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Smarter Choices for Your Dog and You

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Smarter Choices for Your Dog and You

By Claudia Kawczynska, The Bark

Try this: Select a spot in your home and lie down on the floor. Is it the kitchen? Give the floor a little lick. Or the living room? Put your nose on the carpet and take a really deep breath. Then, wander into the bathroom and check out the porcelain “drinking fountain.” Okay, stop the experiment. You get the idea: this is your home from your dog’s point of view. You generally experience your surroundings from a five- or six-foot elevation, but your dog is much closer–and much more inclined to sample her surroundings.

While there isn’t one set definition for “green” or “eco” buildings, there are important general concepts to bear in mind: Energy efficiency, size (it matters), sustainability, use of recycled materials and low impact. Considering that the average US household is responsible for twice the greenhouse gas emissions as the average car, energy efficiency tops the list–aim for good insulation throughout your home, well-sealed heating and cooling ducts, windows and doors weather-stripped, and energy-efficient appliances and lighting. (More tips can be found at

If you are remodeling or redecorating, use resource-smart building materials, which are safer for you and your dog as well as for the environment. And, before you purchase flooring material, or even paint for your walls, give some thought to the environmental consequences of your choices. Even small changes can have a big impact. Consider using traditional materials–beeswax polish and vinegar and lemon juice for cleaning, for example–zero to low-VOC paint (latex), finishes and adhesives; and non-aerosol products.

Follow suggestions laid out by green-building expert Jennifer Roberts in her book, Good Green Homes. When you are selecting home furnishings or building materials, ask yourself (or the retailer or product manufacturer) the following questions:

* Is it safe and healthy to use in my home?

* Will it introduce irritants or off-gas potentially harmful chemicals?

* Will I need to use harsh chemicals to clean or maintain it?

* Is the harvesting or manufacturing process safe and healthy for workers?

* Is there a safe way to reuse, recycle or dispose of it when I’m done with it?
It is easy being green these days, and a little research will lead you to many good, environmentally sound alternatives. Your dog’s life, not to mention your own and your family’s, will be the better for it.

Next: Green Flooring Materials

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7:45PM PDT on Aug 9, 2011


3:09PM PST on Dec 14, 2010

I have always had pets and have always tried to keep the house clean for them, as well as myself. I have a rule in my home - NO SHOES ON IN THE HOUSE. ESPECIALLY, in the winter!

We never know what we're bringing in on our shoes. And in the winter with all the snow melt, rock salt and the sand everyone puts on their sidewalks. We have no idea whats in our food never mind whats in that stuff. Did you ever look at your floors and see how white they are after you come in after walking through the snow melt?? So think what that does to your feet if you walk barefoot like we do??? IT'S SCAREY!!!!!

4:53PM PDT on Jun 23, 2010

I feel it is important to make sure when you're cleaning your house you use safe cleaners. Your dog does lick the floor, drink out of the toilet - you get the picture.

I use Parsley Plus Multi-Surface Cleaner for cleaning counters, walls and my bathroom.

I use Toilet Kleener.

All the cleaning products I use are all natural and safe for the environment.

10:37PM PST on Jan 2, 2010

very good article thankyou

7:23PM PDT on Sep 6, 2009

Gewoon een Ibroptruven nemen half pilletje en alles is oke

4:58PM PDT on Aug 14, 2009

If you're going this far to protect your dog, then you have to go all the way. Inspect and research all questionable ingredients in your dog's food, the bizarre chemicals in whatever flea/tick formula you're using, and whatever bizarre drugs/vaccines pushed by the vet. Go ALL the way and give your dog healthy live foods, nutritional supplements, and homeopathic remedies to prevent sickness to REALLY help protect him. Greening your home is only half the battle.

9:11AM PDT on Aug 14, 2009

I have the same lie-on-the-floor philosophy to keep my house clean for my two-year-old.

8:44AM PDT on Aug 14, 2009

Be careful when choosing something based solely on one aspect, such as a material that is rapidly renewable. For example most bamboo used for cabinets and flooring comes from China and with that comes a huge CO2 foot print. So it may be better for the environment to use some local soft or hardwood and is manufactured in your area. These days it is easy to get swept up in new green materials, but if they are a world away are they really that green in the end?

8:40AM PDT on Aug 14, 2009

Remember: you don't have to build new to build green. The greenest house is often one already built. By installing storms--which is now also eligible for tax credits--instead of new vinyl-based windows (which only have a life expectancy of around 10 years), installing a dual-flush retrofit (or just using the ancient "brick in the tank" or "let it mellow" tricks), and others, you can save a HUGE amount of embedded/embodied energy already in the building. It takes energy to saw wood/bamboo, make bricks, glass for windows, etc., whether old or new. And people don't always think of the money and energy involved in demolition--buildings don't disappear by themselves.

8:23AM PDT on Aug 14, 2009

My son-in-law is a house painter who uses only low VOC paints. This has resulted in a great business because he is also one of the few sober painters around. After a little research I found the theory that so many painters drink because that keeps them from having to come down off the high they get from the paint fumes. Makes sense to me.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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