Category Archives: Greening the Pet Industry

Day 16: Let’s Green this Pet Catalogue Company — The 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

There’s been an update to this post, please see Day 18 of the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge.

Junk mail seems to never stop. As soon as a catalogue arrives, I set it by the phone to call the 1-800 number to request that my name is removed from their mailing list. The other day, I received a catalogue from Doctors Foster and Smith. They are the largest pet cataloguer in the United States. They carry thousands of products for dogs, cats, birds, horses, fish, reptiles, ferrets, etc.

The catalogue I received was exclusively of cat products. Despite the catalogue being 76 pages, I did not find a single product labelled as eco-friendly. From my own experience, I know that perhaps 3 of the several hundred products listed actually are eco-friendly. However, Doctors Foster and Smith draw no attention to this fact. What was most noticeable, was that there was nothing green about the catalogue other than a lame line on the back saying “Recycle please”. They didn’t even have the recycle logo that we all know, but instead used a couple of cheesy swirly arrows.

The whole idea of catalogue ordering is not particularly eco-friendly, but given the size and reach of this company, it would be significant if they adopted greener business practices and promoted eco-friendly pet products to their customers, who might not normally consider them. Heck, I’d consider it a win if they printed their catalogues on recycled paper with vegetable-based ink or at least used FSC-certified paper.

So, my action for Day 16 of the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge is to write them a very friendly email to encourage them that they’re missing out on some significant green ($$$) by failing to adopt a green policy. Greening the pet industry has to start somewhere so why not with one email? The pet industry has managed to coast under the radar for the most part without too many people pointing out their lack of green policies.

There are many ways to inspire companies to take action. The most visible ones such as protests by PETA and Greenpeace have their value, but having worked for World Wildlife Fund, I firmly believe the most effective changes is from collaboratively working together. Having a business degree, I even more strongly believe that the fastest way to lasting change is the bottom line.

So I drafted an email and am sending it to their customer service department.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

  1. Companies are inspired to change when they see enough consumer demand. That means a letter from you too, not just me. Please copy and edit the email below and send it to: CustomerService@DrsFosterSmith.com.
  2. Cut down the amount of junk mail you receive by requesting to have your name removed from mailing lists through the Direct Marketing Association. Visit their consumer information site at: www.dmachoice.org.

THE SAMPLE EMAIL LETTER

Note: There’s been an update to this post, please see Day 18 of the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge.

I actually heard from the company that they are working towards greener business practices.  Read their comments to this blog entry.

Dear Drs. Foster and Smith,

I recently received a copy of your catalogue, which prompted me to visit your online store. As a prospective new customer, I was very impressed with the breadth of products you carry as well as the excellent prices you offer to consumers. However, I was very surprised to find a complete lack of any eco-friendly pet products despite your very extensive product offerings. Given the growing demand by consumers for environmentally-friendly products and services, I would expect that Doctors Foster and Smith, as the leading pet supply cataloguer in the U.S. with a history of innovation, would be actively developing sustainable business practices.

I would like to know if a green product policy is currently in development and what other initiatives your company is undertaking to support the environment. Given that this is a rapidly growing market segment with only one small niche competitor, this presents a lucrative opportunity for Doctors Foster and Smith to lead the way and also significantly grow your customer base.

I look forward to hearing about any eco-friendly practices currently underway or in development. I prefer to support green businesses and hope to see some significant changes, in which case, you can count me as a customer.

Sincerely,
[YOUR NAME]
[YOUR ADDRESS OR AT LEAST YOUR CITY AND STATE]
[YOUR PHONE NUMBER AND/OR EMAIL ADDRESS]

Note: Giving your address conveys that you are more “legitimate” and not just filling out some random petition.


 

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