How to have a Zero Waste dog in the city?

by Rada Boneva
 How to have a Zero Waste dog in the city?

What a time to be alive! Spring is blossoming, flowers and trees are slowly but beautifully adjusting to the sun and despite the recent ease of the emergency state measurements here in Bulgaria, there is still some anxiety hanging in the air. For a while having a pet provided you with the "perfect alibi" to spend some time outside. Now we don't have to worry about that anymore over here but one question is still pending, did spending more time indoors help us all to think of more ways to reduce our waste?

We take a lot of steps and make compromises in order to live our lives more sustainably and build long-term habits. This includes our behaviour when in the (home) office, composting on the balcony, weekly shopping with a list, straying from impulsive buying, packing healthy lunch boxes for the kids, choosing sustainable & chemical-free toys for them and more... But where do our pets fit in this picture?

Some pretty cool PETFLUENCERS that we follow online are This Wild Idea, the hedgehod Mr. Pokee,  Doug the Pug, the fox Juniper  and more. Do you have an Instagram profile of your pet? If yes,please share it with us, we'd love to e-meet your furry friend : )

We also asked our Instagram audience what type of pets do they have and the majority of them (61%) answered that they're dog owners. Cat owners were next with 39%, some people had both and some surprised us with answers like parrots, hedgehogs, hens, rabbits and more.

Dogs are mammals tamed by humans thousands of years ago. And it's not a coincidence that they've become people's best friends over the years. They're adaptable, loyal and intelligent and they're so different from one another! Every breed has its own specifications - some dogs search and rescue, others guard, some assist visually impaired people and some do all of these. Being a doggo is not easy so good pet owners expresses their gratitude with love, tenderness and care for their furry friends.


Believe it or not your dog will guide you towards what food he/she finds most appealing.The dog's age, size and breed are also crucial when choosing his/her meal plan so that he/she doesn't become overweight or get malnourished.

A quick search shows that the amount of food intakes depending on the size of the dog is:

  • for small breeds up to 4 months old - 3 meals per day, from 3 to 10 months - 2 meals;
  • for medium sized breeds up to 6 months old – 3 meals per day; from 6 to 12 months old – 2 meals;
  • for large breeds up to 6 months old – 3 meals per day; from от 6 to 15 months old – 2 meals

Another question is whether you'll choose to feed your dog with homemade food (such as meat, peas, rice, carrots and other veggies or keep him/her on a completely plant based diet) or offer him/her ready-made food such as granules, canned food or pouches. Some pet owners also prefer the combination of raw meat and veggie broths.

The key is keeping your beloved pet on a nutritious and diverse diet, offering a lot of vitamins and minerals. For example, if we want our dog to have a shiny coat, we need to concentrate on supplying him/her with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Granules offer a pretty decent cocktail of healthy ingredients which are often also beneficial when it comes to preventing plaque and tartar build up.

Whatever you choose, keep your eyes open for package-free options, like you'd do for yourself, right? You can bring your own container to the local pet shop or get granules in a large pack to reduce smaller packaging waste and CO2 emissions (in case you need to drive to the store or get the food shipped from another city/country). Of course, good old cans are also available in most pet stores.


We found it hard to believe at first but over here in Bulgaria one can also find doggie beerwhich is in fact liquid food made of malt extract, chicken and beef. It doesn't contain any alcohol and your doggo can totally join you on the regular Saturday chilling afternoon.

Also, the first dog bakery opened doors in Sofia in 2019 offering different types of package-free treats and cakes. You can read more about them here.

You can also try making a cake or muffins for the birthday of your furry friend at home as well!


Dogs can generate a lot of energy pretty fast. Because of that they need proper hydration and cooling off. Make sure that you have enough fresh water for your fellow. You can use a filter jug, fridges with built-in filters are also great or a simple activated charcoal stick also does the job.

Best bowls to use in our opinion are the stainless steel ones.We also love steel containers for the days when one is taking their dog on a long walk around the city. Good thing that these are widely distributed in plenty of pet stores - both brick and mortar and online. If you have a few doggos you can also get one large bowl with different compartments for all of them. Also, if you happen to have a slippery kitchen check whether a bowl with a rubber tray can work for you.


You don't need a king size bedroom to make your beloved doggo happy. Go up to the attic or visit granny's countryhouse and chances are that you might find an old mattress waiting to be picked, disinfect it, cover it with comfy blankets and voila. If that option doesn't work you can also speak to a local artist who can craft something for you. We can recommend Silviya from our hometown, Plovdiv, you can check her creations over here


Let's get one thing straight - dogs love to play. They can improvise with almost anything - house slippers, socks, cabels and other unthought of items, we need to address this tendency and get them some proper ones. If you do not have children, ask friends around, chances are that they have some stuffed toys they can give you. You can also stop by at your local second-hand store. Some dogs also love tennis balls, ropes and more.


