New research shows that one in three Brits now choose a pet based on their ‘carbon footprint’.
More than half of UK adults own at least one animal and 34% were influenced by environment concerns when choosing their companion.
Smaller rodents were the most popular environmental choice with 89& of mouse and rat owners saying their low impact on the planet made them appealing while hamsters were second most popular with 68% saying climate concerns influenced their decision.
A survey of 2,000 UK adults conducted by Opinium for 100% renewable energy supplier Pure Planet found dogs and cats were still by far the most popular animals with dog owners more likely to choose sustainable food and toys.
The full climate impact of pets was revealed in a US study which found cats and dogs accounted for an extra 64 million tons of nitrous oxide and methane every year – a quarter of all animal agriculture emissions and equivalent to driving 13.6 million cars*. Meat-based pet food was the largest contributor.
In the UK, according to the Pure Planet study, almost half (47%) of dog owners choose to feed their pets sustainable meals such as meat-free, vegan or organic while 38% of cat owners do the same.
Overall, pet owners are also increasingly climate conscious when shopping for accessories with 42% going for natural, sustainable or recycled toys and 45% preferring to source items locally.
And sustainability doesn’t end with the things Brits buy their pets – 45% of pet owners say they prefer to dispose of waste sustainably, for example by composting or using natural cat litter or biodegradable waste bags.
The energy efficiency of where the pet lives is also important with 43% turning to renewable energy, double glazing and low energy bulbs.
Among those seeking out greener options for their pet is Anna Mountford from Bath.
The mum-of-three has found a number of innovative ways to help her cat Betsy, a 13-year-old British shorthair chocolate point, to live more sustainably.
Anna said: “We’ve never fed Betsy wet meat cat food – instead we opt for James Wellbeloved dry cat biscuits which we buy online. Not only are the cat biscuits a lot cheaper than the tins and sachets, but by buying one large bag of food it reduces packaging and plastic waste.
“When it was hot in mid-June we made our own cat treats for Betsy. I used tuna juice mixed with water and made cat ice lollies in the freezer – Betsy loved it!
“Betsy refuses to sleep in fancy cat beds and instead sleeps in a cardboard box that we would then recycle. We don’t have a litter tray for Betsy either – we’ve trained her to go to the toilet in the garden so she disposes of her own waste.”
“We’ve learnt through trial and error over the years that Betsy doesn’t like plastic toys so we haven’t bought Betsy any toys from a shop for years. We’ve found they aren’t as good as toys you can make at home using string, feathers and sticks.”
Steven Day, co-founder of Pure Planet, said: “Pets are a huge part of people’s lives, as we can see more than half of households choose to share their lives with an animal.
“But some pets can have a surprisingly large impact on the environment which is why it is so good to see more and more people considering this.
“If you do want to help shrink your pet’s carbon pawprint the good news is there are a number of easy ways to help cut your pet’s carbon footprint with simple changes to diet, the things we buy them and of course the energy we use to heat our homes all make a difference.”