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When I was ten years old, I had the grand fortune to meet one of the most incredible beings who ever walked the face of the earth, and she happened to be a dog I named Marta. We had many adventures together, and she taught me a lot about life. To this day, I am in awe of the casual confidence Marta carried throughout her life. Canine companions have so much to share with us.

Dogs can also teach us a lot about taking better care of the environment. The idea of going to your four-legged friend for lessons on eco-conscious living probably won’t ever cross your mind, but consider these simple ways that dogs can teach us to better care for the world around us. After all, you only live once, and there are only so many opportunities for us to change things and heal the world for current and future generations.

1. Dogs, Know You, Just Don’t Waste Food

You may have heard platitudes about how you should not waste food starting in childhood, but the truth about food waste is horrific. The world currently produces enough food to feed everyone, but over 800 million people regularly go hungry. When you consider the fact that livestock production has a bigger negative impact on the environment than any other cause, it can seem even worse. According to the United Nations, food waste harms water, land, biodiversity, and our climate.

Take a cue from dogs, and don’t be part of this catastrophic problem. Dogs know you don’t just waste food. They tend to eat it all, and they have no shame in licking the plate. Talk about zero waste! You may emulate this habit by ordering only what you can eat or taking a doggie bag (which is fittingly named) to enjoy later leftovers. When you’re at home, you can cook just enough servings that your family plans to eat. Take this lesson beyond food, too, and try to avoid waste. Reducing, reusing, and recycling is more than a part of a catchy slogan. It can help you avoid destructive waste.

2. Dogs Have Endless Energy for Important Things

You may tell yourself that you would be happy to be more active for the environment if you had more free time. In today’s go-go-go world, people are always connected to work, school, and each other, and it can be hard to hear yourself think, let alone take the time for volunteer work. Dogs know better than to sit around fretting about their lack of time, and you won’t see them rearranging their list of priorities.

Dogs do have priorities, though, and they have their own effective methods of choosing them. Dogs take time for what they love to do. They don’t hesitate to put their all into a simple game of catch because it matters to them. It’s important to identify the parts of saving the environment that truly matter to you, then focus your energy on accomplishing those things. This focus can take you as far as it takes a dog in a game of catch.

3. Dogs Delight in the Natural World

It can be oh-so-tempting to stay indoors and connected to a screen all day long. There are televisions, computers, phones, tablets, and other devices that vie for your attention, and going outside can be subjecting yourself to risks and the possibility of inclement weather. Whatever your excuse is for avoiding nature, though, can come back to haunt you.

Dogs are having none of that. They will rush at the chance to go enjoy the great outdoors, and they revel in running and exercising in the sunshine. The delight in going out in nature, and people can benefit from doing the same. It can offer numerous health benefits. Also, since going outside can help motivate you to be more proactive in saving the environment, start immersing yourself in nature even if it means simply taking a walk in the park during your lunch break.

Finally, keep your chin up in the face of the work we still need to do to heal the world. The way to change things is one step at a time. You can volunteer with an organization that helps the environment, donate a small portion of your income to effective non-profits that are working to help the environment, learn how to reduce the impact of your diet, and live with less. Your daily choices matter and every one you make to tread more gently on the earth can make a big impact.

Image source: Brooke Glandt/Shutterstock

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