if you can recycle it!
Now, what about those prolific pet food cans and bags? That's the biggest question we get about the 3-R's relating to dogs. And it's one of the ways us dogs have the most impact on the amount of waste that goes into landfills, besides our doo.
So what do you do with the food bags and cans? Here's what we do!

Most dog food bags are made with multiple layers designed to keep the dog food fresh. These layers are both paper and plastic. Sadly, the plastic layers of these bags are most usually not recyclable. So what can you do? Pull apart and separate the layers of the bags, and recycle the paper layers. You can then reuse the plastic layers after cleaning for quite a few things, like packing items for water tightness, or using them as floor savers when painting.
You can also reuse complete dog food bags for a few things. Turn them inside out and use them for shipping items. Or you can use them as containers or barriers for certain messy items, like used paint stirrers, or to put under your car when changing the oil. You can even use them as knee savers for your Mum when she's out in the garden digging away. And if you just have to throw something out, they make a super trash bag.

Also, we heard recently that Petco and Terracycle are testing a pet-food-bag recycling program in New York and New Jersey with a possible roll out by year's end. So that may be an option for you.
Most pet food cans are made out of aluminum, although some may be made of steel. You can tell which by putting a magnet to the can; it will stick to steel, but not aluminum. And many times it will say on the label. Both aluminum and steel are recyclable materials, so make sure you rinse them out, and we recommend taking off the label before adding to your recycling bin.
One more thought: by adding in or feeding raw and home cooked healthy foods to your dog, you can really reduce the amount of dog food bags and cans you bring into your household. Just make sure you do your research on raw and home cooked meals (see our post - Let's Talk Food! at )
Happy reducing, reusing, and recycling!

With nearly 77 million dogs in households throughout the U.S., you can bet our pups are leaving their paws prints on the environment. And as our dogs live in an ever increasingly contaminated environment, we can keep them as safe as can be to live the healthiest, happiest, and longest life possible and help the environment at the same time. Through, Johann (the dog) and Leslie share tips, tricks, products, and other information about how you can help your dog go green!

A version of this article first appeared at and was reprinted with permission.


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