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Win Squeaky-Green Prizes
When you share your dog-centered, eco-smart ideas.
Follow your dog's example: Travel light on the big blue marble.

Dogs are naturally green. They rarely drive. They are happy to gobble up whatever is left on our plates and just as eager to chomp on a branch as a pricey plastic bone. Unfortunately, they aren’t in charge of most households. They rely on a biped with a wallet and a driver’s license to make smart choices about what’s good for them and good for the planet.

To mark Earth Day we are sharing our dog-centered, eco-smart strategies and we want to hear yours. Post your green tip below, and you’ll be automatically entered to win one of these squeaky-green prizes: Chronicle Books’  EcoDog: Healthy Living for Your Pet, Earthdog’s Hemp Collars and Leads, Itzadog’s Ecollargy Collar and Leads, Canine Earth’s Bath Products, Wagatha’s Extraordinary Biscuits for Dogs, Woof Wear Organics’ Dog Toys, and West Paw Design’s Eco Slumber Bed (the grand prize). [Contest is now closed to new entries - see winners] Learn more about these green products on our Editor’s Picks.


From buying a Prius for transporting your dogs to agility competitions to making no-waste, crunchy treats in an ice tray—no idea is too big or too small. We’ll get the ball rolling with our own ideas.

Walk more. Rather than driving to your errands and then walking the dog, bring her along to the post office, bank, cleaners and the market. Your dog gets exercise and socialization; the car stays parked.

Invest in your neighbors. Small businesses and individual craftspeople are making high-quality toys, gear, food and treats. Buying local cuts down on packaging and fuel for shipping.

Think long term. Durability may seem old-fashioned but it’s the leading edge of sustainable shopping. Channel the spirit of your frugal Yankee aunt, and buy gear built to last, such as stainless steel dog bowls and leather leads with brass rather than plastic fittings.

Judge the book by the cover. A dog toy encased in molded plastic that requires tools and time to open, isn’t just frustrating and time-consuming, it’s also wasteful. Opt for a product with little or no packaging and register your disappointment with the manufacturer of the item you passed by. Maybe they’ll be motivated to change.

Read the labels. The recall of melamine-contaminated pet food in 2007 was a wake up call for lots of people. We’re reading labels and steering clear of chemicals in our dogs’ food, beds and toys, which means fewer chemicals will end up in our soil and water. (Learn more about eco-friendly home products.)

Adopt a second-hand dog. Bringing home a dog from a shelter or rescue is recycling at its finest.


[Contest officially closed]

Grand prize winner of the West Paw Design Eco Slumber Bed: Cynthia of Lakewood, CA
Runner up winner of the Canine Earth Bath Products plus a copy of Chronicle Book's EcoDog: Stef of Blasdell, NY
Runner up winner of the Woof Wear Organic Dog Toys plus a copy of Chronicle Book's EcoDog: Sarah of Superior, WI
Runner up winner of the Wagatha's Biscuits plus a copy of Chronicle Book's EcoDog: Dana of Las Vegas, NV
Runner up winner of the Itzadog Collar and Leash plus a copy of Chronicle Book's EcoDog: Christine of Junction City, KS
Runner up winner of the EarthDog Collar and Leash plus a copy of Chronicle Book's EcoDog: Pamela of St. Augustine, FL

Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom. lisawogan.com

iStockphoto. See more cloud maps at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by SaraG | April 21 2009 |

Ever heard of Freecycle Network at Freecycle.org? It's a place to give stuff away and to find free stuff. It can be a great way to save cash on dog stuff, for example, I needed a baby gate for a puppy and got one on Freecycle. As soon as my puppy outgrows it, I'll offer it up for free to the next person.

Submitted by Eddie | April 21 2009 |

I save my dogs' fur when I groom them and someday I'm going to have it spun into yarn so I can knit it into a sweater. How's that for eco-friendly?

Submitted by Whitney | April 30 2009 |

The "spining my dog's hair into yarn idea is a really good one! I'll have to try to get the family to agree to that!

Submitted by Margaret A. | April 21 2009 |

Martha my dog, loves eating her vegetarian dog food. Meat production is so bad for the environment and in her own little way even Martha is making a difference!

