Category Archives: Email Campaigns

Day 24: Recycled Plastic Litter BoxesThe 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

PetmateLitterBoxGiven the low-tech purpose that litter boxes serve, it’s surprising that they aren’t all made from 100% recycled plastic.  In fact, I could only find one litter box that used recycled materials.  This just seems wrong to me.  I also found a lot of companies greenwashing their litter boxes to claim that they offer eco-friendly litter boxes.

So, here’s where to look for eco-friendly litter boxes.

Petmate

  • I really have to give kudos to Petmate for taking a proactive approach to incorporating a minimum of 25% recycled materials in many of their products.  It’s a great start and as I learn more about the pet industry, I can appreciate how forward-thinking this is in an industry that seems to be lagging in following the green trend.  Petmate offers a dozen different litter boxes in various shapes and sizes to suit your cat — and all of them are made with 25% recycled content.
  • http://petmate.com/Departments/Product-Categories/Cat-Products.aspx

Here’s where NOT to look for eco-friendly litter boxes:

The Litter-Robot

  • You have got to be kidding me that they’re trying to promote this self-cleaning litter box as eco-friendly.  Well, the grey one is made from recycled plastic and they also tout that it’s made in the U.S.A.  However, first, it’s gigantic so it uses a lot more plastic then most boxes.  Second, it has electronics and mechanics that use even more resources than a basic box.  Third, you have to plug this one in.  Just because someone is too lazy to scoop their cat litter, does not justify this as an eco-friendly litter box.  Use a scoop.  That’s eco-friendly.

Kitty’s WonderBox

  • This is another jump on the green bandwagon product.  This litter box is made from recycled paper fibres, but the major problem with it is that it’s disposable.  Promoting it as “biodegradable” is simply  greenwashing.  The company even admits that the inspiration for their disposable boxes was convenience.  “You see, having a very full schedule and not always being present when Spice decided to deposit her gifts in the box, it was not humanly possible at all!

Exquisicat Litter Boxes

  • I called the 1-800 number on their box to ask whether they had a recycled plastic version of their litter boxes.  I was surprised to find that PetSmart customer service answered the call.  It turns out that Exquisicat is PetSmart’s house brand.  The service rep was unable to answer whether there were any plans to make a litter box from recycled plastic and also had no information on what PetSmart was doing to help the environment.  She said she would talk to some people in the company and get back to me.  That was over three weeks ago and I haven’t heard a thing.  I guess there is no green policy.

Van Ness Litter Boxes

  • Van Ness appears to be one of the other major brands making cat litter boxes.  However, I could not find one made from recycled plastic and can’t seem to find any info on the company online.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

  • PetSmart operates over 1000 stores in North America.  That’s a lot of stores that don’t have an eco-friendly policy or green initiative.  Imagine if they did. Send an email to PetSmart asking about their Exquisicat litter boxes as well as their position on green business practices.  Please copy and edit the email below and send it to PetSmart via their contact form: http://www.petsmart.com/helpdesk/index.jsp?display=store&subdisplay=contact&stillHaveQuestion=yes.  Or, alternately, you can call them 24 hours a day at 1-888-839-9638.

THE SAMPLE EMAIL LETTER

I have been a PetSmart customer for many years.  However, like many consumers, I am increasingly concerned about the environment and was wondering what PetSmart is doing to offer more eco-friendly products and introduce more sustainable business practices.  Quite frankly, I don’t see any changes at my local store and this concerns me greatly.  Given the growing demand by consumers for environmentally-friendly products and services, I would expect that PetSmart, as the leading pet retailer in the U.S., would be actively developing sustainable business practices.

I would like to know if a green product policy is currently in the works and what other initiatives and products your company is undertaking to support the environment.  Specifically, I would also like to know if Exquisicat will be making its litter boxes from recycled plastic.  Exquisicat’s competitor, Petmate, is already taking a lead by offering eco-friendly litter boxes made from 25% recycled content.  Until Exquisicat follows suit, I see no reason to purchase this brand.

With many eco-friendly alternatives entering the marketplace, it is becoming increasingly easy for me to change my shopping habits.  Because I prefer to support green businesses, I hope to hear about significant and meaningful changes in PetSmart’s business practices.  However, if your company lacks a cohesive sustainable business strategy, I will continue to shift my spending to companies that actively support green business practices.

Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

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 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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