Sustainability and environmentalism are hot-button topics. We frequently hear about reducing our carbon footprint and making it a point to look for responsibly sourced products. We think about the safety of the food we consume, the clothing we wear and the toys our children play with. A stroll through your local grocery store will present you with constant reminders, from antibiotic-free milk to organic produce and BPAfree water bottles. But what about the products we buy for our furry friends?
Tests done on hundreds of pet toys, tennis balls, beds, collars and leashes reveal that many contain alarming levels of lead and other harmful chemicals. Testing conducted in 2009 by the Michigan-based Ecology Center, a nonprofit environmental organization that analyzes toxins in children’s toys and other consumer goods, did not test for the presence of every concerning chemical (Bisphenol A, for example), but some key findings are worth noting:
From the more than 400 pet products tested, 45 percent had detectable levels of one or more hazardous toxins, including arsenic, chlorine and bromine. Studies have linked these chemicals to reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, liver toxicity and cancer.
Of the tennis balls tested, 48 percent contained detectable levels of lead. Researchers discovered that tennis balls made specifically for pets were more likely to contain lead than sport tennis balls. The lettering on one pet tennis ball, for example, contained 2,696 ppm of lead and 262 ppm of arsenic, a known human carcinogen. None of the sport tennis balls tested contained any lead.
While one-fourth of all the products had detectable levels of lead, 7 percent of all pet products had lead levels higher than the 300 ppm allowed in children’s toys. Nearly half of the pet collars tested had detectable levels of lead; 27 percent had lead levels that exceeded 300 ppm.
Green Dog Pet Accessories, LLC is a Michigan-based company devoted to protecting our pets as well as our planet. Owner Kelly Jansens launched Green Dog in 2009 when she became frustrated by the chemical content of the toys she was purchasing for her best bud, Bodie.
“Why is lead paint banned, but it’s ok in toys that our dogs actually consume?” Jansens challenged.
Jansens is a marketing professional and specializes in trade shows, showrooms and special events. Through one of her trade shows, she had access to natural fabrics, which prompted her to begin
experimenting with dog leash and toy designs. Jansens’ mother and one of her good friends came on board to help with sewing, and she soon launched a small Etsy shop to sell her products. Her first foray into the green market included leashes and toys made from responsibly sourced material, including hemp and recycled fire hose.
In 2013, Jansens added an all-natural cleaning solution to the product line. Many traditional cleaning products contain harsh chemicals, which can be especially troublesome for dog owners.
“Your dog is pretty much walking barefoot through your house,” Jansens said.
Add to that the likelihood of a dog licking the floor or their paws and the potential of ingesting chemicals becomes quite apparent.
Over the years, additional complimentary cleaning and grooming solutions have joined the product line; all-natural and eco-friendly pet urine eliminator, skunk shampoo and even pet perfume are available. Jansens’ sights are set on adding skunk shampoo wipes to her line, which are a fantastic portable option for families who enjoy camping with their dog.
Jansens’ commitment to sustainability and responsible sourcing is apparent in everything she makes. “I found that making and testing Green Dog products myself was the number one way to guarantee that each product is the very best for your pet and the safest for our environment,” Jansens said. “Even the packaging I use is recycled.”
Next time you are in need of cleaning or grooming products, consider the safety of your pet and the environment. Find Jansens’ Green Dog products online at www.GoGreenDogGo.com.
Beth McEwen, owner of Mind Your Manners Dog Training, has been working with dogs and their families for almost 20 years. Learn more at mindyourmannersdogs.com.