The Happy Beast - Blog - Sustainability

Easy Tips for Low-Waste Living

“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”  – Anne Marie Bonneau

This year, in honor of Earth Day, we’re once again taking the opportunity to review our sustainability efforts and find ways to improve. The planet needs us and there are lots of ways that we can help. The problems and solutions can often seem overwhelming and unattainable. However, the reality is that small changes in our awareness, attitudes, and lifestyles can have huge impacts on our environment and make a world of difference. Movements start with people (and now our pets!), and we want to encourage everyone to join us in our efforts to reduce waste and become more sustainable in everything we do. Because the choices we make matter.

We’re also working on a new Sustainability page on our website, which will help keep track of our efforts and share everything we’ve learned to date. We’ve also a compiled a list of resources that have helped us reduce our waste and make choices that put the planet first. We are nowhere near perfect, but try to make  progress everyday, and are encouraged by all the wonderful information and resources available on low-waste living.

From a business perspective, we have a lot of exciting goals for 2019 and beyond. So far this year we have:

  • Stopped using printed receipts in favor of emailed receipts
  • Stopped offering single-use shopping bags in favor of reused boxes or reusable shopping bags
  • Offset 100% of our electricity use with Xcel Energy’s Windsource program
  • Continued to expand our partnership with Eco-cycle and Terracycle in responsibly disposing of our customers’ plastic pet food packaging.
  • Significantly expanded our bulk food and treat options, including The Beast Feast, our own line of dehydrated treats for cats and dogs.
  • Started working with the City of Lafayette and Boulder County to implement dog waste composting at The Great Bark Dog Park.

Stop by the store during Earth Week for special deals and stay tuned for our “Sustainability” page for a full list of our existing efforts and a list of our friends and partners. For now, we’re including a list below of some of our favorite sustainability-related websites and experts.

Lastly, we always welcome your input and commitment to helping us achieve our sustainability goals – let us know if you ever have any questions or ideas on how we can keep getting better. Happy Earth Day everyone!

 

OUR FAVORITE SUSTAINABILITY WEBSITES

A Greener Beast

We’re preparing for a greener 2019 and we can achieve our sustainability goals with your support:

  • Beginning January 1, 2019, we will be eliminating paper shopping bags in the store and encouraging the use of reusable tote bags and boxes instead. If you have a stockpile of reusable tote bags at home, please consider donating them to our bag “lending tree.”
  • To decrease packaging, we will be offering more treats in bulk. We are also requesting our vendors to use less plastic and styrofoam.
  • When selecting beef products, we are choosing more grass-fed and finished sources. Anderson’s Natural Pet Food, The Beast Feast, and Answers all use responsibly sourced beef.
  • Members of The Happy Beast Team are working diligently at home to reduce plastic waste and make more informed decisions as consumers. Check out some of our favorite resources:

Happy Earth Day: Celebrating the Lafayette Green Business Program

In honor of Earth Day, we’re thrilled to announce The Happy Beast has received gold certification as part of the 2017 Lafayette Green Business Program!

This is our third year in the program, and along with 93 other Lafayette Green Businesses, is one of the ways we work to exemplify the best of Lafayette, help shape a vibrant green economy, and champion a more sustainable future for our customers and residents. Overall, the sustainability upgrades Lafayette businesses have made are saving over $50,000 per year on utility bills and are equivalent to taking 100 cars off the road.

Click here for a full list of participating Lafayette businesses and remember to support them by shopping locally.

At The Happy Beast, we are extremely proud to achieve the highest award for waste diversion, water conservation, and energy efficiency, and we couldn’t have done it without our amazing customers! You can read more about our dedication to sustainability on our blog, but here’s a quick list of our current initiatives:

  • Environmentally-Friendly Purchasing Policy: Toys, treats, and foods made from reputable manufacturers with high environmental standards as well as eliminating products containing palm oil, which contribute to deforestation
  • Recycling: Cardboard, paper, and plastic single-stream recycling
  • Composting: Food waste and scraps
  • Zero Waste Boxes: Customers are invited to bring empty pet food packaging back to The Happy Beast for recycling through our partnership with TerraCycle
  • Water Efficiency: Low-flow aerators on faucets and upgraded dog wash sprayers with efficient flow and auto-off functionality
  • LED Lighting: Replaced old incandescent lights with new LED lights acquired through Xcel Energy and PACE rebate programs
  • Reusable Shopping Bags: Provide $.10 bag credits and reusable shopping bags for purchase
  • Smart Electronics Policy: Smart power strips and automatic sleep functionality for all computers
  • Energy Efficient Appliances: EnergyStart certified washer and dryer and automatic thermostat programming
  • Pet Food Donations: Reusing and donating pet food items for local animal shelters and rescues

In addition to these efforts, to further support the Lafayette Green Business Program, I’ll be leading two Green Business Marketing Workshops on May 1 at Confluence Small Business Collective. See below for more info or contact matt@thehappybeast.com to learn more.

Lastly, thanks to all of the organizations who collaborate to help make this program happen: the City of Lafayette, the Lafayette Energy Sustainable Advisory Committee (LESAC), the Lafayette Waste Reduction Advisory Committee (WRAC), Xcel Energy, and Boulder County’s Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE) have partnered to offer the recognition opportunity.

