Posted by bessie on Tuesday, November 17, 2009.

Add your pets to your carbon footprint!

Ok folks, the day you’ve been eagerly awaiting has finally arrived. We’ve just turned on a new module in the footprint calculator that gives personalized pet emissions estimates – so go ahead and add your pets!

Believe it or not, pets actually do cause a sizable quantity of greenhouse gas emissions. The AVMA puts the number of dogs and cats in the US at over 150 million, plus tens of millions more horses, birds, and small animals; that’s a lot of mouths to feed.  The vast majority of your pet’s climate impact comes from producing, transporting, and distributing its food, although we also figure in its share of the emissions from veterinary offices.

The average dog weighs in at about 2 tons of CO2 a year while the average cat emits about 1000 pounds, making the typical American citizen’s pet footprint about 1.8 tons per year (yes, I’m talking about people-years here). Of course, your pet footprint varies greatly depending on the number of pets you own and their species and size.  As always, the calculator begins by assuming you own an average number of average pets, and incrementally adjusts that estimate as you provide more personalized info on your own pets.

Having pets does cause emissions, but there are plenty of things you can do to reduce that impact – having your animals fixed, being conscious about the ingredients and packaging in your pet food, and avoiding extraneous pet accessories all make a big difference.  You can even join others in building renewable energy projects to offset your furry friend’s climate impact – that’ll really make her beam in adulation.

Oh and FYI, we’ll be working to add many more new functions (think recycling, hotels, entertainment, motorcycles, clothing, health care, rental cars…) to the footprint calculator as time goes on, so stay tuned.

Matt K

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