Archive for PAWprint Chronicles

Only Natural Pet and Natural Capitalism Solutions

As our loyal readers know, we have been on a search this year to find the perfect partner to help take Only Natural Pet, and then the Pet Industry, to new levels of sustainability. After talking to, and getting proposals from, a wide variety of for-profit and not-for profit organizations…we have found the ideal partner!
Natural Capitalism Solutions is a non-profit group that works with and educates businesses, communities, and governments on the business case for sustainability. NCS was founded ten years ago by Hunter Lovins, who has been working in sustainability for over 40 years. Beyond working and implementing innovative sustainability solutions with clients, NCS also runs sustainability education programs, Hunter inspires and educates millions of people each year through speaking engagements (just take a look at her TEDxMileHigh talk), and NCS boasts an amazing internship program.

In Phase I of our partnership we will focus on showing what organizations within the pet industry can do to increase their sustainability and decrease their environmental impact. This information will be available through an online educational sustainability toolkit called My Pet Sustainability Project that will include the business case for sustainability, what to consider with a supply chain, how to make a building more efficient, how to communicate sustainability, and tracking and regulation information.
On February 19th we will be convening a group of pet supply company CEOs, Founders, and Senior Leaders at Global Pet Expo, the annual pet trade show in Florida. This will be the beginning of our Sustainability Working Group (SWG) that will help and encourage everyone to “Green Up the Pet Industry”.
It all begins with a presentation from Natural Capitalism Solutions CEO Toby Russell that features Only Natural Pet as the ‘case study’ for the process, procedures, and tool kit we are now in the midst of developing.
We will recruit a group of ‘early adopters’ that will have the opportunity to help sponsor and provide key input on Phase II of our development.
Good things ahead!
Happy New Year to you and your furry friends and here’s to a green future for all of us.

Chris

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Only Natural Pet’s Green Team Top 5 Tips

We know that for our customers, caring for the environment comes just as easily as caring for their pets. But with so much “green washing” going on out there, it’s hard to differentiate what’s environmentally responsible and what’s just clever marketing. To get the facts, we asked our Green Team to do a little research and they came up with their “Green Team Top 5 Tips” for raising a green, and most importantly, happy, pet.

  1. Healthy Food Means a Healthy Planet – Feeding your pet a quality diet means a whole lot more than just keeping them healthy… it means you’re keeping the planet healthy as well. Natural pet foods are made without artificial flavors, preservatives and ingredients, and many (like EasyRaw) are made with minimal processing. Not to mention a lot of them are made in the USA or Canada with locally sourced ingredients that use limited amounts of fuel to get them from farm to bowl.
  2. Make Natural Products the Natural Choice – If you’re like most of us here, your pet has an entire cabinet dedicated to them (not to mention their own basket of toys). And when you take a look in there, you can see just how much your pet uses; from supplements and vitamins, to food and treats, everything can add up. That’s why it’s important to check the labels: conventional flea treatments are made from dangerous pesticides, natural flea care is just as effective and gentler on your pet and the environment; for food and treats, skip the box store and go for the natural option made from USA sourced ingredients; natural cleaners work just as well and are less harsh, biodegrade and safe for your pet; and make sure those pet toys are recyclable or made from renewable sources. By buying natural products, you’re doing your part to ensure that not only your pets, but all the future generations of pets, will have happy, fulfilling lives.
  3. Keep it Local – Buying products made in the USA and Canada can do a lot for your pet’s safety and the health of the environment. These foods meet tighter restrictions (especially ones produced in small factories, like “I and love and you”) than other products made overseas, so they’re much safer. Plus, the impact of shipping things on the same continent is much less than freighting them across the ocean. Not to mention you’re helping keep jobs in the USA, which supports your neighbors, and your neighbor’s pets.
  4. The Scoop on Poop – Pet waste is one of the biggest (and most obvious) effects our pets have on the environment. Uncollected dog waste can contaminate local environments and cat litter can collect in landfills. But you can take a few simple steps that will limit the effect your pet’s waste has. Just bag it! Simply by picking up after your dog (preferably in a biodegradable bag), you can keep local water sources clean and prevent the spread of disease. All Litters Are Not Created Equal! Traditional clay litters are strip mined and once they reach the landfill, they’ll never biodegrade. By using a plant based litter (like a plant based litter or walnut based litter) and a biodegradable pan liner, you can guarantee your cat’s waste won’t be here forever.
  5. Be a Fantastic Forever Home – This is the easiest one on the list, but this tip cannot be understated. By keeping your companions safe and healthy, you’re doing more than just enriching their (and your) lives; you’re keeping them off the street. Abandoned pets aren’t only a sad fact of life, they’re also a strain on our local environment. Feral cats can be detrimental to local birds, and if your animal isn’t spayed or neutered, they’ll quickly start adding to the pet overpopulation crisis. Many of these pets enter into the overcrowded shelter system where it’s hard for them to get the care and attention they need. Every time you hear their pitter patter through the house or see their wagging tail at the food bowl, give yourself a pat on the back for giving them a great life, and leaving the world a better place.

