We are now living in ‘The Plastic Age’. It seems like everything is made of this non-biodegradable material – from tiny pieces of food packaging to the walls of aeroplanes. And, this includes the toys that you are buying for your dog. Plastic is versatile, meaning that its uses are infinite. It is for this reason – along with the fact that its production is cheap – that more and more plastic is being produced every day, despite the awareness of its destruction to the planet. There many ways to become a sustainable dog owner, and buying eco-friendly toys, free from plastic, is an easy step to make.
What is the problem with plastic?
There are many issues with the world’s obsession with plastic. Mostly, it is that so much of it is single-use (40% of plastics produced each year is used only once). This vast quantity of plastic is deposited into the oceans; strangling animals, ruining coastal habitats and poisoning wildlife with its chemicals. Another issue is the mircoplastic. Plastics break down into microplastic which end up in the water that we and our dogs drink. The chemicals in microplastic are extremely harmful if ingested.
Can’t we recycle plastic? It takes a huge amount of energy to recycle plastic. It is also expensive. So, less developed countries, who are most affected by plastic pollution, cannot afford to treat plastic properly and sustainably. This explains the astonishing fact that only 9% of plastic is being recycled. Landfill is an ever-worsening issue, with plastic being a major contributor. So, we must decrease our consumption to ensure that we are not playing a part in this epidemic.
Are plastics bad for our health?
It is more than the environment that is affected by the use of plastic in toys. When your dog is chewing, some of the material is inevitably swallowed. The problem with this is that there are harmful chemicals inside the toys. An example of this is BPA (bisphenol A). Dog toys should all be free of this. There has been evidence that BPA affects the reproductive systems of animals. More data is needed to be sure about the other risks this chemical has to animals and humans. But, why take the risk? Plastic dog toys also contain phthalates, which are also associated with fertility issues.
And, it’s not just the chemicals of plastic dog toys that are problematic. If a toy is made of hard plastic, the dog may be doing damage to their gums when chewing and the throat if swallowed. Soft toys often contain a plastic filling which is often ingested and leads to digestive issues.
What are the options for sustainable dog toys?
Choosing sustainable rubber is a great eco-friendly option. The rubber in Beco Pets’ sustainable dog toys is naturally tapped from the tree. This means they are not produced in mass-tree rubber farms and therefore have a small negative impact on the environment.
When rubber is tapped sustainably, it still maintains its strong, durable qualities. Hence, it is still able to put up a fight with your dog during their playtime! And, we are all about choosing long-lasting toys as it means fewer end up in landfill. This also minimises production emissions and packaging waste! Because this rubber is natural, there is no harm in your dog consuming small quantities as they chew!
There are other natural materials to choose from which are great sustainable swaps. Unfortunately, ropes that your dog loves to chase and fetch are often made up of plastic. An alternative option is to choose a rope made from hemp. Hemp is more sustainable for a myriad of reasons: few chemicals are needed to create materials from the plant, it is bright in colour so does not need to be bleached, and it very efficient at absorbing Co2 from the atmosphere. Beco has a range of eco-friendly dog toys that contain hemp rope. You could keep it simple and choose a basic rope with a double knot, or go for the playful hemp rope tiger.
There are toys available that are made from recycled plastics. If this is the case, it means that the toy has saved plastic from going into oceans, therefore protecting the wildlife. It also reduces the production of more plastic. Beco sells strong dog toys made of old and recycled plastic water bottles, giving this wasteful raw material a second life – and one that your dog will enjoy for a long time. This is because of the durability – the toys are double sewn with two layers of cloth.
When you are buying your next dog toy, have longevity in mind. Instead of contributing to the fast fashion epidemic, choose a durable option that your dog will be able to enjoy for a long time. So, choose high-quality materials that will withstand the teething, chewing and fetching of your pup.
So, do some research and check the materials are sustainable, high quality and will last long (it may be helpful to look at some reviews for this).
To summarise, look out for toys without PVC, plastics, dyes or toxics. Instead, look for durable, safe, high-quality toys that are made from natural materials. If you follow these guidelines, your dog is bound to have a healthy and sustainable playtime!