So today I'm taking a little break from the dog toy series, whilst I wait to hear back from the manufactures and suppliers that I contacted.
Instead this week I've had a go at making my own bird feeders for the garden. It was a lot of fun and even though it didn't take very long you could easily make a great activity session out of it.
If your children are over 2 years you will be able to have fun getting them involved in this and then have the added bonus of seeing the birds use them.
For this particular feeder I used a jar of smooth peanut butter that needed to be used as it was approaching its end date, some toilet tubes (always so handy, they never make it to the recycling bin in our house!), some mixed wild bird seed and some string.
The method is pretty simple:
1 - Pour some seed on a plate
2 - Apply a generous and fairly even coating to the outside of the toilet roll
3 - Roll the peanut butter covered toilet roll in the seed and pat it on firmly getting a really solid coating.
4 - Thread the string through and hand it up outside for the birds.
One of the things I love most about this method is that after its all been used up, what's left over can be composted, so there's no waste.
Different birds like different kinds of seeds so try doing some with just sunflower hearts or nijer seed or even crushed peanuts.
I had hoped to get some pictures of the birds at my feeding station but alas they waited until I sat down before a mob of pigeons descended.
The key to feeding wild birds, even if you don't have a garden (I have a first floor patio) is to be consistent and to keep your feeders and drinkers clean.
I'll be posting some of my other wild bird feeding creations on my Twitter page you follow me @RandR_Pet
If you give this is try, or have any other ideas please drop them in the comments, I'd love to see them and I'll be back next Friday with another blog.
This Post is the second part of my blog from last week 'The Magic of tidying - Your Dogs Toy Box' where I went through my dogs toy box and did a full de-clutter and clean.
After going through all the toys I was left with an almost equal amount of toys that are no longer fit for purpose.
And there in lies my problem. most pet owners would probably throw a single toy that had reached it end of its usefulness in the bin, which will end up in a landfill. Truthfully ignorance would be bliss. But I know that these toys, which are a mix rope, plush and rubber will not simply biodegrade. They may brake down into smaller and smaller pieces but they will remain in the landfill for years. Knowing that made me feel really uneasy about chucking them in the bin, so into the shed the box went and so began my journey to find a way to avoid the landfill.
So far this journey has be long, tedious, often times confusing and contradictory and really frustrating! Surely it should not be so difficult to find out a way to dispose of dog toys (or any product for that matter) in a way that would mean they don't end up in a landfill?
My research began with internet searches and phone calls to suppliers and one of the UK's biggest pet retailers. During which Pets at Home kept me on hold for 15 minuets of my life before I was able to speak to someone who then called my local store; which I could have done myself if it wasn't for the fact that I wanted to know about the company as whole and not just one store..... and breathe.
Being such a large supplier of the products that I'm looking into; I thought that as a company Pets at Home might be part of, or be aware of a scheme that enabled dog owners to hand in old, damaged toys for recycling but no, not even a clue as to what I was asking.
Now let me just make clear that in this case I am talking about toys that are no longer fit purpose and are therefor not suitable or safe to be donated to charities. Pets at Home stores do have collection bins for donations of toys, food, bedding ect.
I did check out a company that I have read about before called TerraCycle. They seem to recycle or re-purpose just about anything and sure enough they have a collection scheme for pet products including toy, bowls, grooming items and even collars and leads, but there is a catch, a rather large £130.40 catch.
You see at the moment the scheme doesn't have a Sponsor company to support the cost of drop off points and collections (this is the information I was given when I called and asked them about it) so the only method currently available is to purchase one of their zero waste boxes for Pet products. Which starts at the lofty price of £130.40 for a box that measures just 20cmx25cmx46cm.
Imagine if every time you purchased a toy for your dog you also thought about the cost of eventual disposal. Maybe we should all be thinking with that mindset before we buy our pet products.
TerraCycle estimates that their small box can hold 55 units of waste, that equates to £2.37 per item to dispose it. At the moment most of us don't have the sort of money laying around plus a box that size wouldn't even hold all the items from this one de-clutter.
At the moment all this falls to you and me the consumer. It has become very clear to me that manufacturers and suppliers are taking little to no responsibility for the end stage of the products they are producing and selling.
Some of you might say, why don't you buy biodegradable toys if it's that important to you? And my answer will be "well I will NOW, but that doesn't deal with the issue that I have NOW"
My point being that it shouldn't be so difficult to avoid landfill. There are companies that make and produce biodegradable pet products and as a small retailer myself I feel I must also start to be accountable for the products I sell.
We all have the power to choose where we spend our money but it's equally true that you buy whats available, I strongly feel that suppliers need to be more transparent about and responsible for the toys they produce and sell. At the moment it seems to be the case that once you have bought it, it's your problem.
So as you may have guessed the box of old toys is still in my shed. The journey is not yet complete. Over the next few weeks, I'll be contacting retailers and suppliers to see what they have to say.
If you have any companies you think I should speak or any thought and ideas about what to do with old dog toys please comment below, or send me tweet @RandR_Pet
Like loads of people all over the world, I too have discovered the joy of tidying up with the KonMari method. Now, I haven't gone through the whole process for myself but this week I decided to apply some Marie Kondo's techniques to tackle my dogs toy box.
Like many dogs my two love toys, they like chasing them, chewing them, pulling, tugging and skinning them. My jack Russel, Ella has an obsession with balls and will make you play fetch over and over and over. Mim, my Yorkie is a dreaded stuffing eater!
They do have their favorites and will continue to play with the left over skins but it does get to the point when the box no longer contains anything that resembles what they were to begin with.
It's also a chance to give all the toys a good clean. If you can't safely clean a toy then you may want to dispose of it after it's been played with. Of course if you've read my blog before you will know that I'm not a big fan of waste and as I found during this process, trying to dispose of dog toys without them going to landfill is a challenge that most owners wouldn't tackle.
The first thing I did was to let the dogs outside so that I could put the toy box in the living room with out getting them all excited. If I had allowed the dogs to decided what toys "Sparks Joy" we would have to keep everything!
So this our dogs toy box, as you can see there are a load of them! We a have a varied selection, I also have a an empty box which I will be using to separate the toys when I'm done.
You can scroll through the photos to get an idea of my method.
After going through all the toys I took the keep pile in the box and washed all the toys and the box.
I just used hot soapy water and a scrubber (not the same one I use for the dishes!) to wash all the toys. Now I didn't have many plush toys but if you do you could put them through the washing machine (if you do this I would recommend that you put them in a wash bag).
After washing, I left them on the side to air dry. I was actually really grossed out by how clean they looked! It just goes to show how dirty they really were!
Once all the toys were dry it was just a case of putting them away.
I decided not to let the dogs have access to all the toys all of the time, using another box inside the toy box to separate them.
Now I just had to take out the box of old toys, but as I should have said at the beginning, you should probably do a quick whip round before you start shorting or may have a similar experience to me as I detail in the slide show below!
So this is definitely something that I'm going to start doing more often, it didn't really take all that long but next week I'll follow up with the fate of the discarded toys!
Please comment below if you have given this a go, I'd love them to see them!