Today, April 22, is Earth Day -- a day for each of us to reflect on how we can better care for Mother Earth and help ensure the healthy survival of all the species who live here. This year, Earth Day organizers are coordinating an effort called "A Billion Acts of Green," and are "encouraging people to observe Earth Day 2011 by pledging online to do something small but sustainable in their own lives to improve the planet's health." In the words of one spokesman, "Millions of people doing small, individual acts can add up to real change."
So I've done a quick inventory of things that guinea pig owners do routinely, and where there would be opportunity for us to change a habit or two...or more.
- Use paper towels made from recycled materials. Seventh Generation and Marcal Small Steps brands are easily found in many major grocery stores and general retailers like Target.
- Use trash bags made from recycled materials. This appears to be a growing category, and Seventh Generation and GoodSense/EarthSense are among the first brands I'm aware of seeing widely available.
- Use eco-friendly laundry detergent for cozy cups, fleece sacks, fleece pads, play area towels, and so on. Seventh Generation laundry detergents are easily found in major grocery stores, and Method products are easily found at Target. Mrs. Meyer's Scent Free detergent and Ecover products are stocked in natural food stores. (Admittedly, these products are a little more expensive, requiring you to watch for sales or check online for coupons, but even swapping out a couple bottles of your usual detergent in a year will help.)
- Recycle the plastic bags that hay and cage bedding like CareFresh comes in. Plastic bag recycling bins are found at grocery stores, some general retailers, and sometimes special bins at municipal landfills.
- Buy larger sizes of hay and food pellets. For example, buying a 10-pound bag of Oxbow Cavy Cuisine instead of two 5-pound bags puts one less bag in the landfill.
- Buy bulk bundles of paper towels and trash bags. One 3-pack of paper towels means 2 less plastic wrappers are being thrown out.
- Recycle the cardboard boxes that bulk orders of hay are shipped in.
- Compost used CareFresh bedding and old fruits and vegetables instead of sending them to the landfill. (This is difficult for apartment and condo dwellers, but if you own a house with a yard and want to learn more about composting, check out this resource for starters.)
- In good weather, line dry cozy cups, fleece sacks, fleece pads, tunnels, towels, and so on. A large load of these items typically takes 50-60 minutes to dry in a clothes dryer (unless you have one of those high-efficiency dryers).
- Replace paper towels for cage cleaning with microfiber cloths, microfiber sponges, and reusable synthetic or natural sponges. Companies like The Fuller Brush Company, 3M, Don Aslett, and others are expanding product offerings in this category. (If you decide to try microfiber cloths, don't overlook sources like QVC who frequently sell bulk packs of high-quality cloths at insanely good prices.)
Whew! Okay, so I've come up with 10 ideas. Can you suggest more? Please share in the Comments section!