We know that a lot of fluffies don't really enjoy getting a bath so that is hardly a spa experience for them. It goes a bit smoother and safer if you opt for a natural shampoo bar, especially if it's handmade, cruelty-free and doesn't contain any ingredients of animal origin. A shampoo bar of 65 grams will suffice for 1-2 months for a medium sized dog.You can store it in a metal soap travel tin and if you place an order from our shop now and you're based in Bulgaria you can benefit from a free delivery to a Speedy office. We deliver only in sustainable packaging, re-using cardboard boxes, using paper tape instead of plastic and wrapping fragile items in "rescued" cotton fabric.

One thing we need to keep in mind is that pets are also sensitive towards chemicals so we need to have the same approach to their laundry as we do to ours and choose sustainable cosmetics for them the same way we would for our own skin and hair.

That brings us to another point, have you seen our mineral laundry ball? It's hypoallergenic, economical and practical! You can use it for up to 1,000 washes which equals around 50 laundry detergents and reduces the laundry expenses by 80%! All you have to do is put the laundry ball together with your clothes at no more than 60 degrees or soak it up with your clothes if you're handwashing. You can learn more about its benefits from here

If you have hard stains on your dog's blanket or toys then we can recommend our universal Marseille soap

One great thing is that you don't need lots of detergents for your doggo's laundry and you can also use the Marseille soap as a substitute for dishwashing liquid, shower gel, face wash and more.


If your doggo has a lot of fur you can check out whether your local pet store has wooden/steel combs or brushes that are also anti static and prevent hair loss.

If you prefer bright colours and you love having matching accessories with your dog you can check out Ador Barador 25% of their profit gets donated to dog shelters.


If you happen to live in a house, you can try the worm farm. All you need is an old bucket which you can upcycle after home renovations or get from neighbours/friends, you need to add some fresh soil, paper/cardboard and worms. Blazhka Dimitrova, the founder of the first zero waste restaurant in Bulgaria, Blagichka Zero Waste has described it in more details in her book "Zero Waste Lifestyle in Bulgaria".

If you're outside you can use a piece of paper,newspaper or a napkin to clean after your dog. During the fall you can also use a leaf. Our cities over here in Bulgaria are relatively green and you can find quite a few small parks or green areas around the blocks. Please bear in mind that compostable or regular plastic bags are not a good option! Biodegradable bags might sound tempting but they need special conditions to break such as heat, moist, energy and more.

Treat your furry friend with respect! If you have any pet related concerns because of the current pandemic you can check out the tips of the Bulgarian Four paws Foundation here. On that note, washing your dog's paws with water and soap after a walk is very important and now is also a great time to adopt a pet as we tend to have more spare time to devote to him/her. If you're worried about whether you'll be able to tend to your pet after the measurements get loose, you can still offer a temporary home for a pet in need. Temporary shelter is much better than none in our opinion!

We'd also highly encourage you to adopt a rescued pet if you can! Rescues are just as cute and adorable as any pure breeds.We have our Bella to cheer us up every time we go to work as she lives in the backyard of our warehouse : )

Bonus: We asked some sustainably minded friends to share their tips for zero waste pet care and here is what they said:

"I started the transitioning process believing that it wouldn't be too hard and I was right.Your pets will follow what you do and love you regardless of the fact whether you feed them with packaged food or such from the bulk section." - shares Blazhka Dimitrova in her book.

Liya Panayotova, blogger (ContraBond) and freelance journalist:

"I've been living with my adopted Mega for 7 years (because she rocks!) We go together to co-working spaces from where I write, to the beach, on hikes and even hitch-hike (You can check out Liya's article about traveling with a doggo over here). When we are on the road I always carry a foldable silicone bowl that I can fit in my backpack.I get her either granules from the bulk section using my own container or cruelty-free canned food and I diligently wash and recycle the cans.In the last few months I've been carrying paper napkins instead of plastic bags to clean after her in the city. A lot of the so-called "biodegradable" dog poo bags have a dirty secret and often get tossed at landfill where they rot for hundreds of years before they even start breaking down. I recently got this vision of people finding "doggy souvenirs" in a couple of generations time and that amused me on one hand but also made me reconsider the way we've been going on walks.

I can't imagine my life without a dog! Doggos bring so much love to one's life and our joint effort to live more sustainably is quite small and hardly any trouble!"

Ralitsa Gencheva, minimalist, author and writer:

"One thing that we stopped doing is buying plastic dog poo bags. We use whatever bags we can find at home or from friends and family. Our dog is quite small and doesn't need anything else when outside : ) He has a few toys but prefers to play with a slipper at 99% of the time or with us. Having him hasn't helped or hindered our sustainable lifestyle - we continue following all of the steps."

Antonya Yankova, Account Support Manager with 2 wild doggos:

"When I need to get them food I order from the biggest bags to save unnecessary small packaging and plastic bags from the pet stores, if something runs out unexpectedly I get granules in bulk using old ice-cream containers.I've made them knots to play with from old bathrobes and if they get to completely destroy a plastic toy - I wash it and give it for recycling, one good thing is that dog toys are made of recyclable plastic most times. I also let them play with old socks which cannot be used anymore.

When outside I collect their poo using kitchen roll.If they do their business in a foresty area that gets visited only by other dogs, I leave their "produce" there.