The Green Team out on another “Poop Pick-Up” mission!

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LOHAS Forum 2012

Last month I had the pleasure of attending the 16th annual LOHAS Forum in Boulder, CO.  What is LOHAS? It stands for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. This Forum has evolved and expanded from a small sleepy conference in Boulder to a movement that touches and inspires companies and individuals globally. LOHAS provides the context to bring like-minded people together who want to make the world a better place through the business of health and sustainability.

For three full days about 300 folks from around the world participated in Workshops, Lectures, Panel Discussions, Networking Receptions, Classes and Camaraderie.

At Only Natural Pet, our entire company is striving to become more sustainable, both personally and professionally. We not only want this for ourselves and our company…but also for our four legged friends. My goal in attending was to look for ideas, organizations, technologies and people that could help us on that mission.

Some of my favorite sessions included:

  • ‘Make it Personal, Make it Stick: Creating a Culture of Sustainability’. This was a presentation and interactive workshop led by Hunter Lovins, President and Founder of Natural Capitalism Solution. If you’ve never met Hunter, heard her speak or read one of her amazing books…you are in for a treat. I first met Hunter 20 years ago in Aspen, CO when she was co-founding the Rocky Mountain Institute. For kicks she was really into barrel racing at the local Snowmass Rodeo every Wednesday and Saturday night. Boy she could fly. Now she and her organization are totally focused on helping make this a more sustainable planet. In this rousing workshop we learned and shared how leading companies make their sustainability programs ‘sticky’ by creating a personal connection to their employees values. Building on what employees care about, inspiring a commitment to action, and driving participation will create a deeper employee engagement and behavior change throughout all levels of an organization. I had a good time telling the group about the ‘Looking Through a Green Lens’ exercise we did at Only Natural Pet. More on that later.
  • Sustainable Packaging’. At Only Natural Pet we are striving to get as many of our products in as sustainable packaging as possible. But sustainable packaging is a complicated issue with many stakeholders. The lessons of unintended consequences must guide our thinking. It is amazing to me how seemingly simple solutions can lead us down a rat hole. Let’s just look at dog food packaging. The kibble bags need to keep in the nutritious oils so must have an inner material that makes recycling very difficult. These bags are heavy but stack well on pallets. Canned food is in round containers that do not ‘cube’ well. When these are put in cases there is always the diamond shape of wasted space between cans. This leads to more truckloads then if the cans could be square. As of yet, they can’t. However, we use steel cans. Steel is the most easily recycled and reusable materials out there. Why? Because powerful magnets can suck the steel (and only the steel) off of single stream recycling conveyor belts. It needs no hand sorting and little processing. Plus steel is about the only material that is infinitely recyclable. All other materials will degrade over time to the point of being unusable. In this session we heard from Ecocycle, Goodbelly and a sustainable packaging expert on the latest materials and technologies.
  • ‘High Impact Partnerships’. This was about how brands and non-profits can create meaningful progress and brand-value through collaboration on environmental issues. We heard from executives at Patagonia (she loved our PAWprint Chronicles moniker that plays on their Footprint Chronicles. Check it out on Patagonia’s website), New Belgium Brewery, Kleen Kanteen and 1% for the Planet. At Only Natural Pet we are currently contributing to a variety of pet related causes. Are these the ‘best’ ones? Why or why not? What could be better? Better in what way? Lots of good questions…and lots of thoughtful discussion.

