Is It Really ’Green‘?

by Megan Scussel

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With climate change making headlines, more and more people are learning the importance of adapting to an environmentally- friendly lifestyle. From planting trees to riding a bike to work, anyone can do their part to help the planet.

Even the pet industry is taking the initiative, creating toys, treats, and countless other products that eco-conscious owners can purchase for their furry children.

But buying eco-friendly stuff can be a bit confusing, especially when the words “green” and “sustainable” are thrown around with little explanation. What do they mean, and aren’t they the same thing?

Green and Sustainable: What’s the Difference?

Finding a perfect, clear definition for each word can be challenging, but after much head scratching and coffee pouring, I think I’ve come up with something that works.

To put it simply, green is all about environmental impact in the here and now. A “green” product might be created using recycled materials, or it could be locally made, cutting down on energy and fuel use.

Sustainable products, on the other hand, have the future in mind. Can it be recycled or repurposed? If tossed, will it release chemicals harmful to plants, animals, aquatic life, and humans?

Key Phrases and Certifications

Of course, it’s important to be careful before you buy anything for your pet. There are dishonest companies out there that try to pass themselves off as “green” when they’re anything but—this is known as “greenwashing,” and it’s a real problem.

If you come across generic phrases like “planet-conscious,” “eco-grown,” “low-impact,” and “all-natural,” see if the product you’re holding stands up to those claims. Is the packaging covered in several layers of plastic wrapping? Yeah, it’s probably not green. Check the ingredients, too, if applicable. The shorter the list, the better.

Certification is very important, so be sure to keep an eye out for it. Qualifying for the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Certification, for example, involves testing a product for more than 300 toxic substances. The USDA Organic Certification ensures that no pesticides, antibiotics, or growth hormones (among other things) were used during the production process. If something doesn’t seem right or looks made up (and it very well could be), get on Google to learn more.

With practice and experience, you’ll be able to spot a fake from a mile away, but don’t be afraid to talk to your vet for more information. Good luck!

Environmentally-friendly pet products

bioCOMPet Home Pet Waste Composter processes 5 lb of food or pet waste per day and takes only 2 weeks to produce fresh compost. biodogradablebags.com

Kung Fu Paw Cat Scratching Post not only keeps your cats healthy and entertained, it is also sustainable, non-toxic, and safe for the planet. petique.com

Jiminy’s Treats“Crickets are a sustainable superfood that dogs love—protein, good fat and a nutty flavor —just what your dog wants and needs.” jiminys.com

West Paw’s Qwizl Treat Toy made from Zogoflex®—a proprietary plastic blend, and can be recycled into more Zogoflex—over and over again. Leftover shapes from toy molds, old Zogoflex toys that have Joined the Loop, toys that didn’t meet our standards—they all get sanitized, ground up, and used to make completely new, bouncy, bright Zogoflex toys. westpaw.com

Honey I’m Home dog treats are made from grass-fed, free-range, sustainable water buffalo from India, with no genetic modification or hormones. The treats are flavored with pesticide-free honey harvested in Germany, the birthplace of “health beekeeping.” honeyimhome.com

CocoChew is 100% all-natural coconut toys that helps clean your dog’s teeth while having fun! Made in the Philippines on farms with sustainable practices and quality working conditions. cocochewllc.com

What is a GMO?

A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. Source: www.nongmoproject.org

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