Submitted by JoAnna | April 21 2009 |

I use the plastic bags that newspapers are delivered in as poop bags. They're a perfect size and the length makes it easy to tie a knot at the top. If you don't receive newspapers, ask around. Friends and family without dogs have been more than happy to collect them for me, giving me an endless supply of free poop bags that would otherwise be thrown out :)

I stick them everywhere (pockets, bags, crate pockets, etc...) and sometimes tie one on my leash. But I also put them in Dog Gone Good's Recycled Bag Holder, hung by the door and in the car:


It makes it very handy to grab a poop bag on your way out!


Submitted by Anne | April 22 2009 |

I use newspaper bags as poop bags; walk to places that are dog friendly (like our vet and dog groomer) and allow my dog inside (like our local video store); walk to local trails instead of getting in the car and driving to more remote ones; and buy big bags of dog food (less packaging).

Submitted by Carolyn with Ma... | April 22 2009 |

I've ditched the plastic food bowls which can off-gas and be hard to keep clean due to minute scratches in the plastic. We use second hand pyrex bowls for food and water. They are heavy enough and non-toxic and nearly unbreakable. I wash them daily with hot water real soap (not detergent) and/or white vinegar and baking soda to clean them in an eco-safe way.

Submitted by Carrie | April 22 2009 |

I also have come accustom to using the plastic from the newspaper to pick up poop on walks. Also, because it is said neither plastic or paper bags at the grocer is really better for the environment, I also use plastic grocery bags to clean up my dog's business. Yes, I admit it... I use bags from the grocery store. I'm working on it people!

Submitted by Megan | April 23 2009 |

I have stopped dousing my dogs with chemical flea drops and turned to natural remedies. I keep my apartment vacuumed, bathe my dogs with shampoo that contains citronella, and use fresh cut lemons steeped overnight in water to sponge on my dogs. Citrus is a natural flea repellant, and it smells so much better than chemical flea drops. I feel so much better knowing I'm not put my dogs' health at risk by squirting harsh chemicals on them each month!

Submitted by Sue | April 23 2009 |

I like to brush my dog often and try to keep him away from mess to minimize baths that use a lot of water. and when i do bathe my dog i try to use natural soap and shampoo.
and when it comes to training treats i like to just use old hot dog cut up into pieces.

Submitted by Allison | April 24 2009 |

I use plastic grocery bags (when I have them) to pick up dog poop. Otherwise, I buy the biodegradeable kind to carry during our walks. I also carry her water in a Sigg reusable water bottle and pour it into a reusable collapsible bowl that I purchased from REI. I also use a quilt made by my grandmother as my dog's bed. It's attractive and sentimental. :-)

Submitted by Cynthia | April 28 2009 |

I like so many others, am trying my part by walking my two dogs more, composting, recycling, and just plain trying to do our part to help "our" planet and make it a better place.

Submitted by Day | April 28 2009 |

Instead of just dumping the water when I drain my tuna, I save it and freeze it in ice trays. When it's hot, "pupsicles" go a long way.

Submitted by Christine | May 1 2009 |

I like to keep my old blankets and use them for my two boxers beds. I also go around my small town and ask around for any gently used blankets to donate at shelters. I try not to use the non-biodegradable plastic bags from walmart to pick-up after my dog on walks because i know that if you throw them away, they get placed in landfills too. I generally ask my butcher for any unused cuts of meat and take them home to see what i can use.

Submitted by Christine | May 1 2009 |

I like to go around and ask for gently used blankets around my small town and donate them to shelters and etc. I use my old blankets as pet beds...

Submitted by Karen | May 2 2009 |

We too use the stainless or pyrex bowls for our dogs food and water, but found the dogs tip them over (esp in the puppy months!). My husband built quick and easy "holders" out of scrap wood. Now the bowls "sit" in the holders and don't tip over or rock. Saves water both from having to clean up and refilling!

Submitted by Stef Strosky | May 3 2009 |

Although its not necessarily dog related, we do save water bottles from the store and refill them using a Britta water filtration device that sits in our fridge. My family has also saved on heating and cooling costs by having installed storm windows over ten years ago. I see that many have used plastic bags to pick up dog poop. I do use plastic bags on walks, but when picking up after our three dogs in our yard, I use an empty dog food bag.

I have also reused collars & leashes from previous dogs and only toss them when they are worn and don't provide the safety that they used to.

