Bedding Sustainability

stephanieclarex

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I’ve read up a lot on the different kinds of gp bedding recently and I’m really interested to know which type everyone thinks is the most sustainable/eco friendly.

My first thought would be fleece as it’s reusable rather than disposable however it is synthetic and ultimately will go to landfill and not break down at all. Is this the same with bath towels?
For woodshavings, they come in plastic bags but are they compostable? If so then surely composting creates less waste than reusing fleece which can’t break down. And the same with paper based beddings.

I currently use newspaper and woodshavings and won’t be changing for a while, but the effort of cleaning, to me, is about equal whether the bedding is disposable or reusable and it made me wonder.
 

Qualcast&Flymo

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An interesting question! I'm not sure what the answer is either...

I used to use newspaper and wood shavings. If you have a compost heap and a big enough garden, then you can put newspaper on your compost, but it needs to be balanced with sufficient green waste eg lawn mowings, dead plants etc. However woodshavings can't be composted in any significant amount as they would badly unbalance the heap.
These days I use fleece, but it does concern me a bit environmentally, due to fleece shedding microfibres into the water supply and therefore the rivers etc.
Some people use other forms of paper based substrate eg Back2nature, or aubiose (hemp based?), but I don't know if they can be composted.
 

stephanieclarex

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An interesting question! I'm not sure what the answer is either...

I used to use newspaper and wood shavings. If you have a compost heap and a big enough garden, then you can put newspaper on your compost, but it needs to be balanced with sufficient green waste eg lawn mowings, dead plants etc. However woodshavings can't be composted in any significant amount as they would badly unbalance the heap.
These days I use fleece, but it does concern me a bit environmentally, due to fleece shedding microfibres into the water supply and therefore the rivers etc.
Some people use other forms of paper based substrate eg Back2nature, or aubiose (hemp based?), but I don't know if they can be composted.
That’s good to know! I was told that all woodshavings, aubiose, paper based bedding etc were compostable as its used for horses and piled on the muck heap but I’m not sure that would work on a smaller domestic scale.
 

Freya1234

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I believe that Back2Nature bedding is compostable (I compost it), I use it in the base of the piggies hay trays and when I empty them I put them straight into the compost bin so all of the leftover hay and the back2nature bedding gets composted. However, in the rest of the piggies cage I use fleece but I hadn’t really thought about where the fleece would go in the long term. I do think fleece is more sustainable than woodshavings though because as @Qualcast&Flymo has said you can’t compost woodshavings.
 

Swissgreys

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There really isn't one clear answer to this question as it is very complex, and depends on so many variables that what is the most sustainable option for one person will not be the same for another.

For example wood shavings still mean tress are being cut down. The sustainability of this will be influenced by where the shavings come from and how they are transported and packaged and how they eventually make it to your home. Shavings from far away will obviously have a much bigger carbon footprint before they even get into your piggies cage, and trips in your car to collect them just add to this. And whilst shavings can be composted, most domestic compost heaps simply can't cope with the huge amount needed in a guinea pig cage as they need ot be balanced out by other forms of compostable material. However if you have a local dump or communal green collection this can make disposal of them a more eco friendly option.

Fleece or synthetic fabric bedding will shed microfibres into the water system when it is washed, but all cotton bedding won't have a dry enough surface to keep the piggies dry. Many fleece liners have a cotton inner, and of course cotton has a huge carbon footprint, so this further decreases it's eco friendliness. However a cotton inner will result in less shedding of fibres into the water system, so this is a plus in the longer term.
Fleece can be a good option if it is used for a long time - it will shed some microfires and uses water and energy when it is washed (assuming it is done in a washing machoine) but it doest need to be repeatedly replaced which involves transporting it from it's source to your home. It can be made more eco freindly by washing on an ecocyle at off peak hours and reusing it for as long as possible.
 

eileen

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You can compost woodshavings,it is the time is much longer to decompose than hemp or oil seed rape beddings,that compost within 3months,this is why slot of horse owners are transferring to these newer types of bedding !.
 

Qualcast&Flymo

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That’s good to know! I was told that all woodshavings, aubiose, paper based bedding etc were compostable as its used for horses and piled on the muck heap but I’m not sure that would work on a smaller domestic scale.
I think you are right, it is scale that is the issue. I checked my 'Garden Organic book of Compost', and it says that woodshavings may be composted but "mix well with wet greens, and only use in relatively small amounts". So a normal sized garden would be unlikely to produce enough green waste to successfully compost a piggy cage worth of shavings every week, though a horse probably does make enough wet manure to do it. You can use shavings as a mulch round bushes and trees, but you would soon run out of trees unless you had a lot of them!
The paper based beddings should compost ok, but they need to be mixed well in to the green waste or they'll just stay in a lump and take forever.
 

Minipiggies

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I’m using a mixture of vet bed in the main cage, and Fitch (recycled paper bedding) in a litter tray. The Fitch goes in the compost bin with any old hay, and I wash the vet bed in a horse bag, which might help with microfibres? We have a fairly big compost bin, though I am conscious about upsetting the balance with too much paper/hay. It’s not a whole cage’s worth which hopefully helps, though I do spot clean and replenish it daily, so it all adds up!
 
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