In the UK we spend on average £1,150 a year (or £95 a month) on our pets. The pet accessory industry is pretty huge – expected to exceed £900million by 2021-2022! That’s 12-14% of the overall pet products market. Pet shops are ever seeking more and more novel or fashionable products to stimulate consumer demand. And that’s really the only need that these toys fill: the pockets of big business. And the worst thing is, all this unnecessary consuming depletes our planet’s resources and creates waste.
It’s true that many of us reached for our pets to combat the isolation felt so strongly during the pandemic, and that many those pets have become companions in place of humans, but do you really need to spend on your pet to show them that you love them? Pet shops want you to buy, buy, buy! But your pet only really wants you.
How can I pamper my pet without burdening the planet?
Why not look around you? Enjoy the beautiful places that are on your doorstep with your pet. Dogs love nothing more than a run around in nature. If it’s safe, there’s no livestock or ground-nesting birds, and your dog re-calls reliably, why not let them off the lead for a gallop-about? There’s lots of fun to be had taking in the sniffs and sights of a park or footpath (don’t forget your biodegradable poop bags 😊. If your furry friend is of the feline variety, why not join your kitty in the sunny spot in the garden and laze in it together. Life is so relaxing at cat-speed!
Bring your cat a dry, brown pinecone or two home from a walk. They’ll love batting them about. The texture is great for clawing and they make a fun rattle too – just make sure they are fully dry and not sappy.
For dogs it is slightly trickier. It’s true that dogs love a stick but did you know that sticks are responsible for a huge number of canine veterinary admissions each year? Sticks can become stuck into the soft roof of the mouth, damage the larynx as well as cause infections from splinters left unnoticed. Injuries commonly happen when a thrown stick lodges in the ground and the dog jumps onto it to ‘catch’ it. Stick injuries can even be fatal. Have we convinced you yet? Instead, why not take a favourite ball out with you on walkies? It doesn’t need to be new or pretty, just strong and long lasting. There is a place for pet accessories, just don’t believe the hype. An old faithful ball or frisbee is miles better than 100 faddy toys.
Homemade toy ideas:
- Raid your recycling bin and repurpose an old cereal box. Hide some treats
inside and fasten up the top for your pooch to destroy!
- Knot an old towel for use as a tug toy.
- Freeze some boiled or steamed sweet potato and watch your pooch have fun licking and licking – vegan doggy gelato 😊
- Empty cotton reels scatter and roll all over the place enticingly for kitties.
- Let your cat play with your old dressing gown cord – you know they want to 😊
It’s fun to treat your pet. Just maybe spare a thought for how we can all do this in a plastic-free, zero-waste way.
Always supervise your pet with any toy and remove at first signs of wear or damage.
Feature photo by Stainless Images