The environmental impact humanity has left on our planet cannot be denied. From continued climate change, to the increase in extreme and catastrophic weather, to persistent air quality issues, it’s no exaggeration to say that the fate of life on earth is in our hands. And, as struggles continue nationally and internationally over how best to address these issues, industries as a whole have an obligation to find ways to continue to serve our customers while becoming better stewards of the world. natural.
In a nutshell, these efforts are collectively referred to as “sustainability” – a trend in production, packaging and more that has been on the rise since the 1990s. While many companies still struggle to understand how to what sustainability might look like in their practices, more and more customers continue to actively seek out products with sustainably sourced ingredients, materials and packaging. A recent study by FINN CADY noted that this is especially true for Millennials and Gen Z pet owners, approximately 70% of whom consider sustainability a major factor when deciding what products to buy for their pets. of company.
One of the easiest areas to implement sustainable pet products in your store is packaging. Consider deliberately storing pet food that uses low-waste containers or containers that use post-consumer materials or are easily recyclable. More and more bags from pet food suppliers are made from renewable materials, providing an easy way to minimize the environmental impact of an item your customers buy regularly. Several major chains have even started offering programs where customers can purchase cat litter — a deliberately disposable necessity — using their own containers, charging only for the litter itself. Other similar items, such as shavings for small rodents, could be sold in the same way. This translates into hundreds of tons of waste from product packaging that never enters the ecosystem, a significant win for sustainability efforts.
However, sustainability in food is not limited to packaging. While the question of how companies should approach food production is always evolving, making an effort to provide consumers with options to make their own decisions always reflects well on your customer base. When considering sustainability as a selling factor, consider looking for products that focus on using all-natural or organic foods, especially those that use as much of an initial feed animal as possible. The Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC) brings together all kinds of information on sustainable pet food production, with its membership including some of the biggest names in pet food. The organization’s website is an absolute repository of information on how to approach sustainability in the pet industry at the food level.
Beyond food, however, sustainability extends to many other aspects of the pet retail industry. Multi-use items, such as bowls, bedding, etc., can be made from recycled or recyclable sources, allowing pet owners to actively seek out products that have minimal impact on the environment . Much of the durability of these items comes from organic and renewable sources that can be easily recycled or composted, such as hemp, bark or cotton. When more sustainable materials are needed, suppliers are increasingly turning to recycled/recyclable plastics, especially for items such as carriers, crates, food and water bowls, and litter boxes. Although these items generally have a longer lifespan, pet owners are increasingly turning to these types of items when considering not only the best options for their pet, but also the best option for the planet. In fact, some companies have even started offering pet bedding options made from recycled plastics. While not suitable for all animals, especially those with a tendency to chew or eat their litter, many animals can easily benefit from some form of sustainably sourced litter.
Of course, just stocking these items isn’t enough to make them a notable addition to your store. If you expect to reap the benefits of doing your part for the environment, your staff and customers should be fully aware of exactly what sustainability means and what it looks like in your walls. Consider using eco-friendly holidays – Earth Day, Arbor Day and others – as natural times of the year to focus on promoting sustainable products. Make sure your staff can explain exactly what makes a product sustainable. Is it made from recycled or renewable materials, can it be recycled, or both? The more your staff is trained, the better they can then pass on this knowledge to your customers.
We have the obligation and the duty to offer the best possible life to our animals. And while it’s easy to think that this bond begins and ends with just one pet, that’s just not the case. Our obligation and duty extends to sustaining the entire world, ensuring that we continue to have a happy and healthy place for all to live.
John Mack is the founder and CEO of Reptiles by Mack. He is also Chairman of the Pet Advocacy Network Board of Directors and sits on the Pet Advocacy Network Zoonoses Committee. His Ohio-based company is widely recognized as one of the largest breeders and suppliers of reptiles in the United States today.