How To Cut Your Carbon Paw Print

Derrick Mains, 34, of Mesa, Ariz., considers himself a green kind of guy. He recycles, doesn’t litter and eats organic. But Mains, an environmental consultant, still feels eco-guilty. That’s why he buys his two rescue dogs, Copa and Lola, all-natural, organic food. And instead of plastic bags that wind up in landfills, he’s using a biodegradable box to scoop up their waste. Next on the agenda? Leashes made from earth-friendly hemp. “My dogs and I are trying to save the planet,” Mains says.

Since neither Copa nor Lola can vote for the Green Party, it’s up to humans like Mains to make “the right choices that can help pets be more in tune with the environment,” says Anthony Zolezzi, coauthor of “How Dog Food Saved the Earth.” And more consumers are making those choices. According to market-research firm Packaged Facts, U.S. retail sales of natural pet products are expected to reach $1.3 billion this year, up from $558 million in 2003. By 2012, the market should top $2.5 billion.

There is no shortage of marketers willing to help consumers part with some of their green pet bucks. The first step is to make sure you don’t make Fluffy too green. “Remember an animal is an animal,” says Trey Granger of pets911.com, a national database that reunites missing pets with their owners. Choose natural and organic food products that meet nutritional requirements. (For more info, go to onlynatural pet.com or treehugger.com.)

Beyond food, shelter adoption and neutering, how green Fluffy gets is up to your wallet. The choices are endless.

Instead of plastic bags for waste, try biodegradable waste containers like the Skooperbox ($11.99 for a pack of 30; skooper box.com) or PoopBags’ litter-box liners ($18.40 for 20; poopbags .com). Use environmentally friendly cat litter, which avoids clay-based litters that are produced through strip mining (learn more at worldwise.com). To find dog and cat toys made out of earth-friendly products like recycled plastic bottles or hemp, log on to ecoanimal.com. Your dog can even make a fashion statement with a 100 percent organic cotton kimono ($22.90 at sckoon.com). With all that newfound social consciousness, your pet deserves a spa treatment. Look no farther than Cain & Able (cainandable collection.com), a line of all-natural dog shampoos and sprays that, in truly Orwellian fashion, were first tested on humans.

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