It is well established that most pet parents would move heaven and earth for their furry little friends. Dogs and cats are spoilt for choice whether it is food options lining pet stores or chewy toys at the vets clinic. However, in our bid to make sure they have the best, are we forgetting to watch our carbon footprint? Here are some ways to be a sustainable pet parent without compromising on the love.Adopt, Dont ShopThe first and most obvious step is to adopt your pet instead of buying one. According to the State of Pet Homelessness Index, India has a total of 79.9 million homeless companion animals (roughly 85 per cent of all companion animals). Of this, 9.1 million are stray cats, 62 million are stray dogs and 8.8 million are homeless cats and dogs in shelters. Overall, India scored a 2.4 on a 10-point scale of the index. Barriers to pet adoption include disease prevention and vaccination, the cost of owning one, attitudes towards them at home, and housing and travel regulations, such as breed or size bans.Veterinarian Abha Agarwal says, Many animals dont get a second chance to life, and have been abused and ridden with mental and physical health problems. By adopting, youre also giving these dogs and cats a better future. If there are fewer takers for pedigreed puppies, you also wont be supporting backyard breeders who use cruel ways to produce pups, or contributing to the increasing pup population. It is also better for your wallet and for the overall community. Its not like your purebred puppy will love you any less, but I see how meaningful it is for adopted pets and owners alike, when they find companionship in a dog who already needs a home.Dispose Pet Waste EfficientlyArunodaya Reddy, Founder of Pets 101, a chain store for pets, says, Im not a fan of people leaving their dog poop around. That is the first step to environmental sustainability clean up after your pet. Even now, I would say only five to seven per cent of people around us do this diligently. Were also trying to educate this small percentage of people that dog poop will decompose on its own. But if you pick it up in a plastic bag or wrap it and put it in a dustbin, it wont decompose. Instead, use an eco-friendly poop bag. These are made of materials such as bamboo, which will decompose in a short time, say around 20-30 days. So for starters, picking up dog poop and using an eco-friendly poop bag is something every dog parent should do.The same goes for kitty litter. A lot of cat litter is paper-based or corn-based which is now widely available and can be flushed easily. Puppies should also avoid using pee pads. Ive not found a single decomposable pee pad in the market yet. While they may be necessary for a few days, stop using them and train your puppy as early as possible. Doggie diapers are also a no-no. Theyre bad for both the dog and the environment.Switch To Home-Cooked FoodsThe Indian dog food market dry food, wet food and treats was valued at USD 2.4 billion in 2022, with a projected growth rate of 6.1 per cent from 2023-2028. Think of the waste this generates. Pet food generates 64 million tonnes of CO2 a year, which accounts for 30 per cent of the environmental footprint that comes with meat consumption. Feeding your pets fresh food comes with benefits. Packaged foods often come with fillers and preservatives that can impact your pets overall health with frequent consumption. Not that they dont have any benefits. Theres a lot of RD that goes into their formulation and they tend to be a balanced meal with carbs, proteins, and vegetables.However, home-cooked foods allow for human-grade ingredients as well as control over the cooking methods. More importantly, every single time you open a packet of readymade pet food, youre contributing to another layer in a landfill somewhere. According to Innova Market Insights, 52 per cent of global consumers are willing to sacrifice the environmental credentials of packaging for a more convenient solution. These figures are highest in Indonesia (76 per cent), India (65 per cent) and China (64 per cent). To reduce this percentage, start by cutting out packaged pet food a few times a week and gradually switch to home food. You could also look for brands with eco-friendly or compostable packaging.Recycle Use Eco-Friendly MaterialsArunodaya adds, Recycle your pet toys, especially those made of rubber or plastic. These can be given to pet shelters or NGOs, instead of being thrown away once theyre a little old. After all, dogs or cats dont know new or old. They just love to play. In fact, we are planning to start a campaign at our stores next month, placing a bin at the entrance and asking our clients to drop off their old pet toys, which we can then donate to NGOs. They may not be environmentally friendly, but at least theyre not going into landfills and are being loved for longer.Other than this, look at products made from natural materials, such as stainless steel or bamboo bowls for your pet, rather than plastic. We are trying to partner with brands that focus on eco-friendly packaging for dog treats. We dont have a good solution for plastic packaging yet, but some do decompose in around 120 days. Pet wipes are also used by most pet owners for convenience. These leave a huge carbon footprint, but some international brands decompose in 70 days. We should ideally look to those going forward.