Virtual Pet Ownership and the Environmental Impact: Exploring the Sustainability Factor

Virtual Pet Ownership and the Environmental Impact

Having a pet at home can be a rewarding experience. Knowing that a bright-eyed creature with lots of love to give is waiting makes it so rewarding to return from work or school. After all, what is better than relaxing and unwinding with a pet pal and forgetting all about life’s stresses?

However, having a real-life pet comes with a lot of responsibility – including an environmental impact.

An article in the Ohio Country Journal noted that about 60% of American households and 33% of worldwide households have a pet at home. Now, over and above the pet food and vet visits that our beloved doggies and kitties will need in their time as part of the family, there is another factor that pet owners need to consider: their carbon footprint.

Now, we know that no dear pet knowingly would like to impact the environment negatively (that’s the stuff that we only see in animated animal movie villains, after all!). But the reason why they play a part in carbon emissions is the foods they consume – and the natural waste that will follow after.

In fact, this number can be close to 64 million tons of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Added to this, easily perishable pet products such as low-quality toys, plastic bowls, non-organic cat litter and other items can cause a lot of waste destined for landfills.

Does this mean you should forgo having a pet at home? 

Not necessarily, provided that you choose recyclable, durable pet items and consider organic litters or other biodegradable items as part of your pet care routine.

But if you want to completely cut down on those extra emissions altogether – or do not have the space at home or the budget for a pet – a virtual pet could be the answer for still enjoying pet company.

Here’s how it can work for you and your family.

1. Your virtual pal might require Internet connectivity or data, but the cost can be factored into your monthly bill

While your virtual pet is mostly free to enjoy, you still need to have access to the Internet, but for most digitally savvy individuals this won’t likely be a problem.

Instead of having to pay pet purchase fees, you can simply download and choose the virtual pet of your dreams – without incurring a lot of energy costs that could impact the environment.

2. The accessories you “buy” for your digital pet are all virtual – and often free

Let’s be honest: one trip to the pet store can turn out to be an expensive one when there are several cute pet toys or pet bowls displayed – it’s always so tempting to indulge a little!

With virtual pets, though, getting fun accessories all happen on the pet’s platform. So, there is less clutter, and less money spent (unless you need to pay a little extra for accessories if the platform rules dictate this). 

Therefore, you will not need to dispose of any “toys” or other items of your virtual pet in the trash – so no waste at all.

3. Choosing virtual pets means no need for batteries

Did you know that Americans throw about 3 million batteries away each year? These could cause water and air pollution if not disposed of correctly!

Luckily, because most virtual pets are plug-in and play options, there are no additional batteries needed – just time to enjoy having environmentally-friendly play time! 

4. You save on pet cleaning products that could potentially impact the environment

Having real-life pets means having regular clean-up sessions – whether these be baths, cleaning up messes or even tick and fly sprays.

Although most pet owners check labels to ensure no dangerous chemicals are present in the items that they use, some cleaning products that contain ammonia or bleach can be dangerous for real-life pets.

Once the containers of these products are empty, they also go to the trash, adding to waste.

Virtual pets – unless it is part of the gameplay – do not need cleaning up, which adds to their benefit for the environment. They are always in pristine condition – with regular “digital baths and grooming”, of course!

5. Virtuals pets are perfect for preparing to have a real-life pet

If your kids have been eager to get a pet of their own at home, a virtual pet can be a good suggestion to get them into the rhythm of caring for a pet. Virtual pets that especially need “feeding”, “play time”, “sleep time” or other activities that can be mirrored in real-time can teach children basic pet care responsibilities. 

Plus, they can have heaps of fun interacting with their digital friends, and still have them to play with even if a real-life fur pal arrives!

Final Thoughts

Virtual pets are fantastic as eco-friendly pet options for individuals that crave having a pet but want to ensure that their carbon footprint is limited. So, have a browse on our pet family section – and if you eventually do get a real-life pet pal at home, always remember to choose environmentally friendly products and recyclable items!