Sometimes it feels like the problems faced by the animals of this world, and the environment we all live in, are so huge and so far gone that there is nothing we ordinary individuals can do.
Admittedly, as an empath I may be more prone to this occasional overwhelm, but I know I’m not alone. You may have just seen a news report or social media post about a disaster, environmental policy reversal, cruelty case, or fearful prediction that made your heart sink, too.
Consider this, though: If you have adopted an animal, you’ve already exercised the power to save lives and alleviate suffering. Like the young man throwing one beached starfish after another back into the ocean after a storm, we each save the world by doing what we have the power to do.
The practice of Reiki helps me do that by first getting out of the muck of fear and into a place of peace and balance. Only then can I hear God’s still, small voice. Then I can discern and do something useful, whether it’s a Reiki session with a rescued horse or a small change in the way I care for my own animals.
In the interest of ditching the defeatist crap in favor of practical solutions that add up, here are a few ideas. (I receive no compensation from any business mentioned; these recommendations come free and clear.)
1. Be wise about waste
Speaking of crap, pick up after your dog. Yes, you. Yes, really. Earth Rated makes biodegradable poop bags you can easily take on walks. They come in all sizes, some lavender scented. You can even get them in a little dispenser that clips to the leash. It preserves neighborly goodwill, saves shoes, and helps keep contaminants out of our water.
For cats, I recommend disposable, biodegradable Nature’s Miracle litter boxes. (Avoid the cheap imitations if you don’t want a peepocalypse.) You can use the biodegradable bags for the daily scoop, put the whole box in a biodegradable kitchen bag after four to six weeks, and put it in the trash. It uses less litter, avoids plastic litter boxes and liners, and you don’t have to scrub or disinfect.
There are many litter choices on the market beyond the clay or clumping varieties. Recycled newspaper, pine shavings, sawdust, and wheat are some of the options branded as earth-friendly, but I found no independent reviews or studies on this. Since both veterinarians and cats have preferences regarding cat litter, ask your vet before you switch. Then gradually mix in the old with the new. Be prepared to switch back if the new is not to Her/His Majesty’s liking. Litter box boycotts are not environmentally friendly.
By the way, I’ve found Bac-Out to be a good, nontoxic choice for removing pet stains and odors.
2. Play well, play fair
As the lottery commercials say, please play responsibly. A pet toy may not seem to have much impact on the environment, but ethical sourcing and sustainable materials make a difference. Durability makes a difference too; it’s frustrating to find the perfect toy, only to have your little darling destroy it in an hour.
Cheap plastic impulse buys happen to the best of us. However, shops such as Green Doggoods here in Fort Wayne, Indiana sell quality, eco-friendly pet toys. (Green Dog also carries the aforementioned poop bags.) Without much extra effort, you can make more eco-friendly choices, support a local business, and give your beloved animal the best.
Also remember that for cats, nothing beats a cardboard box or a randomly tossed paper wad. Both are recyclable.
3. “Put away the chocolate” notes and other memory tricks
Chocolate is a delight to us, but toxic to our four-legged friends. So any chocolate you receive for Valentine’s Day or any other occasion needs to be kept out of their reach.
It’s easy to forget to do this. When our attention is in several places at once, it’s easy to leave a box of chocolates out. Or not notice that somebody has slipped out the door, a gate was left open, or a water bowl is empty.
Again, small efforts can yield big returns. We can get in the habit of entering and exiting carefully and making sure the gate latches. We can put a “Return to cupboard” note on or inside the the chocolate box. (The little cheat sheet that tells us which truffle is which would be a good place.) We can put reminders to check the water bowl on our phones.
Being more aware of what we’re doing is better for our and our animals’ overall well-being. And in one of those “we are all connected” philosophies we might find tiresome but true, that can’t help but make for a better world.