At the tender age of twelve, future guru of do-good Danny Seo founded the group Earth 2000. He started with a few friends, twenty-three dollars, and the goal of saving the planet by the millennium. The group had 20,000 members and was lobbying congress when Seo retired from running it at age eighteen.
Since then, Seo has written Generation React, a handbook for youth activists, as well as Fifteen Minute Miracles, a guide to everyday ways to change the world. One of People magazine’s “fifty most beautiful people”, the fresh-faced Seo makes regular speeches and media appearances, including meeting Oprah Winfrey’s challenge to raise $30000 in thirty days for Habitat for Humanity.
In Seo’s new book, Conscious Style Home, interior design meets social awareness as the author redecorates his parent’s suburban home with recycled goods, found objects, and all-natural products. The excerpt below gives tips on caring for your “animal companions” with conscious style.
I have always tried to raise animals using Conscious Style principles. I never purchase harsh sprays, collars, and bedding from conventional stores; many of these products are saturated with irritating chemicals and end up hurting the animals. My rule: If I won’t put it on my own skin, then it doesn’t go on their fur. Instead I use common sense, purchase higher quality ingredients, and invest the extra time in making homemade biscuits and shampoos.
Did you ever stop and wonder what you’re feeding your cat or dog? The flesh of animals-cows, pigs, chickens-who fall into one of the four D categories (dead, dying, diseased, or disabled) is what ends up in most commercial pet foods. That kibble may contain cheap ingredients, such as ground-up feathers or deformed chicken legs unfit for human consumption. If you wouldn’t eat it yourself, why feed it to your companion animals?
As I’ve stated earlier, I became a vegetarian when I was 12 years old. I made the switch to a meat-free diet after I learned about the cruelty and environmental degradation involved with factory farming. I’ve never been militant about it and have never forced my beliefs on other people. I simply did it out of my compassion for animals and the environment, and in the process, created a healthy way of living that has accelerated my metabolism and given me lots of energy.
That’s why I’m a big advocate of raising dogs on a vegetarian diet. Dogs are omnivores, just like us, and they do not need meat as part of their diet. A plethora of vegetarian dog food and supplements is available in most supermarkets today, and at competitive prices. You can order online and have veggie kibble sent directly to your home, too. These meat-free dog foods are nutritionally balanced– a high quality alternative to regular brands.
Because dogs can be finicky eaters, buy several small bags of food; try out a few brands over the course of a week until you find the one Rover devours. This might also have you thinking, “Can I make my own homemade dog food?” Yes and no. While there are guides and book on making vegetarian dog food, I do not recommend it. There is an exact science to these recipes, and if you make the slightest error, your dog may receive inadequate protein, calcium, or Vitamin D–all vitamins essential to their health.
Cats, on the other hand, are not omnivores, but carnivores. Veterinarians and companion animal experts have stated numerous times that it is not a good decision to raise a feline on a plant-based diet. And I agree. A vegetarian diet can cause loss of hearing, blindness, and problems with the heart. The best bet is to purchase high-quality canned food, like dolphin-safe tuna, and mix it with a veterinarian-approved supplement. By avoiding processed “cat food” and spending a little bit more money on better quality ingredients, you’ll help your cat live a long and healthy life.
Providing a warm place to sleep for your pets is a thoughtful way to give back to them. Yet, apart from a cardboard box full of old T-shirts and towels, many people hardly get the proper pet bedding at all.
A dog and cat need a place to call their own. To make beds a refuge for them, figure out where they like to sleep; then purchase a bed that best accommodates their preferences. If your cat likes sleeping on your soft duvet, bring a faux lamb’s-wool bed into its sleeping area. If the dog likes being scratched behind the ears, consider a hemp bed stuffed with EcoSpun, a recycled plastic fleece-like material. The semi-rough fabric will feel nice against the dog’s skin.
Exercise common sense. While silk covers, tassels, and a canopy may look pretty, they aren’t really serving any purpose. Pets are rough-and-tumble animals; the delicate cover will fray, the tassels will get ripped, and the canopy… forget it, it’s history after the first night. The best thing is to avoid froufrou bedding and look for beds that serve their purpose and do it simply and well. Comfort to a cat and dog is something soft and easy against the skin, not excessive ornamentation.
Excerpted with permission from Conscious Style Home:
Eco-Friendly Living for the 21st Century (St. Martin’s) by Danny Seo.
I’ve never met a dog that didn’t like this homemade treat. Full of nutrition and flavor (and none of those artificial ingredients and ground-up who-knows-what), even an old dog will learn new tricks for one of these.
8 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup nutritional yeast
11/2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 cup grated carrots
3 cups water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add water 1 cup at a time until the mixture becomes a pliable dough. Roll out dough and cut with a dog-biscuit-shaped cookie cutter; place biscuits on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush barbecue sauce on each biscuit (top side only). Bake for 30 minutes, turn off the oven, and leave the biscuits in the oven overnight.
When I was a child, I raised a Rottweiller-German shepherd puppy that I rescued from the street. I named her Ruebon. She was unusually strong and brave; the only thing she dreaded was being bathed. So when I had the rare opportunity to give her a bath, I thought I might as well do it right. To keep her clean and smelling sweet, I came up with this shampoo.
Bunch of dried peppermint
(or 20 drops peppermint oil)
Bunch of dried spearmint
Bunch of dried sage
2 cups water
1 cup baby shampoo
Combine the herbs and water, and bring to boil. Turn off the heat and allow the “tea” to stand for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture, and combine the shampoo with the herbal water. Let shampoo cool, and use immediately.