Every Day is Earth Day: Small Changes Make a Big Difference

by Jamie Pyatt

As tenants on this great glob of blue we call Earth, it is our duty to tread as lightly as possible and leave little behind to show we were here. Even small and insignificant seeming changes contribute to reversing the devastation we humans have caused the planet. Selecting locally made products or products made in countries that demand ecological responsibility, searching out products made with recycled content or readily renewable resources, reusing products rather than disposing in a landfill, recycling products that are no longer able to be reused, are all seemingly small changes that have big impact.

I celebrate the fact that, by all appearances, the world has “gone green”. Humans are awakening to the impact we have had on the Earth and beginning to make changes to reverse the damage done. Manufacturers are listening to their customers and reducing packaging, increasing recycled content and using renewable resources in the manufacturing process.

We need to expand that line of thought to include the products and services that we provide our pets, livestock and companion animals. Using the same 3 R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle – that have been touted since the original Earth Day in 1970, and applying it to the purchases we make for our animals will compound the changes we are making in our own lives.

I consider myself lucky to be a part of a company that searches out “Earth Friendly” products and manufacturers. Finding a quality pet product made by an environmentally conscious company with a reasonable price, is no small task, but the offerings have increased. Hopefully the trend will continue as more and more manufacturers recognize that we want better products for our pets without sacrificing our environmental ethics.

One of the recent additions of earth conscious brands is Zuke’s dog treats. In addition to making natural dog treats and chews, the Colorado based company consciously crafts their Superfood Organic line to keep “both pets and the planet healthy”. Every box is made using 100% wind energy, is made of 100% recycled cardboard and uses 20% less material than similar dog treats.

Zuke’s encourages their employees to reduce emissions by paying them to leave their car at home and bike, or ride a scooter, to the offices, which are powered by 100% green electricity! Zuke’s is truly an innovative and ecologically minded company, and they make great treats too!

Cloud Star, manufacturer of the many varieties of USA made Buddy Biscuits, dedicate 10% of net profits annually to organizations that support the preservation and restoration of our environment as well as to organizations that benefit animals, woman and children. According to their website they “endeavor to be good environmental stewards in all ways possible”. They make treats that are good for your dog and are good to the environment.

We love to give our pets comfy beds to lie on and if they are easy to clean, that’s a bonus for us! Crypton, makers of extraordinary crate mats and beds that resist dirt, water and odors, strive to decrease their environmental footprint. 5 Years ago Crypton began establishing more environmentally responsible processes. Crypton beds are made from 50 to 100% recycled fibers, rapidly renewable wool, or bamboo or rayon made from bamboo, depending on the product. By using the most environmentally intelligent processes Crypton has reduced water consumption by 40%; gas consumption has also been reduced in the manufacturing of Crypton fabrics. Other improvements have reduced or eliminated the presence of formaldehyde, PFOAs and PBDEs.

Crypton’s use of renewable energy and carbon offsets, recycling efforts, and the use of technologies that consume less water, energy and packaging, proves their commitment to finding new ways to “go green” and they deserve our consumer support.

Kitty Litter, a basic requirement if you are owned by a cat, has a large impact on Earth. Clay cat litter, both regular and clumping, is the most widely sold litter in the United States. The clay is strip mined, or surface mined, removing the surface layers and mineral deposits leaving behind a depression in the earth stripped bare. Once the vein is depleted, the water and vegetation have been affected.

There are several options to strip mined litters, one of them being Yesterday’s News, which is made from post consumer recycled newspapers. Not only does the product have less of an environmental impact than mined clay litters, but it claims to absorb 300% more liquid and is virtually dust free! Yesterday's News is available in the Cherrybrook retail stores.

Cat waste, even using biodegradable litter, will not degrade, if it sits in a landfill in a plastic bag.

The Cat Genie is an option that uses no litter, only plastic beads which are then sanitized and flushed, resulting in less cat waste in landfills. Additionally, it also frees you from scooping stinky litter.

If you have a dog, you need cleanup, or “Poop” bags. BioBags are 100% biodegradable and certified compostable, when exposed to a natural setting. Made of GMO free corn starch, biodegradable polymer and other renewable resources, BioBags decompose in 10 to 40 days in municipal composting environments. If you are fortunate enough to have access to an “open” or “turned” landfill, it will allow BioBags to decompose at a rate similar to other biodegradable materials in the landfill.

Unfortunately, BioBags, like most products, when exposed to an anaerobic landfill will degrade slowly or not at all. This is because an anaerobic, or air locked, landfill deprives the materials in the landfill of oxygen and prevents the growth of micro-organisms that break down biodegradable materials. The best alternative to “filling up” an anaerobic landfill, is to compost biodegradable materials such as vegetable scraps and yard waste. And, of course, recycling.

If you would prefer to allow your dog’s waste to break down naturally at home, a Doggie Dooley uses natural bacteria cultures and enzymes to reduce dog waste to ground absorbing liquid. Using a Doggie Dooley is neat, clean, convenient, and according to their website, is “An environmentally friendly way to dispose of pet waste”.

Dogs need toys to play with and, let’s face it, we love giving them toys. Eco Plush Toys, a new offering from Aspen, are made with 100% recycled stuffing material on the inside and renewable natural wool on the outside.

We all need to review our habits and the products we use to determine if earth friendly substitutes are available and to apply lifestyle changes where we can. I’ve mentioned just a few products that are available at Cherrybrook that can assist pet owners in making significant ecologically beneficial changes.

2010 marks the 40th Earth Day celebration. We’ve come along way since Senator Nelson announced the first day of awareness to bring environmental issues into the limelight. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go, but the good news is that the original purpose of Earth Day has been fulfilled. Now it’s up to us.


  1. Keep up the good work. Every little bit helps, and education is essential.


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