* Allow me to apologize in advance to all the other pet parents out there that may feel excluded from this post. I’ve only ever had dogs, so I can only speak to that experience. I, however, welcome low-waste tips from all kinds of pet parents.

As the proud, dedicated momma of two hound dogs, I try to give my babies the world. I want them to be safe, healthy and entertained, but I also don’t want to create a bunch of unnecessary waste at the same time. So, their daddy and I have come up with some ways of doing things that create less waste, but keep them (and us and the people around us) clean and happy.

Warning: I’m going to say poop a lot.

Tip #1: Don’t buy single-use poop bags. Pet stores usually sell rolls of tiny poop bags that you can easily clip to a leash, a key chain or your belt loop. I know they come in little cute containers shaped like bones and they are convenient, but they are wasteful! I hear you, I hear you. “But, Colleen, how are we supposed to pick up our dog’s number twos without bags?”

There are several options you can look at before you buy the little bags. These options are in no particular order. First, you can see if there are bag dispensers in the area that you walk your dog in. Most parks have them and our apartment complex has several of them on the property.

Second, you can use up all of those grocery bags that you have stocked up. My friends take them to Target to recycle, but we use them to pick up our dogs’ poop. Of course, we try to avoid single use plastic bags, but sometimes you end up with them and for us, they become poop bags. Bread bags and other miscellaneous bags become poop bags as well.

And lastly, if you live in a secluded area like my parents, you can scoop up the dog poop and put it in a designated area or in one large trash bag.

Tip #2: Buy dog food and treats in bulk or in cans. Usually wet dog food comes in cans or now in plastic containers. Say no to those! You can wash the cans out and they are easily recyclable. Most of the time, dog food is available in bulk and, if you are lucky, so are treats. We try to buy dog food that is in a paper bag, which is always less harmful than plastic.

Tip #3: Get stuffed animals and toys from the thrift store. Most secondhand stores sell stuffed animals for cheap or give them away because they cannot be properly cleaned by the store. This is a way to reuse something (the stuffed animals) and to save some coin. You can also find actual dog toys and other accessories at the thrift store. And if your dogs are like mine, they will destroy them anyways, so who cares where they came from?

This also goes for beds and blankets, which you can wash yourself.

Tip #4: Get a reusable bowl for their food and water while you are traveling. While on the road, you can use and clean reusable bowls at your leisure without worrying about creating more waste. I would also advise designating a reusable water bottle to your pups, so you don’t have to use plastic bottles.

Learn from me, label the dogs’ stuff or your husband will hand you their water and you will drink it. And you will gag.

Tip #5: When cleaning up messes, use reusable towels or napkins. This applies to many things, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. We use reusable rags for just about everything in our home and yes, that includes dog messes. As long as you wash the rags quickly and often, you are at no risk for germs.

The theme here, and to all my low-waste posts, is to follow the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle. Keep those in mind in all aspects of your life. You may be doing something wasteful that you don’t even realize is wasteful.

Comment below your favorite low-waste tips for living with dogs and other animals. I am interested to see what other low-waste practices I should incorporate into our routine.