Eco-Friendly Pet Beds
Owners and pets alike get better sleep thanks to bed manufacturers’ commitment to innovative environmentally conscious practices.
Every day, there’s a new headline about the effects of climate change on our world. It’s unsurprising then that consumers increasingly want to do their part to make more eco-friendly shopping choices—even for their pets.
“Consumers are making small choices daily that will substantially help the planet from sorting waste to energy/water conservation, and it’s only natural that this would have an impact on the products they purchase as well,” says Bill Parsons, sales manager at Pet Lifestyle and You (P.L.A.Y.). “Customers want to support businesses that share their same values and are actively seeking products that are environmentally and socially responsible.”
With the increased demand for greener products, manufacturers have found ways to decrease the environmental impact of everything from toys to treats. Even the places pets’ rest their weary heads on are getting the eco-friendly treatment.
One of the main ways pet beds are becoming more environmentally conscious are the fillings. Bozeman, Montana-based West Paw was one of the first manufacturers to replace traditional fillings, like foam and cotton, with a material made from recycled plastic bottles in 2008. As of October 2018, the IntelliLoft fabric and filling has kept 15 million non-biodegradable bottles from landfills.
West Paw takes its eco-friendly practices one step further by producing all of its beds in the U.S. “Fewer fossil fuels are used because there is less travel when not shipped from China—materials or finished goods,” explains Spencer Williams, CEO and president of West Paw.
Just because West Paw beds are striving for sustainability doesn’t mean they are willing to compromise quality. In fact, the company’s Heyday beds are the perfect marriage of luxury and practicality; they feature a durable microsuede bottom, super plush top and are filled with IntelliLoft.
San Francisco-based P.L.A.Y. also utilizes post-consumer plastic bottles in the trademarked PlanetFill. The non-toxic, eco-friendly material creates the cushion for all of P.L.A.Y.’s pet beds, including its popular Lounge Bed, Outdoor Bed and Chill Pad lines.
“We feel it is important not only to create sustainable products because the market demands them, but because as a company we care about the environment that we all share, and it is the right thing to do,” explains Parsons. “If we do not do our part to protect the environment, our children and their children may not enjoy what we are able to today.”
This mission extends even to the packaging surrounding P.L.A.Y.’s beds. The company utilizes product tags that are made from paper certified-safe by the Forest Stewardship Counsel—the only forest certification system support by all major environmental groups.
“We also minimize the use of wrapping and other packaging materials whenever possible,” adds Parsons.
In addition to recycled fibers, companies are also boosting their eco-conscious profile by employing natural and organic materials in their pet bed designs. Carolina Pet Company, for example, utilizes natural soy rather than harmful CFC chemicals for the foam inserts in its orthopedic beds. This has reduced the manufacturer’s carbon footprint and overall use of fossil fuels.
The South Carolina-based producer also strives to only partner with suppliers that share its commitment to eco-friendly practices to create its diverse line of super comfortable pet beds.
“We work with a number of suppliers whose processes use natural or recycled content and have performance derived from plants rather than harsh chemicals,” says Penny Stolfe, partner at Carolina Pet Company.
Some manufacturers, like Molly Mutt, are doing away with bed filling altogether in an effort to be more earth friendly.
“The Molly Mutt concept utilizes stuffing from around the home—pillows, blankets, clothes, things that the consumer already has and already carries the scent of the pet and the pack (the people in the home). That’s the stuffing that’s used with our system,” explains Art Simon, co-founder of Molly Mutt.
The Oakland, Calif.-based company’s duvet beds are made from 100 percent cotton canvas with bolsters for water and urine protection. These shells are then filled with homemade padding from up-cycled fabric items in a “stuff sack” (mesh bag) to complete the transformation from cover to customized bed.
Removing filling doesn’t just reduce energy used in the manufacturing process, though. It also diminishes impact on the transportation side.
“We are original members of the Pet Sustainability [Coalition] and they actually did a research project on how sustainable our products are,” says Simon. “Because we take up less space and because we’re so efficient in how we package and move products through the supply chain, they estimated that we’re 70 percent more efficient than the average pet bed.”
The Durability Factor
It’s not just plastic bottles that pet bed manufacturers are keeping out of landfills; many are also working to prevent the beds themselves from ending up in the trash.
“I think what makes us different is just the fact that our beds last so long. They’re so durable that they last the life of the dog,” says Bruce Kelling, founder of Big Shrimpy. “Ultimately, no matter how much recycled content or natural fibers or whatever you have in a dog bed—if it’s not well made, it’s going to the dump.”
For 17 years, Big Shrimpy has been producing high-quality pet beds with eco-friendly materials. The original bed design is still being manufactured today and comes with a three-year limited warranty. The tough outer cover features 400-denier, water-resistant nylon and upholstery-grade polyester for a finish that can stand up to years of wear and tear. Plus, all of the components are machine washable and dryable.
Once pet parents are finally done with a Big Shrimpy bed, they can still keep it out of the garbage by participating in the company’s full circle recycling program.
“They can send back the entire bed to us and we’ll recycle everything but the zipper, including fabric, fiber, logo, labels. Whether it’s to make carpet padding, insulation, those kinds of things,” says Kelling. “As far as I know, we’re the only pet bed manufacturer that offers that.”
Like with any other merchandise, communication with customers is key to success in the eco-friendly bed category.
“Showcasing signage and tangibles that have a clear description of eco-friendly product elements is essential to communicating the value of these types of products to customers,” explains Parsons.
Another crucial tool for articulating the worth of eco-friendly products is a well-educated sales team. Even in a more eco-conscious world, customers will always have questions, such as: What chemicals are used in manufacturing? Are they safe for my pet? How are materials recycled into stuffing? Staff members should be prepared to tell both the story of eco-friendly beds and the story of your store’s commitment to green pet products.
“At the end of the day, retail is about telling a story. The consumer today is going to buy the why much more than they’re going to buy the what. It’s very important for the retailer to be able to stand tall with the products that they represent,” says Simon. PB