I could go on for hours but check the LOHAS website and think about how we can help our pets lead a better Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability………Chris

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Why we pick up poop and why you should too!

One of long standing staples on our journey of sustainability is our “Pick Up Poop” (PUP) outings (take a look at this great Scoop A Doop Poop Video). These started several years ago and blossomed out of our desire to do good for three of our favorite things: the environment, our pets, and Boulder, CO, the community where we live. The Green Team came up with our PUP outings, which fit perfectly into all three of these pillars.

Pet waste can wreak havoc on our shared water sources and picking up after your pet is one of the best things you can do as a guardian to keep our waterways clean. Affectionately called the “Fido Hypothesis” by the researchers who discovered it, dog waste has been proven to increase the amount of harmful bacteria in areas where it’s prevalent. With an estimated 44% of dog owners not picking up after their pooch, parasites and bacteria like Giardia and E. coli can run rampant. Boulder has a saying: “Keep it clean, ‘cause we’re all downstream,” and when it comes to pet waste, it couldn’t be truer.

We’re privileged in Boulder to have miles of trails that we can share with our dogs. From our amazing mountains to our pristine prairies, dogs are a common site on the paths surrounding the city. But at Only Natural Pet Store, we always consider this to be a privilege, not a right. We realize that if pet poop gets out of control, dogs can be disallowed on the trails just as easily as they were allowed on them. That’s one of the best parts about PUP outings. We can show our neighbors that dog owners are conscientious and we can set an example for other pet owners.

By putting in just a little effort (all it takes are some poop bags and some elbow grease), we (and you) are making a big difference. We’re keeping our waterways clean and safe, we’re keeping our neighbors happy, and we’re keeping our dogs out on the trail with us.

Poop Pick Up

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Introducing the PAWprint Chronicles

Welcome to the ‘PAWprint Chronicles’. The folks here at Only Natural Pet have embarked on a Journey and we’d like to start sharing it with you…and ask you to share yours with us. Please.

The stories we tell will be focused on ‘sustainability’ and our efforts to make our company, products and people as environmentally friendly as possible. One of our definitions of sustainability is: “Continually thinking about how to make things better/greener…People, Planet, Profit…then ACT on it!”

When Marty started our company eight years ago, he was determined to make authentic ‘greenness’ a big part of our new enterprise. Most of us had already been on that path for a long time so it seemed only natural to make it a basic tenet here.

And so we began: 100% wind powered, company subsidized bus passes, reuse our shipping boxes, biodegradable packing peanuts, quarterly “Pick Up Poop” at local trails, an active Green Team representing every department in the company and local store, and more.

Today those early efforts are ramping up. Why, because we now have the ‘critical mass’ in our business to make some fun and important things happen. We also have a new team member, Chris, who has ‘sustainability’ as a big part of his job description. He is very experienced and passionate about it. We’re also putting together a new road map for our journey that you’ll hear more about soon.

Our Green Team has now moved from meeting occasionally to meeting twice a month. We also had our first ‘All Company’ meeting where Chris shared his background and vision around this journey. He passed out green lensed sunglasses to all 50 employees and we talked about looking at everything in various shades of green. Funny how a little prop like that can really change one’s perspective.

Green Team PUP pickup

At our next ‘All Company’ meeting we are going to be working on ‘Personal Sustainability Plans’ that each team member will be asked to complete and track progress. We figure that you can’t ask your suppliers and customers to participate if you don’t do it yourself first.

We just finished a five page ‘Sustainability Action Plan’ that has specific baselines and goals. All of these things we will share with you and ask for your feedback and advise to help improve what we are doing.

Our green goals start with each of us individually, improve our company efforts, start tracking our suppliers efforts and move to those who are aligned with us. Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal is to take what we are doing and spread it out into the rest of the pet industry through our trade association and other cool ideas to ‘green up the pet industry’.

This will be a fun, informative and interesting journey. Will you join us as we go forth on our ‘PAWprint Chronicles’?

Only Natural Pet Paw Print

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