When shopping we always use a reusable bag, or if the item is small enough it just goes right into the purse. Due to the recent diagnosis of Diabetes with my heart dog, I have studiously read dog food labels and have now switched to a healthier brand that is still in my price range.

And lastly only my heart dog Leo was ever purchased. Sully was adopted from a family that had to move out of state. Nero came from the city pound. And Holly my mini-lop rabbit was adopted from the ASPCA.

Submitted by Blythe | May 13 2009 |

We too use the empty dog food bag to collect the yard poop. We started this practice some years ago when we had five dogs. I find it strangely satisfying to fill their food bag with the waste that comes from that food. It comes full circle, I guess.

Submitted by Roxane | May 3 2009 |

If you have dog related items that you no longer want and are still in good shape, donate them to your favorite rescue or shelter for use at their fundraising events or for them to sell on ebay. Pugsavers lists items on ebay periodically to raise money for the care of our rescuesv and it's a win-win for the donor and the rescue.

Submitted by Pamela | May 3 2009 |

One of my favorite things to do for my dog "Uma" is to make her necklaces from old unwanted costume jewelry.

It is so easy!! I take it apart then reconfigure it into new pieces. Just restring it and viola a custom made necklace for my sweet girl. We throw one on when we go out and they are always a huge hit. She is a Therapy dog and the elderly ladies we visit get the biggest kick out of it.

Old Costume jewelry is everywhere and just about anyone you ask has some that they are happy to unload. And for all of you out there who were like me and had boxes of beloved Grannies funky beaded strands that you knew that you would never wear but did not have the heart to cast aside. This is a fun solution. Your dog will be the talk of the town, Grannie will be happy that her beads are not shoved away in some dark recess or worse, and well although I have made many necklaces that were not from Grans strands when Uma is wearing one made from her beads I know I smile alot more because I think of Grandma even more often. New use for old plastic ... New life to old memories.

***For all of you with boy barkers don't forget that those outdated mens ties that are building up in your lovies drawers and closet would be great on "Fido" whether it is classic or bow just tie it up, stitch the knot secure, replace the neck part with elastic and now your best buddy is the snazziest dog in town!

All their doggie friends will love these as fun gifts too!

Lets face it we love them because they are dogs and all the doggie things they do! But WOW can doggie life get smelly! So we all have gone through endless Shampoo's.... or it seems that way! Here is a way to cut back and reuse.

Well when I empty a plastic bottle I just have trouble pitching it even though it gets recycled. Alot of these bottles are made very well.

So I have found that rinsing them out and using them for homemade rinses works really great. I have used lavender oil, rosemary oil, citronella oil, coconut oil or whetever you like mixed with water shaken well before used and rinse. A 10% vinegar mix can also be a good choice. My lovely girl gets a burst of natural condtioning and I get a bit of aromatherapy at the end of my wet workout!

To Cut back on Shampoos and reuse more of the old shampoo bottles
I keep an approx 10-20% mix of shampoo/water(80%) in my car and out in my yard by the hose just in case of big unexpected messes like the dog park is muddy or she thinks digging a whole to nowhere is needed.

This saves on water and shampoo because I do not need to perform a full bath and we get alot of use out of our nice shampoo bottles.

We love making homemade treats for our dog too. They are a fraction of the cost, all natural, no crazy chemicals,a great way to unload stale nuts(no waste), easy easy easy and best of all she goes nuts for them! I have found that they have made really nice gifts for our four-legged friends and their bipeds!

Now I save various sizes of glass jars because they are pefect for reusing. When I need a doggie gift I choose the right size jar for the size of k-9, paint the jar lid, stamp a pawprint on it and fill it with our homemade treats. It makes a really very cute and lovely gift that is always well received.
Oh yeah and the all natural peanut-butter treats make my house smell divine!!! Yummy!

Submitted by reva skie | May 4 2009 |

We have a new puppy, rather than use puppy pads, we just use old towels in his kennel. We have a pup diaper pail on the deck for soiled towels.
I keep an eye out for items at garage sales that are on my local rescues wish list. Gently used towels and washclothes are biggies. Sometimes you can grab blankets and even dog beds.

Submitted by Sarah | May 6 2009 |

We have 3 small dogs who, when home alone during the day, use pee pads. But instead of buying disposable ones, I buy used bed pads from hospitals to use and wash - saving money and landfill space!

