Today is National Earth Day and my sister’s birthday. Debbie was quite the little bossy growing up, it’s no surprise she grew up to be a teacher, and so educating people about taking care of our earth is right up her alley.

Until I got a dog I never thought about dogs and earth day but it’s another great opportunity to be a responsible pet owner and dweller of this earth and to have fun with your dog.

Here are just a few ways that you can celebrate Earth Day with your dog and make a difference.

Clean up your local dog park or other dog-friendly areas. Besides the obvious dog waste that other dog owners left behind, there spend some time picking up any trash that doesn’t belong there. Some of what is there could be recycled. If that’s the case consider contacting the dog park board or city to see if it’s okay to add a recycle bin and if someone will actually pick it up. If they won’t then make sure to bring a trash bag and bring the recyclables home to add to your own barrel. The cool thing is that your dog can play while you and family and friends clean. This is a huge win/win/win. You get exercise and a clean park, you help the earth, and your dog gets to play with other dogs.

Make dog toys out of recycled items. Dog toys are expensive and, if your dog is like mine they don’t last long enough to justify the cost. Why not use household items to fashion toys for your dog? Socks and t-shirts can easily be turned into a toy. You can make a new rope by braiding strips of a t-shirt. Roll old socks up into balls and play fetch with your dog. The possibilities are endless and your dog will love having new toys to play with. Obviously, you’ll want to watch for small items that could be swallowed when making toys.

Enjoy beauty. We have been gifted with a beautiful earth filled with lakes and rivers and trails and incredibly beautiful places. Earth Day is the perfect time to check out a new hiking trail in your area. You never know who you will meet on your walk and making new dog friends are the best kind of new friends.

Plant a garden! Last year we planted a rain garden to help with water runoff into Lake Winnebago. It also helped with yard flooding. The garden is all Wisconsin native plants and is a great way to help the earth. We’re going to miss planting today because our plants arrive next weekend. We’re planting a butterfly garden! Coconut and Mele might think they are going to help. They are not. But they will enjoy the sun play outside and be with my husband. Knowing them they will want to dig. We’ll see how this goes. Maybe you’ve always wanted to grow vegetables or have a flower bed. All of the plants we are using are dog-friend. But if you do plant a garden please research or ask your vet about what needs to be planted out of reach so that your pooch doesn’t end up in the ER. As you prepare your lawn for the warm months please do not use pesticides that might harm your dog but that will also runoff into our waterways.

Out with the old. When you’re doing the whole does this spark joy thing and trying to declutter please consider NEW PAWSibilities. If your dog has toys that are never used, beds, old sheets and towels, food, etc., we would love to take them off your hands so that they don’t end up in the landfill. Donate old items to your local shelter If your dog has toys that he doesn’t play with anymore or just got a new bed, donate the old items to your local shelter. You can also donate old sheets and towels, as they can be used for bedding and cleaning up after the animals. You can bring your dog with you and even bring someone who is thinking of getting a dog but has questions about where to go. Look at the gas your saved going in one car!

Don’t Waste. Don’t overfeed your dog because overfeeding uses up resources, could potentially make your dog overweight which could lead to health issues. Dogs have an amazing digestive track and less high-quality protein-rich food in means less coming out which is something we all love. You’ll have less waste to pick up which uses fewer poop bags.

These are just five ways that we can be more mindful when it comes to dogs and the environment. You might be working today and unable to put some of these in practice. No worries! Earth Day is every day and every day is better with a dog. Don’t have a dog or want another one? Just a reminder that recycled dogs make the best dogs. Go green on Earth Day and adopt a dog.