Reducing Your Pet’s Carbon Pawprint

Photo by Elizabeth Manley

By Christine Mallar.

When we go grocery shopping, many of us have learned to make choices that are both healthier for the planet and healthier for our bodies. We look for organic, locally grown produce, non toxic cleaners, and paper products made with recycled materials. But how many of us realize that we can apply these same sorts of good consumer choices when we’re shopping for our pets?
In the not too distant past, choices for holistic, earth-friendly pet products were few and far between. Food and treat choices were limited to ingredients that were simply waste products from the human food industry – grain fractions and condemned meat made more palatable by the addition of artificial flavors, colors and carcinogenic preservatives. Pests like fleas were only controlled with the use of toxic chemicals. Leashes, collars and beds were often only available from big chain stores and were made of the cheapest materials, with no regard for toxicity, durability, or wastefulness of resources. Many might have asked, what does it matter – they’re just animals, right?

Luckily, times are changing. Our animals have moved inside and become an integral part of our family unit. We respect and depend on the positive roles our pets have on our emotional and physical health; many studies have shown an increase in the quality and even length of our lives through mechanisms like the reduction of our blood pressure when we’re touching them. Greater awareness of global climate change has resulted in a significant increase in the range of available sustainable pet products. Furthermore, the demand for better products for our beloved furry friends has supported a veritable boom in the number of independently owned, holistic-minded pet supply stores. We did a lot of research before we opened, and we believe we’re fairly certain that we were the first environmentally friendly pet supply store in the nation when we opened in 2004! Many other stores have followed suit, and now, though those things I listed above still exist, it is so much easier for people who care about the health of their pets to also make choices that are good for the environment. (more…)

Recycling Tips for Portland Folks

(and some handy links at the end for everyone!) images

 

Happy Earth Day Month!!

We’re continuing with green tips this week to help people find simple ways to live more sustainably.

 

Amp up your recycling!

Portland helps us recover a lot of our waste at curbside. Curbside composting really has decreased the amount of waste in our landfills; in fact, a report released in January showed that more than 63 percent of what businesses and residents threw away in 2013 was recovered through recycling, composting or energy generation, which was a new record. Do you recycle reuse, repurpose, or compost 60% of your waste? Maybe not, but as far as recycling goes, there are good ways to increase the amount of non-curbside waste you can recycle without too much effort – our friends at Whole Foods in Hollywood (who are sponsoring the Fremont Fest Parade again this year) have a wider array of items that can be recycled than you’d expect.

– In the parking garage, there are bins for both “soft clear plastic” and “non-curbside plastic”. Soft clear plastic are things like clean clear (not colored) plastic bags, bubble wrap, shrink wrap and cling wrap. (Crinkly crunchy plastic like potato chip bags aren’t considered soft). It’s important it is rinsed – food contaminates plastic recycling and could make a facility reject and landfill the entire load.
Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 1.19.09 PM
– “Non curbside plastic” are things like clamshells and the flexible lids that come on tubs like yogurt, cottage cheese or deli items. Our curbside only allows plastic tubs (like cottage cheese), plastic buckets (like for kitty litter) or plastic containers with necks (like a water bottle), but these other items are not allowed. New Seasons also has a bin for clean clamshells and flexible lids as well.

– You can also bring hard bottle caps to Whole Foods. They have a little collection bucket in their dining area, or you can bring them to the customer service counter. Wine corks (real cork only) are another thing you can easily recycle there.

– The other interesting thing at Whole Foods is the bin (looks like a dumpster) in the parking garage where you can recycle clothes and fabrics. Wearable items will be donated and unusable fabrics will be recycled. This makes it a one stop solution for many of your household recycling needs, and it’s convenient to drop things off on your way in to do some shopping.

Do you have other things like styrofoam, TVs or other electrical appliances, batteries, or CFL bulbs? Metro will help you find a place to bring them! There are many nearby options (a few right on Columbia Blvd) that will take them for free or for a small fee.
Springtime cleanups are a great way to unload a lot of waste easily.

 

Neighborhood Clean-ups are plentiful this month
shirleysmyth_smThe Cully Cleanup takes place on April 23rd! Check out the list of accepted items as well as tips on where to bring items they can’t take

There are actually over 40 neighborhood cleanup events scheduled around Portland in April and May to give residents a chance to remove unwanted clutter from their homes, basements and garages. Keep your eyes open in your neighborhood for signs advertising cleanups.

