Dear Recycling Bins: Our Weekly Recycling Advice Column
Welcome to our weekly advice column where we look at all things recycling and give you the answers you’re desperately seeking.
Dear Recycling Bins,
My family are bona fide pet lovers; we have two dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and two guinea pigs. While we obviously love them to bits, I often wonder how much waste we’re creating with pet food packaging, toys, bedding, and everything else that comes with it.
My question is, what can we do with our pet paraphernalia when we’re done with it? Can we recycle it just as we recycle our family items? If not, what else can we do with it?
Dear Mrs Doolittle,
Thank you for your question, and wow, you do have quite the menagerie!
We are often so focused on how much waste we’re creating; we often forget about our furry friends who need food, bedding, and other essentials just as much as we do.
Let’s start with bedding. Check with your local council to see what it accepts. If you have hay, straw, or similar that’s been used for your rabbit and guinea pigs, you might be able to put it in with your garden waste (though do check.)
Blankets or beds made from fabric can usually be sent to a recycling centre to be recycled with textiles. Plastic beds should be recycled with plastics at a recycling centre. Remember to ask exactly where it should go.
When it comes to pet food, you might feel a bit like Cruella de Vil giving them the dry stuff, even if the vet swears it’s good for them. So many people invest in the food in individual pouches. This is great for Fido, but terrible for the planet as the pouches are difficult to recycle.
However, the lovely people at Mars Petcare have just teamed up with TerraCycle to launch a nationwide pet food packaging recycling scheme. You can drop off your used packaging at a number of drop-off points, or you can post them to TerraCycle for free.
Once the packaging has been collected, it’s sorted, cleaned, shredded, and turned into small plastic pellets which are then made into useful items like park benches and fence posts. Wet food pouches, plastic treat bags, and plastic bags for dry food are accepted as part of the scheme. Check TerraCycle’s website for details of your nearest drop off point.
Now, a word on pet waste. It should always be bagged and put into your general waste bin, NEVER your food or garden waste bin.
But recycling is not the only way to get more use out of your pet paraphernalia, especially if it’s in good condition. Many animal shelters accepted lightly used or unwanted goods.
Many shelters will accept:
- Pet accessories like beds or cat carriers that are in good condition-shelters will accept anything that’s slightly worn, as long as it’s clean.
- Dog leads- extra dog leads are always needed to make sure that every four-legged resident gets their daily walks and stays in tip-top shape.
- Pet food and snacks- there are plenty of hungry mouths to feed at animal shelters, so food and treats are always welcome.
- Towels and pet blankets-these are another essential-towels to keep the animals clean and blankets to keep them cosy.
- Collars-these are always needed and the more sizes that are donated, the better.
- Household items like laundry detergent are needed to clean towels, blankets, and linen.
- Newspapers- often used to line cages etc.
- Hand sanitiser- needed for people like volunteers who handle many animals each day.
- Plastic bags for animal waste and other types of waste
- Cat litter boxes-there are always plenty of kittens that need training on how to use a litter box so they can be successfully rehomed.
- Heat pads- needed to keep sick, injured, or very young animals warm.
- Shampoo and brushes-clean and well-groomed animals are more likely to be adopted and find their forever home.
We hope this handy guide has helped. When it comes to buying treats and essentials for your pets, the best thing to do is try to buy environmentally-friendly things in the first place. When that’s not possible, at least give the items a good home when your furry friend no longer needs them.