Celebrate Earth Day by Upcycling Items to Care for Your PetsPublished April 16, 2012
On April 22, more than one billion people around the globe will celebrate the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day. People of all nationalities and backgrounds will demonstrate their appreciation for the planet and demand its protection. As pet owners, we can also do our part.
This year for Earth Day 2012, I was inspired by eco-maven Danny Seo and his book, Upcycling: Create Beautiful Things with the Stuff You Already Have (Running Press, 2011).
Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials and or items. But I like to think of it in terms of Seo’s explanation.
”Think of upcycling as a higher form of recycling. When you upcycle, the end result is far better than the material’s intended purpose, and you end up with something that’s pretty darn cool and all your own creation, “ writes Seo.
As a result, I wanted to create some upcycling projects for pets and their owners. You can either use my ideas or create some of your own. If you have your own upcycling ideas, post them in the comments section of this article so that you can share them with other Petside readers.
Go Green: Possible Upcycling Projects for Your Dog
1. Make a dog bed
Grab an old pillowcase (Standard for toy dogs and King for medium-sized dogs) and sew a row of snaps across the opening. Then stuff the case with old clothing, blankets, washcloths or other textiles and snap closed. The pillowcase is easier to toss in the wash than a regular dog bed, so you can quickly nip odors in the bud.
2. Become a canine toy maker
Use a discarded water bottle to create crinkle toy for your pet. Stuff a men’s cotton, ankle sock with an empty, pint-size water bottle and sew the open end. Dogs will have hours of fun chewing and flinging their new crinkle toy. When the bottle on the inside becomes damaged, replace it. For added fun, put a jingle bell inside the bottle for extra sound!
3. Organize your dog’s supplies
Transform an old pocket shoe organizer into a pet organizer by hanging it on the back of an apartment front door, inside a utility closet, or on a wall. Store toys, leashes, grooming supplies and other items into the various sized pockets, making them easily accessible. Personalize it by adding your dog’s picture in a small, stick-on frame or by painting his name with non-toxic paint and a stencil.
4. Make doggie wipes
Not all pets like water, and if you need to give your pet a quick clean-up, use a homemade pet wipe which can be made at the fraction of the cost as a throw-away. Cut up an old, large towel and make squares that are 8” X 8”. Soak them in a combination of 1 ½ cups of distilled water, ½ cup of pure aloe gel and ¼ cup of Vitamin E oil – all of which can be found at a pharmacy or health food store. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Use individual towels cold or warm (heating up in the microwave for .30 seconds) to wipe down your pet. After washing all of the towelettes, make a fresh batch of the soothing cleanser. Caution: Don’t use this wipe recipe for cats. Aloe vera gel can be dangerous for cats
5. On-the-go water bowl
On hot summer days, you both get pretty thirsty midway through your route. Before leaving the house, tuck a clean plastic shower cap in your pocket. Whenever your dog needs a sip, you can fill the cap with water from a drinking fountain or your own water bottle and let him lap it up.
Go Green: Possible Upcycling Projects for Your Cat
1. The bowl that ends mealtime stress
Serve your cat’s wet food on an upside-down plastic lid (the kind that comes on a takeout soup container). Any juices and crumbles will lodge in the lid’s circular groove instead of going on the floor.
2. Create a kitty bunkbed
Two can play twice as nice with a feline hideaway and activity center made from a sturdy, empty box. Use duct tape to seal the top of the box and cover by cutting and gluing an old towel to its measurements. Create an entryway by cutting an arc opening on one of the narrow sides of the box. On one of the longer sides, cut holes large enough so that your cat can stick his paw through to play. While one cat hangs out on the top, the other can have privacy inside. As a safety measure, do not use a box that contained fruit, as the pesticides might have been absorbed into the cardboard.
3. Encourage your cat to hunt
Bring out your cat’s natural instincts. Make mouse-size toys by filling old baby socks with catnip and by sewing by hand. Scatter the mice, so your cat will have be hours of enjoyment
4. Protect your window sills
Cats love looking out windows. In the process, the window sills can become dirty with paw prints and scratches. To keep the window sills clean, cover with and old placements. Placements also add a decorative quality, especially if you can match them with your curtains.
5. Create a kitty perch
Your senior cat likes to lie on the windowsill, but cool air and hard surface is detrimental for her aging joints. Create a comfortable perch by upcycling an old, TV dinner tray. Put an discarded pillow on top of the tray and place it against wall , to stabilize it. Preferably, place the tray next to a window. Now, your cat has the choice to look out and see the world or survey his home territory from a cozy elevated place.
Go Green: Possible Upcycling Projects for Both Dogs and Cats
1. Create a Tasty Treat:
Other than throwing away the tuna water from a can of tuna fish, make pet treats. For dogs, mix ¼ cup of water to the tuna water, pour into ice trays and freeze. Once frozen, give your dog this crunchy treat. For cats, it is important for them to drink water to prevent urinary tract infections and kidney disease. Add one tbs. of tuna water to flavor their water bowl to encourage them to drink more. Best to use low sodium tuna or albacore.
2. Eliminate static cling from your pet’s coat.
If the atmosphere in your home is dry or overheated, don’t be surprised if your long-haired dog or cat will surprise you with a shocking effect. To eliminate static cling on your pet’s coat, rub the fur with an old nylon stocking. Prior to the rub down, insert your hand in the stocking and let your pet sniff your covered hand. Your dog or cat will be less likely to object if your pet smells your scent.
Will you try going green this Earth Day by trying any of these possible upcycling projects? Do you have any upcycling projects of your own that you'll try? Share in a comment! For more tips on green living with your pet, visit Petside's Green page!