Eco-friendly dog toys & products for the home & outdoors

Eco-friendly dog toys & products for the home & outdoors
Guest blog by Imani Hamilton.
So excited to welcome her to the Paws For Reaction extended family!
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Guest blog: 
Sustainable dog products for the New Year and beyond

Entering the New Year, climate action and environmental protection are more important than ever, as we collectively seek to reduce our carbon emissions by 65% and protect our precious ecosystems in time to prevent irreversible climate change. And yes, our furry companions have an environmental footprint that's worth reducing. The good news is, there are a few choices we can make in our suite of doggo basics that do make an environmental difference. 

As a first step, choosing natural materials in lieu of plastics and the associated toxins is healthier for you, your pup, the fabricators, and our planet. Why? Saying no to plastic prevents microplastics and toxic petrochemicals from entering our ecosystems, whether that plastic is leaching into our water from a laundry wash or degrading in landfills, where almost 90% of plastic ends up. Most plastic dog products aren't recyclable when it's time to dispose of them, whether they're hard or soft, because they’re dirty, destroyed (shredded, if your dog is like mine), and contain inseparable components. They’re basically landfill-trash as soon as they’re made. 

If you must buy plastic, always look for recycled plastic, like the toys listed below. If the only choice is virgin plastic, look for PET (Polyethylene terephthalate, aka #1 in the US) or HDPE (High-density polyethylene, or #2), which are among the 10% of plastics that are reliably recycled globally. Avoid blends of materials, which makes them unlikely to be recycled. Note that plastic degrades each time you recycle it, while metals like aluminum and steel do not, which is why metal is better than plastic for stronger, durable products like crates and dog bowls. 

Eco-friendly dog toys & products for the home & outdoors

Products made of natural materials are free of petrochemicals and will biodegrade naturally without leaving harmful toxins in our ecological systems. Because plastics are byproducts of the fossil fuel industry, we reduce the associated carbon footprint when we choose non-plastic materials. 

Lack of durability is often a concern and myth around natural materials, but there are plenty of natural materials that can withstand wear and tear and aren’t trash when you’re done with them. The recommendations below have been vetted and personally tested for durability over two years by a very energetic puppy and her friends, not to mention thousands of other canines and owners who love these products. These principles apply to human products too, so if you use toxin and plastic-free, low waste, and natural materials throughout your life, you’ll be on your way to a more sustainable, low carbon lifestyle!

Dog products for home

Dog Beds: Look for natural materials like cotton, canvas, and hemp, rather than plastic-based nylons or polyester. Removable bed covers allow you to wash them, making them last longer, reducing waste. MollyMutt has a great selection of sustainable, nontoxic dog beds with a natural wool filler. An even better option is to purchase their cotton canvas cover, allowing you to fill the inside with old clothes that would be waste otherwise. Your dog will appreciate it because it smells like you!

Toys: This category is one of the top offenders. Layered types of various materials and plastics that prevent them from being recycled mean they're doomed for the landfill the moment you buy them. But there are alternatives! One of our favorite plastic-free dog toys is the Tall Tails felt and leather toys, which have been approved by many of our pet friends. They're also very durable and last weeks longer than the typical stuffed animal toy with plastic-based fur and squeaker inside- all of which are non-recyclable and non-compostable. For something bouncy and indestructible, ChuckIt makes a recycled natural rubber dog ball.

Dog products for the walk

Compostable poop bags: Check your local recycling and waste management rules to find out which bins these can be accepted in. Either way, the important thing here is that the bags- and their contents- are 100% biodegradable and will not leave behind any chemicals as they decompose, which plastic bags always will. Even compostable poop bags take several years to break down. Compostable poop bags are durable. Our favorite ones are PetNPet.

Chewy Foggy Dog poop bag dispensers

Bag dispensers: Unfortunately many of these are plastic, but are available in other materials like cotton and canvas. This waxed canvas waste bag dispenser from Foggy Dog will take your leash look up a notch. Get this one or look for waxed canvas ones like it- just be sure to fill with a roll of compostable poop bags!

Etsy lether dog leashes

Leashes: One of the best natural, durable materials is leather. Leather can handle all weather conditions, from wet to snow (trust me, we've tested), and will eventually bounce back to a soft leather feel. Leather is a byproduct that increases the utilization of each cow killed for meat. Etsy carbon offsets 100% of their shipping, meaning any leather leash you order from Etsy will arrive from an independent maker, via carbon-free shipping.

Don't forget to use and reuse what you have today until it's worn out to reduce waste, even if it's plastic-based. These suggestions can help you reduce your environmental footprint when the time comes to replace these basics. If you have questions about designing or selecting sustainable products, interior design, or buildings, contact me at Imani Hamilton DesignsHappy trails and wagging tails!

Meet the guest blogger: Imani Hamilton is a sustainable designer and consultant for products, interiors, and buildings. She helps manufacturers, designers, and home and building owners make their products and environments nontoxic, environmentally sustainable, low carbon, and closed-loop. Her favorite daily routine includes walks with her 2-year-old mutt, Lola, no matter the season. Visit Imani Hamilton Design to contact her.

Eco-friendly dog toys & products for the home & outdoors

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