Clean & Green
It’s up to pet retailers to help customers find eco-friendly cleaning products that satisfy their needs.
"It’s not easy being green.” This is a phrase that people in the pet industry can appreciate more than most, but what does it really mean to be “green” when it comes to pet cleaning products, and why should pet stores stock them?
It’s not always obvious what can and should be considered a green cleaning product. The term usually implies the product is all natural, environmentally safe and does not impact the health of the pet or owner. For some, however, being green means going a step further; for them, being green also means the product was manufactured in an eco-friendly way. In some cases, the packaging is bio-degradable, recyclable and/or made with recycled materials. If a product, its manufacturing process or its packaging contains, produces or uses any toxic, non-biodegradable substances, some consumers may not consider it green. Heated debates still go on about this.
Off the Internet
A common problem is that some consumers believe they can make these products at home, using stuff right out of their kitchen. The Internet touts vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda as natural products that can help remove pet stains. While it is true that these ingredients can help remove stains, and they are completely “green” items, they cannot get rid of odors. And as we in the pet industry know, a dog or cat will go back and soil an area over and over again if the odor is not neutralized.
Pet clean-up products must contain some sort of bonding agents or enzymes that completely break down odor molecules. These ingredients can be all natural and eco-friendly, but they are not going to be found in the refrigerator or in cabinets at home. It’s essential for pet owners to buy a cleaning product that includes an odor-neutralizing agent, instead of using something that removes the stain but leaves or covers up the odor. Pets will not be fooled and can still smell their own urine or stool odor molecules among the cloud of fragrance.
Square Peg, Round Hole
Another common mistake customers make is using general-use household cleaning products, whether they’re green or not, to clean up after their pets. These will not get rid of pet waste odors either, no matter how strong they are.
Only products specifically made for breaking down a pet’s urine and stool smell will stop a pet from going to the bathroom in the same area. If a customer complains about a pet peeing in the same place over and over again, find out what they are using. Retailers should familiarize themselves with a variety of options, and they should know which products really work.
Some products change formulations or names through the years and may not work like they used to. This sometimes happens when a pet cleaning product goes “green,” so it’s necessary to test stain- and odor-removing products, whether they are new or reformulated to be more eco-friendly.
Pros & Cons
One argument against green pet cleaners has been that a lot more of the eco-friendly product must be used, as opposed to a traditional cleaning product, to do the job completely. This is important because it goes against the premise that concentrated products require fewer materials and less packaging, making them more eco-friendly. In truth, however, if a dog or cat urinates on carpeting, and the urine gets into the padding or even all the way into the floorboards underneath, then more cleaning product must be used–whether it’s green or not–so it can soak down deep enough to reach all the odor molecules.
Customers shouldn’t just grab any old cleaning product; instead they should look to find one that will not linger in their homes and that was produced in an eco-conscious way. These products have the advantage of being completely nontoxic and yet can still clean, deodorize and sanitize an area just as well, or sometimes even better, than traditional alternatives.
Why should a pet store stock green cleaning products? Does it really matter to the pet owners? Some pet owners don’t care whether a product is eco-friendly or not, as long as it works; but as customers become more educated, the demand for this product category will continue to increase.
Non-toxic, biodegradable, all-natural and eco-friendly pet waste cleaners that successfully remove stains and odors are available. Some even sanitize soiled areas so bacterial, viral and disease-causing organisms are removed. Arguments that green products don’t work as well or are not easily available just aren’t true anymore. Even the argument that green cleaning products are more expensive has become antiquated.
Green products have become such a major category in recent years that the four largest pet trade shows in the United States all have a special area or aisle dedicated to all-natural products. Many of the larger pet clean-up product manufacturers are now changing their formulas to make them more eco-friendly, or they are adding natural products to their line.
It is up to each store to figure out which green cleaning products work best so that they can offer their customers what they want–a product that will help keep their environment clean both on and below the surface. It really can be easy to be green in the pet industry.