25 March 2016

BUSINESS - Eco-friendly Pet Toys Growing in Popularity

The plush, purple dog toy crackles every time the dog bites into it. And the sound, that one may presume the dog perceives as the slaying of the fuzzy monster, makes the toy a favourite.

Inside, was an old water bottle put to use for a pooch – a wonderful way to recycle.

As it happens, eco-friendly toys, albeit still a niche portion of the pet toy market, are increasing in popularity and variety.

Cycle Dog's Fuzzy Flyer
Take a look online and there is everything from dog toys made of old blue jeans, bits of fire hose, bamboo, recycled canvas, organic cotton and beds owners can stuff with old clothes, blankets or towels.

It speaks to a fondness for products which are environmentally-friendly and manufacturers and retailers appear more than ready to offer some interesting items which fit that criteria.

Lanette Fidrych, president of Cycle Dog, didn't want to retire his bicycle wheels.

“As an avid bike rider, many miles also many flat tubes,” Fidrych told Pet Business. “Being an environmentally conscious individual, I did not want to throw my old tubes in the trash, knowing they would take thousands of years to decompose.”

Instead, he got creative, transforming tubes into dog collars for his pooch.

His plan proved popular and in addition to the collars, Cycle Dog is creating “entertaining, long-lasting pet toys,” which “promote reuse and recycling,” like Fuzzy Flyers which rely on reclaimed bike inner-tube rubber to create flying discs which are durable and easy on a dog's mouth.

And the products are good for buyers who want to be good to the environment – the brand's Ecolast Rubber Toys, for instance, has collected more than 100,000 tubes donated from bike shops and cyclists, otherwise destined for the dump this year, and turned them into toys.

Other companies, like Jax & Bones, use non-toxic vegetable dye and cotton rope in some toys making the items compost-ready and biodegradable when the dog is done.

And for those who fear going green means flaky and inferior, many manufacturers assure their toys are environmentally-friendly, safe for pets and just as tough as non-environmentally friendly stuff.

West Paw Design, for instance, makes many of its toy's from eco-friendly hemp fabric or even remnants of fabric from staffers' own beds to cut down on waste when manufacturing dog toys or beds.

Its IntelliLoft filler is made from recycled bottles and is non-toxic and certified dog-safe.

More importantly, perhaps, the creative and conscientious approach has diverted 9.7 million plastic bottles from landfills.

Across the pond, the Eco Dog Company boasts products which are ethically-made and green and even offers dog shampoo tested on humans not animals.

“None of our products are made in sweat shops,” its website states. “Indeed, some of our toys are made by skilled artisans in Nepal. Many of these women are widows and sole providers for their families.”

The U.K-based company, like many in the Eco-friendly dog toy business, strives for zero waste and uses recycled packaging.

Dogs do not have a monopoly on the market and there are plenty of products available for cat owners looking for eco-friendly fare, such as organic catnip grown without synthetic herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers.

So-called greenwashing – making exaggerated claims of a company's sustainable toy creation – means buyers must be savvy and dig a little deeper into whether a product is truly eco-friendly and not just an imposter trying to cash in with misleading assertions about their goods, cautions Amanda O'Brien, Planet Dog’s marketing director.

By Nadia Moharib
Nadia Moharib is an animal lover who has adopted everything from birds to hamsters, salamanders, rabbits, fish and felines. She has written about all-things-pets for years and was a long-time editor of a pet magazine in a daily newspaper which featured a Q & A column, Ask Whit, penned by her pooch (ghost written, of course.) The serial dog owner lives in Calgary, Alberta and most days can be found at a dog park picking up after her rescue pooch, Scoots.

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