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.

Day 14: Shop Local Businesses for Eco-friendly Cat Products — The 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

If you read Day 13 of the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge, you’ll know that after spending about an hour looking for online pet stores devoted to selling eco-friendly cat products, I didn’t find too many options. I couldn’t find a single store that was exclusively for cats, featured only green, natural or sustainable products and that had an emphasis on local and smaller businesses. I proposed it would be a good idea for someone to make one and perhaps because it was late at night, I thought to myself, why not?

So I’ve spent a few hours scouring Amazon for eco-friendly, natural and green cat products to bring you the Green Little Cat Store. Amazon provides an amazing way for smaller companies to reach large audiences at a relatively low cost. Thus, I figured that I could probably find some of those ma/pop businesses that are dedicated to environmental causes. I just started adding cat products and hope to find more eco-friendly gems, especially since this is a growing market.

Feel free to window-shop for ideas or inspiration. I’m a proponent of recycle, reuse and reduce, so before you decide to buy, take a moment to think about whether the product is really necessary or if you can come up with a creative solution from stuff you have on hand. If you find you need to do some shopping, I invite you to check out the Green Little Cat Store.

Day 1: Contact Your Cat Food CompanyThe 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

Food is a very complicated subject, yet one that is worth the effort because your cat eats every day. Assuming a cat eats 4 oz. of cat food per day, multiplied by 365 days and that’s 91.25 pounds of cat food a year. Multiply that by 60 million cats (number of cats in American households) and you get about 5.5 BILLION pounds of cat food EACH year.

I’ve tried to switch Furball to organic food, but most of the available offerings are of the organic chicken variety. Being the typical cat, he’s fussy and doesn’t care for the chicken only flavours. As well, since he had a bout of pancreatitis two years ago as well as some bladder issues, food switches seem to upset his delicately balanced system.

However, what I can do, is find out where his current food comes from and encourage the company to source their ingredients locally, manufacture locally and introduce organic ingredients wherever possible. Furball eats the Pinnacle brand by Breeder’s Choice. Their website is www.pinnaclecat.com and the toll-free number is 1-800-255-4286.

Just tried dialling, but was asked to leave a message. Must have something to do with most people still being on holidays. Ok, I’ll try again on Monday. I’m also going to send an email.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION TODAY!

In the mean time, here’s what you can do. Pull out your pet’s food, look on the bag for a website or 1-800 number. Plan to call on Monday or to send an email right now to tell the manufacturer that locally made and sourced food with organic ingredients is important to you.

Here’s some text you can copy and modify for your email. Do it now, or you’ll get busy and forget. After the pet food recall a couple of years ago, isn’t your Kitty worth this small effort to ensure her health and safety?

TEXT FOR AN EMAIL YOU CAN SEND TO YOUR PET’S FOOD MANUFACTURER

Hello,

As a loyal customer of [PUT YOUR CAT FOOD BRAND HERE] for [LIST YEARS YOU'VE BEEN USING THEIR PRODUCT] years, I wanted to let you know that I am very concerned about where my pet’s food is manufactured as well as the quality of the ingredients used. This is from a health and safety perspective as well as a desire to support companies that implement greener business practices.

I would appreciate it if you could please let me know where my pet’s food is manufactured in terms of the ingredients and the processing. Given the ongoing safety issues of overseas ingredients, I would prefer that the food I feed my pet is sourced and manufactured in [YOUR COUNTRY HERE]. This would greatly allay my concerns about safety as well as reduce the environmental impact of transporting pet food such a great distance. If your food is locally made, that’s amazing. If not, what is your company doing to move in this direction?

In addition to where my cat’s food is made, I am also concerned about the types of ingredients used. I have begun eating organic food myself and I want my pet to also have this benefit. Are there any plans to create an organic line of [YOUR PET FOOD BRAND HERE] or to introduce more organic ingredients?

Finally, I have been changing my purchasing habits to support businesses that implement sustainable practices and take a proactive approach to reducing their environmental impact. I was wondering what [YOUR PET FOOD MANUFACTURER HERE] is doing to adopt greener business practices.

Switching food brands is not something I take lightly. However, because I feel so strongly about these issues, I will change to a different brand if I feel your company is not moving forward in a progressive manner. I eagerly await your response and look forward to hearing how [YOUR PET FOOD MANUFACTURER] is changing to meet the growing market support for socially responsible companies.

Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME HERE]

[INCLUDE YOUR ADDRESS IF YOU'D LIKE]


 

Green Little Cat is the only blog that's all about eco-friendly ideas for cats and cat lovers. This blog is a labor of love, created by Holly Tse, author of Make Your Own Cat Toys.
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