You can recycle computers and electrical gadgets at Free Geek – they accept “nearly everything that plugs into a computer or uses electricity (including smart phones, tablets, e-readers, video game systems and any old gadget you can think of) whether or not it’s in working condition. We are happy to accept your printers (including extra ink and toner), scanners, routers, UPS, digital cameras, PDAs, cell phones, and a whole lot more!”  Link here

Things we take or give away at Green Dog:

We save packing materials that come to us (cornstarch and styrofoam peanuts, etc)  and donate them to people who have needs for them. If you have a local business and would like us to call you when we have bags of peanuts or other items you might be looking for, let us know!

Cardboard Boxes – are you moving? Check with us for loads of boxes of different sizes. We normally have a lot of them to give away, unless the recycling truck just picked them up.

Paper Shopping Bags – Bring them to Green Dog! We love reusing clean paper bags with handles.  We don’t mind if it has a logo from another store on it, it just lets people know we like to reuse things!

Good links for folks everywhere:

Recycle your empty pill bottles to benefit this charity

Recycle any old sneakers at a Nike Store! They have a bin labeled “Old soles never die”

Here’s a good list of many ways to recycle common household items that you may not have thought of before. Click Here

Recycling Guide from Earth 911 has even more nifty tips

Apple is doing an amazing job with recycling and other sustainable practices these days. They’ve invented a new robot that can quickly disassemble something like a phone and recover even every tiny screw and recycle or reuse them. They’re growing their own forests for paper as well as other initiatives. Check it out here  (as well as a nifty video of the robot in action).  They often have programs where you can bring your Apple products to the Apple store for recycling and in turn you can get a better deal on a new item.

Note: From now until April 24th, go to the Apple App Store and look in the Featured app section. You can choose from different causes and 100% of the proceeds from those participating apps will go towards that cause.

It should go without saying that the greenest things you can do are to reuse things (the bag that sliced bread comes in makes a good poop bag!), re-purpose things – a jar with a lid makes great food storage, a smoothie to go cup, or transport for bulk foods), or better yet, choose a product that comes with less packaging waste to begin with, and tell that company why you skipped buying it!

Green Dog Received Gold Certification for Sustainability

saw_gold_window-cling2016By Green Dog Pet Supply

The City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has a certification program to identify Portland’s Greenest businesses. It’s a fairly thorough process, with site visits to verify the information given on a lengthy checklist of possible actions of sustainability. In 2013, 45 actions were required for Gold Level, and Green Dog had 53 completed actions. Our evaluator  told us that we were “in the top handful of scores for all high achievers we’ve worked with, and by far the highest number we’ve seen for any retail establishment”. Woo Hoo!

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-10-27 at 1.48.29 PMThis year,we completed 45 suggested actions plus
note: (this post is a work in progress)

Read more about additional things Green Dog does behind the scenes to support our mission. 

This directory is an excellent way to find Portland’s most sustainable businesses – here’s the link to the general directory of certified businesses in Portland.

A Discussion of Sustainable Choices in Foods for Pets

 

By Green Dog Pet Supply

As a Green store, we of course are dedicated to sustainability, but that can be a real challenge with pet food.
The larger a company is, the more difficult and expensive it is for them to source the most sustainable ingredients on a large enough scale to meet national demand. One might expect that we would source only Organic foods, but this is more of a challenge than you might expect – many pet foods that are certified organic are not, in our opinion, necessarily suitable nutritionally for carnivores; organic meats are expensive, and often a very large percentage of the protein is derived from less expensive organic grains. (more…)

Happy Earth Day! We Celebrated With a Green Upgrade!

DSC00588By Green Dog Pet Supply

When we first opened, one of the things we thought was a no-brainer was looking into LED or other efficient lighting options for the sales floor. As the first environmentally friendly pet supply store in the nation, we wanted to make sure that we did everything we could to design for sustainability. The spotlights seemed to be a challenge though. LED technology has come a long way, but at the time, most LEDs were kind of blue in color, and not very bright at all. We needed bright spotlights to showcase products, and nothing existed at the time outside of the typical commercial spots. (more…)

