Our Journey so far..

We are extremely lucky if a dog toy lasts a month! Roly loves to chew and, thankfully, takes to chewing toys rather than our furniture (although our utility room walls are a little traumatised)! We have thrown out so many toys in the past 10 months it's unbelievable! These have mainly been cheap soft, squeaky toys, but there have been rope toys and nylon bones. The saddest part about these toys being destroyed, is that they aren't recyclable and are being sent to landfill.

Roly at 3 months old with one of her unicorn soft toys that was eventually destroyed.

We decided enough was enough, these toys are incredibly wasteful. We no longer want to buy anything that will be destroyed quickly or is not environmentally friendly. With this in mind, we have ruled out buying new soft toys, and the soft toys that were bought previously will be repaired until no longer safe to do so. We now have a pile of torn toys at the top of our stairs, away from Roly's reach, waiting to be stitched and face round 2 of doggy warfare. Almost like a dog toy hospital wing!

Toys that we will be buying from now on, will be tough or made from sustainable products. I'm always dubious about tough toys and will inspect them carefully as we have previously had "tough" toys that lasted less time than a £2 squeaky hot dog from Pets at Home! We do however have a favourite tough toy, which is the Bamboo Combat Big Kahuna that we got in a subscription box. I haven't been able to find this toy listed on UK websites for sale. We've had this toy for over a month and there is minimal tear to it! Contrary to the name though, it is not made from bamboo but polyester fibres. It might not be made from sustainable materials but it is lasting! Another toy we have received from our subscription box is the Naturespaws Bamboo Fibre Bone. We previously bought Roly nylon dental bones but after this I think we will be sticking to the bamboo alternative. Bamboo is a sustainable resource and most bamboo products can be composted, although, they will take longer to decompose than most items in a household composter. Some sources say that it is safe for dogs to ingest bamboo but we will be keeping a careful eye on Roly and the bone.

A treat dispensing hedgehog has been a longer lasting tough toy.

We've found a couple of companies that are now making sustainable toys. Green and Wild make dog toys from jute, Smug Mutts make toys from beech and hemp and Beco make toys from natural rubber, hemp and recycled plastic. We will be looking at buying toys from Green and Wild and Smug Mutts in the future but we recently bought toys from Beco for Roly's birthday.

We bought the recycled soft elephant, the rubber hoop on rope and the rubber ball on rope and spent around £25 in total. This price is similar to what we have spent on toys in the past, so we thought it was pretty reasonable. The products arrived quickly and in recyclable packaging, although I'm not sure there was a need for added brown paper in the box (the same stuff Amazon use). Roly has since had the toys for 2 weeks and the hoop on the rope has been the best success, with dirt being the only obvious signs of use. The ball on the rope had an accident after about 10 minutes with the rope starting to fray in the middle. We thought that it would then mean Roly would chew the whole way through which she has done previously with rope toys, but surprisingly, the rope is still intact and not showing any further signs of splitting. There is a guarantee with the rubber rope toys, which we still need to contact Beco about. The elephant is currently in the "hospital wing" after surviving a week and a half. There is a small puncture in one of the legs. The ears and the tusks are also diminishing in size as Roly has ripped bits off. On reflection, we probably should have known that tusks and ears would not last, as anything that can be pulled off a toy will be with Roly. We probably should have chosen something with less tearable bits, such as the starfish Beco sell.

All in all, we have been impressed with Beco's toys. The rope toys seem to be really well made and I think the ball on rope may have just been a weak piece of rope. The elephant lasted longer than other soft toys, and at least we know that no new materials were used to make the toy, making it slightly more guilt free when it comes to having to discard it.

We are excited for testing new toys in the future and discovering more environmentally friendly dog toy options. Are there any companies we should be checking out? Then please let us know!

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Updated: Jun 27, 2020

Dogs have always been a part of my life. I was born in to a family of dog lovers and have been dog crazy for as long as I can remember. My parent's first dog, Petra, was the most patient dog and I was able to learn the basic skills for looking after a dog from a young age because of this. After Petra, there was Hollie the Golden Retriever and then Max the Springador. So it was only a matter of time before we invited a four legged pal into our own house. We were married 2 months before Roly came home on 31 August 2019.

My sister and I with our first dog, a lab x collie called Petra.

Within the first few months of Roly coming home, I was struck by how many puppy pads and poo bags we went through and how these were all going straight to landfill. Paddy and I grew up at a time when climate change was beginning to be taught in schools and remember learning in Primary School to reduce, reuse and recycle, buy compostable packaging and how to reduce your carbon footprint. At that time though, it never occurred to me that how we cared for our pets could have an impact on the earth.

Roly at 2 months old exploring the back garden.

Even though I was troubled by the amount of waste we were producing with Roly, it took some time for me to realise that I could do something about that. It wasn't until I stumbled upon compostable poo bags in TK Max that I really decided to leap in to action. Since then we have made some small changes to what we buy for Roly and how we care for her. Roly can't choose for herself what we necessarily buy, but why should she not be able to make an impact on climate change? It is therefore up to us to help her make these changes. We aren't perfect, so will definitely slip up at times, but as long as the majority of what we do is helping make a difference, we will be happy!

We are still seeking to make changes where we can and thought we would share our journey in making Roly an eco-friendly, green dog.

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