|Article Author: Carol Frischman|
A Practical Guide to Sustainable Pet Care by A. Pace
In Carol Frischman's new book, Pets and the Plant: A Practical Guide to Sustainable Pet Care, a zoo educator, wildlife rehabilitator, and science teacher helps us to make the pet-to-planet connection and forge a realistic route to sustainable pet parenthood.
This well-organized, conversational (and this just in --award-winning!) guide covers a wide variety of topics pertaining to pets and the environment. Important and timely topics such as choosing the right pet, how pets affect the environment, and the importance of green pet food, equipment and dog toys are covered. Additionally, discussions of how to manage pet waste responsibly, pets and household health, and thoughts on ecologically sensitive pet services are detailed here. With an eye toward both the present and the future, Pets and the Planet also includes a summary contemplation on the unique twenty-first century issues of pets and sustainability.
We like the accessible nature of this book's, along with its mission to be helpful. Every chapter comes complete with a list of resources for the topics that have just been covered. For example, the chapter on ecologically sensitive pet services lists several organizations that promote and advise on green practices, pet-sitters, trainers, vets, and pooper-scoopers (er, make that waste specialists) in your area. And the chapter on green pet equipment and toys lists websites on that topic along with a list of suggested further reading, and so on throughout the book.
Based on the author's belief that lists help translate thoughts and feelings into action, each chapter of Pets and the Planet also includes a "My Sustainability Plan," section in which ways to implement all the new information and advice are laid out in a step-by-step and, more importantly, achievable way. Additionally, throughout the book readers are invited to take quizzes on different topics to find out if their current practices rate "good," "better," or perhaps "best" on the green and sustainability scales. Take note, there's no way to score a "bad" or even a "poor" on these tests, something that's nice for the overachiever in us all but also really true to the spirit of the book. Pets and the Plant teaches that even the little efforts are good and absolutely count for something. So even if you can't get to best every day, there are still plenty of ways to do good. And this book hopes to show you the way.
And because we never stop learning, in order to share new ideas from readers and information discovered since her book's publication, Frischman has created a free newsletter: "Pets and the Planet: A Conversation." In order to receive updates and to join this ongoing conversation, please go to www.thiswildlife.com to sign up.
Recently, Carol Frischman, the author of "Pets and the Planet" took the time to have an email chat with us and answer some questions about her book:
Pampered Puppy: As the author of Pets and the Planet: A Practical Guide to Sustainable Pet Care you've researched and written on a great many topics related to pets and the environment. What was it that compelled you to begin this project?
Carol Frischman: After a walk with my dog, Onyx, I tossed the poop bag into the trashcan, as I always did. That night, for the thousandth time, I wondered if that's what I should be doing with the poop. Should I have buried the poop in the back yard, or used a digester, or a bio-bag? A friend with a small dog suggested I flush the poop. What started as a simple question turned into a research project. No one seemed to have an answer I could understand. That's how it started, and as I looked for those answers, I came up with more questions. What about diets? What about pet products and services.
PP: A big aspect of your book is your "Good, Better, Best" approach toward being environmentally friendly. Can you explain how you came to that philosophy and why it's so important to consider in terms of helping the environment?
CF: Sure. I like the idea of doing the best that I can at that moment. If I don't have time to bury the newspaper I use in my parrot in a part of the garden that's reserved for building soil, I clean the cage anyway, and toss as much of the paper as I can into recycling. The rest I trash. Tying to do clean the cage perfectly (Think Bre Hodge on Desperate Housewives) makes me postpone cleaning the cage at all. That's not healthy for me or for my pet. Being aware of a "good approach, a better approach and maybe the best approach allows me to do what I am able to do and feel successful. Much about the environment feels like failure. Let's look at the positive actions we take, and keep doing as well as we can.
PP: What's one easy and efficient thing our readers can start doing,right now, to make a positive impact on the environment?
CF: The easiest thing that readers can do is to pick up after their dogs in public spaces. People seeing, smelling, and stepping in dog poop makes people hate pets and their owners. Using anonymous surveys, more than 60% of pet walkers admit they do not clean up after their pets in public spaces. That's a lot of fouling of parks and sidewalks.
In the home, keeping cat boxes clean is important. The number one reason cats lose their homes is inappropriate elimination and the top reason cats don't eliminate in their boxes is that they are not clean. And homeless pet takes us to the expense of county shelters, a real burden our communities.
Readers can do easily take an interest supporting municipal proposals for curbside organic waste recycling. Commercial composting of household waste would allow composting of pet solid waste, eliminating ten million tons of waste from landfills each year. To picture the volume of waste, imagine 1100 football fields (including the end zones) piled to a depth of five feet.
PP: In the introduction to your book, you describe yourself as a "pet person," someone who has loved and lived with companion animals of every kind. What kinds of pets do you live with a present?
CF: Two pets oversee my life: a cranky African Gray parrot that's been with me for 23 years and corrects the behavior of my dog, a Doberman Pinscher,eight, that has been our family for five years.
PP: How would those pets describe you?
CF: Well meaning but sometimes extraordinarily slow to understand what they are telling me. A writer is a boring family member, using the computer excessively. The up-side is that they get great toys to play with during the long office hours.
Pups from the toy and terrier group say I'm not a fashion diva, but working dogs like Onyx dig my "suitable for long walks" outdoor eco-wear.
My pets love our urban back yard garden with edible plants. Gray bird prefers grapes, Onyx enjoys occasional cherry tomatoes, and blueberries are my favorite.
I keep trying to understand my pets. When she joined our family, Onyx shredded one fabulous fabric dog bed after another. I almost came unglued. She'd not done this in her former home. Now I heap beautifully colored scraps from Portland's Cagoule Fleece into Onyx's recyclable plastic dog bed. Onyx shreds those scraps, it seems, to relieve tension, especially when I have not given her enough exercise. Okay. She doesn't chew my furniture or bedding-just her bedding and her chew toys. We compromised.
Maybe we'd describe our lives together as perfectly adaptable.
If your readers have questions or ideas about green living, please join us at the "Pets and the Planet" blog at carolfrischmann.wordpress.com.