Re-making the Pet Bed
As going green becomes mainstream, reusing unwanted materials to create unique pet products allows manufacturers to become creative – and pet parents to sleep soundly.
Photo courtesy of P.L.A.Y.
Conservation is at the forefront of many consumers’ minds. With an estimated five trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans, and climate change taking center stage in global discourse, mainstream America is addressing the need for sustainable solutions to the world’s growing pollution problem. This includes pet-owning consumers who are using their spending power to make their voices heard, while demanding quality and comfort for their pets, and manufacturers that are heeding the call by reducing, reusing and recycling.
When shopping for eco-friendly pet beds, consumers wish to not only promote a healthy world, but a comfortable, safe environment for their animals. Using sustainable manufacturing practices and recycled materials are important, but the pet industry must also create beds that contribute to a healthy home. Using waterproof cover materials and a filling made from recycled plastic bottles, Cycle Dog finds alternate uses for waste, but this was not the brand’s only goal.
“We created our Barrier Beds to solve the problem of bacteria and bed mites living in our dog beds,” says Lanette Fidrych, president of Cycle Dog. “Humans change their sheets on a weekly basis, and we know how dirty bedsheets can become if not changed regularly. By contrast, most pet owners never wash their dog’s bed, or wait until the bed smells too pungent to keep in the same room.”
Maintaining a healthy home environment through the use of hygienic, easily cleaned products is also the concern of Molly Mutt co-founder Art Simon. Offering indoor and outdoor beds, the company designed eco-friendly products that address the issues of the setting in which they are used, but also withstand the demands of sanitary pet care.
“We use a polyester for the outdoor product,” says Simon. “It is a bed where if a dog is muddy or they drool, it will protect the filling very well. People take them wherever they go, and they are easy to hose off. [Our] indoor beds are manufactured using true reactive dye, which bonds to the cotton. It will look great after being washed over and over again. Durability is huge to us.”
As for Molly Mutt’s filling, it too affords easy cleanup. After purchasing a Molly Mutt duvet and bolster, pet parents simply fill the products with soft, unwanted items, such as clothes or linens. Rather than discarding old clothing, pet parents create their own bed by recycling items that are cleaned with a regular load of laundry.
Consumers who seek eco-friendly pet beds often feel responsible for making educated, conscientious purchasing decisions. With this responsibility, pet parents are likely to research how a manufacturer sources materials and creates products. Unless a company can live up to its claims of manufacturing eco-friendly pet beds, consumers will look for an alternative created by a different maker. By utilizing sources that parallel the company’s mission of sustainability, West Paw Design approaches eco-friendly pet-bed manufacturing with a strong foundation, according to Spencer Williams, owner and president.
“West Paw Design seeks out vendors who place the same premium on quality and safe materials as we do,” he says. “In many cases we are able to work with U.S.-based vendors who share our values for creating the safest pet products that are also durable and beautiful. Oftentimes, this means that our vendor partners have already received an Oeko-Tex certification on a material we are interested in purchasing.”
Sourcing Sustainable Materials
As technology affords instant access to product sourcing and manufacturing information through a simple online search or smartphone barcode scanning app, a company’s practices and any conflict with a consumer’s values become available immediately. Remaining responsible and transparent is crucial to manufacturer and retailer success.
“We spent a lot of time and effort on procurement, engineering and testing, in order to find an optimal balance between comfort, functionality and durability for our outdoor beds,” says Lisa Hisamune, associate director of sales at P.L.A.Y. “Like all P.L.A.Y. beds, our outdoor bedding uses PlanetFill, our trademarked eco-friendly filler that is made from 100-percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles ...108 non-biodegradable bottles are saved from entering the landfill for every large outdoor bed made.”
With every successful advancement toward eco-friendliness, pet-product manufacturers can’t rest on their laurels; they must maintain the momentum by working to offer products that are fully green.
Consumers once thought that buying green products meant decorating a home with drab furnishings, dashing the hopes of design-conscientious pet parents who also felt responsibility to preserve the Earth. Today, pet-bed manufacturers emphasize environmental dedication and construction through expertly crafted designs, using quality and, at times, luxurious fabrics.
“Considering pet beds for indoor or outdoor use is like choosing a couch for your home versus patio,” explains Hisamune. “They can both be well-made and supportive for pets, but indoor beds can utilize the most luxurious texture among fabrics options, such as velboa and micro-suede, whereas makers of good outdoor beds have to consider weather elements.”
The stigma surrounding eco-friendly products, which held that such items couldn’t coexist with style, has been thoroughly dispelled by the industry’s innovative companies that have learned to blend sustainability with alluring design. Companies are now designing products that are not only green and stylish, but boast durability, such as West Paw’s most recently launched product, Montana Naps.
“This bed is a great combination of eco-friendly comfort and home décor friendly style,” says Williams. “They were designed to go anywhere, as they’re lightweight and easily transportable. Additionally, these Montana Naps are beautiful, so they look great in crates and cars and townhouses and tents.”
Being authentically green and design savvy requires manufacturers to think deeply about the products they are releasing. Seamlessly blending sustainable production, durability and allure is definitely not easy, but manufacturers realize that their investment sets them apart from the pack.
“We developed the fabrics specifically for our application; they are not off the shelf in any way,” according to Fidrych. “Our top materials are waterproof and will outlast generic plush materials found on most beds.”
The specific niche category of eco-friendly pet beds has been built upon businesses with a mission of enhancing the lives of pet parents and animals, and sustaining a healthy planet. Taking their business personally by becoming involved in many different areas of production, manufacturers such as Molly Mutt co-founder Molly Mundt are fully aware of their clients’ desire for chic, green products and retailers’ need for an attractive inventory to fulfill the demand for eco-friendly pet products.
“She has a talent for choosing colors,” says Simon about Mundt. “At Molly Mutt, we didn’t want to have a business using off-market textiles. We wanted something with design built into it. We are trying to build something that looks great in a customer’s home and draws people to in-store displays.”
As consumers continue to view pets as family members, they will feel greater responsibility to ensure animals are safer, healthier and happier, leading to reliance on responsible pet-product manufacturers and retailers as eco-friendly bed resources. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) projects 2016 spending on supplies, including pet beds, will soar to nearly $14.98 billion. Retailers must not only offer green products, but to receive the greenlight from consumers, they must become familiar with manufacturers’ methods of design, materials and production of eco-friendly pet beds.