Lately, I've been using this space to focus mostly on my journey as a new mother. It's been awhile since I've written much of substance about our goals for living a more sustainable life. But, they are never very far from my thoughts. As we slowly settle into new rhythms I am trying to resume those life changes that I made pre-baby in order to live more lightly on this earth. One change that we never really got around to addressing, though, was the environmental impact of our pets.
Steve and I share our home with three cats and a dog. All are rescue animals. There are those who would argue that companion animals have a larger carbon footprint than Hummers and that no one should have them. But unless those people are willing to euthanize all of the domesticated animals that are out there, my response is that their opinion is not very helpful. These animals exist and someone has to care for them. We love our animals dearly. They have been with us for many years and we really do believe that we did the right thing by taking them in. They are all spayed, so they will not be producing any more of their kind and they are all kept indoors, so they are not interfering with local ecosystems. The one thing we could do better on, but haven't yet tried to, is what we feed them.
We provide for them the standard bagged dry dog and cat food. The problem with this? The protein portions of these foods are made up of the waste products (organ meats, bones, etc.) of animals raised in factory farms. I've given up eating factory farmed meat myself and I would really rather not support that system at all. But the honest truth is that we really can't afford anything else. In my dream world, I'd feed my animals a real food diet that included ethically raised meat. This is not completely impossible, but in order for us to be able to afford it, I'd have to find a local ethical producer/butcher/slaughterhouse that would sell me those parts of their animals that they can't sell for human consumption. From it, I could make my own pet food. Or, I could raise my own animals. Just thinking about all of the coordination that would need to take place in either of these scenarios makes me tired. So, we maintain the status quo.
In my desire to find something better, I am reminded to be vigilant and to not be swayed by greenwashing and, now, local-washing as well. When I first saw these dog treats I got so excited. Made of real meat? And produced locally? Where do I sign up?
But just flipping the bag over reveals who the manufacturer is: Tyson. This is factory farmed chicken and is no better than any other treat that's out there, regardless of the premium price. This is one issue that I'll keep working over in my mind and trying to find small steps that we can take right now, with bigger goals for the future. For now, that will have to do.