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