Dogs are naturally green. They rarely drive. They are happy to gobble up whatever is left on our plates and just as eager to chomp on a branch as a pricey plastic bone. Unfortunately, they aren’t in charge of most households. They rely on a biped with a wallet and a driver’s license to make smart choices about what’s good for them and good for the planet.
To mark Earth Day we are sharing our dog-centered, eco-smart strategies and we want to hear yours. Post your green tip below, and you’ll be automatically entered to win one of these squeaky-green prizes: Chronicle Books’ EcoDog: Healthy Living for Your Pet , Earthdog’s Hemp Collars and Leads , Itzadog’s Ecollargy Collar and Leads , Canine Earth’s Bath Products , Wagatha’s Extraordinary Biscuits for Dogs , Woof Wear Organics’ Dog Toys , and West Paw Design’s Eco Slumber Bed  (the grand prize). [Contest is now closed to new entries - see winners] Learn more about these green products on our Editor’s Picks .
Walk more. Rather than driving to your errands and then walking the dog, bring her along to the post office, bank, cleaners and the market. Your dog gets exercise and socialization; the car stays parked.
Invest in your neighbors. Small businesses and individual craftspeople are making high-quality toys, gear, food and treats. Buying local cuts down on packaging and fuel for shipping.
Think long term. Durability may seem old-fashioned but it’s the leading edge of sustainable shopping. Channel the spirit of your frugal Yankee aunt, and buy gear built to last, such as stainless steel dog bowls and leather leads with brass rather than plastic fittings.
Judge the book by the cover. A dog toy encased in molded plastic that requires tools and time to open, isn’t just frustrating and time-consuming, it’s also wasteful. Opt for a product with little or no packaging and register your disappointment with the manufacturer of the item you passed by. Maybe they’ll be motivated to change.
Read the labels. The recall of melamine-contaminated pet food in 2007 was a wake up call for lots of people. We’re reading labels and steering clear of chemicals in our dogs’ food, beds and toys, which means fewer chemicals will end up in our soil and water. (Learn more about eco-friendly home products. )
Adopt a second-hand dog. Bringing home a dog from a shelter or rescue is recycling at its finest.