Nifty Plastic Recycling Graphic Available For Reposting

This graphic is from  OnlineEducation.net
Plastic Infographic

Embed this graphic on your website today! :
<b>Please Include Attribution to OnlineEducation.net With This Graphic</b> </br><a href=”http://www.onlineeducation.net/2012/12/17/fantastic-plastic”><img src=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/infographics/Our-Plastic-Nightmare_Final.jpg” alt=”Plastic Infographic” width=”500″ border=”0″ /></a>

To Flush or Not to Flush – disposing of pet waste

By Green Dog Pet Supply

Not long after we first opened the store, we found a product that we thought sounded like a no-brainer for a green store – doggie poop bags that broke down quickly in water so that they could be safely flushed. It seemed quite logical that pet waste would be best disposed of in a system already in place to treat sewage, so we bought them. However, it occurred to us that we had only worried about the safety of the home sewer system before we bought them, and had not considered to ask what happens to the water supply when pet waste was flushed. We were already selling flushable cat litter and advocating the flushing of litter. Is flushing really the best way to dispose of pet waste?  We contacted the city of Portland about this issue, as we wanted to make sure that it would truly be a good idea on all sides. They vehemently opposed the idea at the time, and we ended up not reordering those bags again (and they weren’t selling that well anyway, so we left it at that).

We heard recently that a few of our distributors were probably bringing in flushable bags, which concerned us a bit, as it means  they would then be actively promoted to local retailers and therefore marketed more widely to the public. As some years had passed and I knew that Portland has made some upgrades to the system in recent years, I called again to discuss the issue. (more…)

Podcast: Greening your cat and dog care, with the owner of Green Dog Pet Supply

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Christine was interviewed yesterday on a blog called DandelionDish about how to green your pet – the topics included:

– What do we look for in a product and how do we define green when it comes to pet products?
– What should you generally be looking for in a food and what do you absolutely not want to see on a label?
– What is the greenest way to feed your pets?
– Discussion of more sustainable cat litters vs. clay
– What do we look for in things like beds and toys?
– Are green products necessarily more expensive?
– What are ways that people can save money and still live sustainably?

Here’s the link to the podcast

Time to ditch the old couch for our pets’ sake?

otiscouch

By Green Dog Pet Supply

I just stumbled upon an interesting article about flame retardants in furniture having agreater cumulative effect in the bodies of our pets than in people. Apparently many of these chemicals were phased out in 2004 in the U.S., but of course many of us own furniture manufactured before that time. It’s very important to try to minimize chemical exposure for our pets and our children- those little bodies are even more susceptible to toxins than we are.  Here’s the link. http://news.discovery.com/animals/ditch-your-old-couch-for-your-dogs-sake-110427.html

Finally! We’ve found the Greenest way to dispose of pet waste!

Bokashicycle!petcyclette

We are very excited to introduce you to this product. The disposal of pet waste is one of the most difficult issues surrounding pet ownership, in an environmental sense. Up until now, there has been no good way.  Leaving waste on the ground of course isn’t acceptable – not only is it rude and gross, it rinses away with our plentiful rains straight into the street drains which empty ultimately into our rivers and streams.Poop in a landfill releases methane, and “biodegradable” plastic bags release their own methane when they break down anaerobically in the landfill, only adding to the problem. Compostable bags may not release methane, but the poop remains a methane producer.  We thought flushing the poop was a good idea for a while, but we realized that some pathogens, like toxplasmosis, are not killed by the treatment process and can remain in our water supply. (This has been an even bigger problem in California, where sea otters have been having a recent problem with toxoplasmosis, and they suspect the link lies in flushed cat poop). Finally, some have invested in an in-ground waste disposal device that claims to compost the poop, but this method doesn’t hold up on closer inspection – it is very debatable whether the enzymes have a chance to break down the poop quickly enough for it to be free of pathogens by the time it soaks into the soil. The system recommends a large amount of water which flushes the waste into the soil before the enzymes have a chance to work, and the location of the device never changes, guaranteeing that the natural microorganisms in the soil in that location are depleted of their power to help in this process. Pathogens such as salmonella, E. coli and toxoplasmosis can easily contaminate our water in this way.

Enter Bokashicycle! This is a system that uses closed containers and natural enzymes to ferment the waste, killing all pathogens and making it perfectly safe to bury in the soil, making your garden lush! No smell, no flies, and very easy. They also make a kitchen scrap Bokashicycler (we’re using one in the Green Dog kitchen now), and if you’d like it, just let us know and we’ll get it for you. We can also drop ship either of these to anywhere in the country – what a great Christmas present!