Submitted by Rennie | May 6 2009 |

Dog treats are expensive. We have a local produce store (very cheap) where I go to stock up on fresh food. My dogs LOVE carrots! Good for their teeth, good for their bodies! And APPLES! They can't get enough. Green beans, tomatoes... I would never have believed it, but they love them. Helps 'em poop. No packaging to throw away!

I am lucky to have crystal clear well water in my rural area. It's high in iron so I had a water treatment system installed. I freeze water in old plastic containers and stick one in each of their water bowls and run water over them until they slide out. They have nice, fresh, cold water all day. If it's EXTREMELY hot I just freeze the whole water bowl. And they like playing with ice cubes, too.

I have a lot of very tall trees on my property which keep my house cool in summer, and I rarely run the air conditioner. But my dogs can go right into the ground-floor garage and lay on the cool concrete floor whenever they want.

I have a kiddie-pool for them, too. Sometimes I climb right in with them to cool off. They think it's funny.

Now when WINTER comes, they like a nice, warm meal, comfort food, just like us. I put a can of high-quality dog food on the pilot light of my old gas stove in the morning. By the time I get home, it's just the perfect temperature to warm up my girls' bellies.

Submitted by Nicole | May 8 2009 |

We save produce bags, bread bags, and used ziplock bags to double as poop bags. That way, we save buying new ones, and give the food bags one more go before the landfill.

Submitted by LeeAnn | May 11 2009 |

Here in Boulder we've got a great curbside compost pickup program, but dog waste isn't accepted. I just hate to take something so biodegradable, tie it up in a plastic bag and send it to the landfill.

Just because the city won't compost dog poo, doesn't mean I can't though. Here's a great resource I found on the web for installing your own canine-poop-composter in your backyard: http://www.plantea.com/dog-waste-compost.htm Backyard doo-doo can be shoveled or raked into the receptacle and for neighborhood or trail walks there are compostable (and petroleum-free!)plant-based BioBags.

Submitted by Vicki | May 11 2009 |

I only use biodegradable bags for trash and picking up dog waste at home and at the dog park. I also try to buy natural dog treats and food as much as possible. When it comes to dog toys and supplies, I try to purchase items made from recycled materials and ones that when produced also don't hurt the environment.

Of course, I keep in mind that dogs don't need as many toys as we think they do sometimes and a game of fetch and a nice walk is sometimes all they need.

Submitted by Dana | May 11 2009 |

I make a lot of my dogs toys using the scrap fabric or miscuts from fabric stores. They sell them for next to nothing and you can always find fleece or other canvas fabrics to make fabulous tough toys. My dogs love em! I sew any holes or seams that come undone, over and over until it falls apart. No tossing of toys until it is just in pieces!
I also bake ALL of their treats from organic, human grade ingredients. I like to put garlic in most of them as a natural flea deterent. No chemicals are put on my dogs. The smell from some of those treatments is awful! I say if you wouldn't put it on yourself, why put it on your dog?
Plus my Golden who loves apples, always eats my core (minus the seeds and stem), so no waste from an apple ever goes in the garbage!
We do whatever we can personally in our household to reduce, reuse and recycle!!

Submitted by Blythe | May 13 2009 |

In addition to bread bags, I've found those silly bags that my newspaper comes in to be just the perfect size and weight to double as poo-pick up bags. While they're not biodegradable, I do have some peace of mind knowing that I'm re-using them.

Submitted by Katie | May 29 2009 |

I only use earth friendly cleaning products in my home, most of which I make myself using simple ingredients like baking soda and lemon juice. This is extremely cost effective, better for the environment, and keeps my two dogs from being exposed to toxic chemicals... particularly in the bathroom, as they have been known to drink from the toilet and love licking the sides of the bathtub. :)

Submitted by Eileen | June 7 2009 |

I was using the biodegradable pooh bags, but found them expensive and also flimsy....When I ran out...I discovered that wax paper sandwich bags are the right size and strength to pick up my dogs' pooh on walks... The easiest way is to fit one onto a small hand shovel or scooper.

Submitted by Anonymous | July 21 2009 |

Next time you paint the inside of your house, try Dutchboy Refresh. It's a Greenguard certified, zero VOC paint (so it's not harmful to the environment). The best part is, it absorbs household odors, which is great for pet owners.

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