 

GREEN BUSINESS MARKETING WORKSHOPS

Transition Town Totnes and the Path to Sustainability

Totnes in the United Kingdom is my dream town. Well, at least when it comes to sustainability it is. In terms of weather, I’ll take beautiful Lafayette over dreary ol’ England any day. But with a little work, we can make our community just as sustainable.

I had never heard of Totnes until recently, when I was listening to a TED Radio Hour about finite resources. It is one (and the first) of 350 towns and cities across the world participating in the Transition Town Movement. The Transition Town Movement is a model of sustainability created by Rob Hopkins. The purpose of this social movement is for communities to begin shifting away from their reliance on fossil fuels and to begin focusing on manufacturing and purchasing local goods and commodities in order to increase their resilience and insulate them from any negative effects of a rapidly changing global economic system. The people of Totnes have developed an Energy Descent Action Plan that provides a guide for their own town and others to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and lower our carbon footprints.

So what does my sustainable dream town have to do with pet food and supplies? Well, to us, sustainability is the foundation of everything we do. We love living and working in Lafayette and we’re dedicated to constantly analyzing how our own actions impact our community. Because sustainability issues are quite complex, we continue to be a part of the Lafayette Green Business Program and look for ways to strengthen our commitment year after year. Check out our progress so far by reading our previous blog posts (links below).

This year, we’ve been looking even more critically at what we throw away, including assessing the effects of packaging and diverting more waste away from landfills by using Eco-Cycle’s CHaRM facility and Terracycle. Here’s a bit more about these great organizations:

  • CHaRM or the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials and is run by Eco-Cycle, a local nonprofit organization out of Boulder that’s been in business for over 40 years! At the CHaRM facility Eco-Cycle recycles materials that typically are sent to landfills, but don’t need to be, including cooking oil, cement, small appliances, yoga mats, and all types of plastics. At The Happy Beast, we use CHARM to recycle the clear plastic packaging that wraps larger shipments of canned pet food and bulk treats. Eco-Cycle charges a $3 fee for every vehicle, in addition to the recycling fees that apply to specific materials like electronics, bike tires, and porcelain, but there is no additional fee for most plastics. And if you’re planning to use CHaRM on a regular basis, we recommend setting up a business account, which reduces the $3 trip fee.
  • Terracycle is a global waste management company based in New Jersey that aims to reuse, upcycle, and recycle almost every form of waste, including such diverse waste streams as industrial byproducts, toy action figures, styrofoam, and scraps of hair from salons – they literally recycle almost everything! At The Happy Beast, we have Terracycle Zero Waste Boxes for all our pet food packaging and personal packaging such as chip bags and to-go food containers. Earthborn, one of the great natural pet food brands we carry, even has their own program and Zero Waste Boxes with Terracycle. We encourage all our customers to return their clean, empty pet food bags to us at the store and so far we’ve collected over 1,500 bags for recycling!

Our next projects include:

  • Reducing our electricity and natural gas use with Xcel Energy by implementing additional energy efficiency measures including replacement of our existing fluorescent light bulbs and fixtures with more energy efficient LED options.
  • Identifying new opportunities through the Lafayette Green Business Program. If you own a business in Lafayette (or know someone who does) you can apply for free through the City of Lafayette website.
  • Offsetting our carbon footprint through Terrapass through Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).. By purchasing RECs, we will be investing in projects that promost renewable energy like wind and solar while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Look for our implementation of this project this fall.

All the steps we are implementing at the store, we are also doing in our own homes. We want to spread the word about these amazing companies and what we can all do to make this world a healthier place for future generations.

Stay tuned for future sustainability updates and let us know if you have any other ideas or suggestions to improve our collective sustainability. And check out the links below for more information on the Transition Town Movement – perhaps Lafayette could be next!

Protect Wildcat Habitat: Take the 28-Day No Palm Oil Challenge!

In learning more about the wild relatives of our domestic cats (check out last month’s blog post, “Raising Awareness for the World’s Small Wildcats”), we discovered just how devastating the palm oil industry can be on the natural habitats of wildcats. This month, we’re taking a 28-day challenge to reduce palm oil consumption in our own lives. We know money talks, and so we’re choosing to discontinue purchasing products that contribute to the deforestation brought on by the palm oil industry.

Why? Palm oil is one of the most widely used vegetable oils in the world due to its versatility, and it’s found in all sorts of products – from foods like cereal, chips, peanut butter to dairy products, soaps, toothpaste, makeup, and laundry detergents (just to name a few.)

It is also one of the most devastating crops to the forests of Southeast Asia where half of the world’s small wildcat species make their home. There are few protections for the environment and wildlife in this part of the world so the palm oil industry faces little push back when it destroys forests and sets up massive operations.

As we explained last month, “because wildcats are apex predators, when we conserve their habitats, we are saving entire ecosystems and helping to preserve biodiversity.” Once you get into the news and research about palm oil, the problem can feel daunting and so we wanted to provide some practical steps that you can take to help.

The organization Say No to Palm Oil’s first recommendation is to take their 28-Day Palm Oil Challenge to identify and eliminate purchasing products that contain palm oil. The challenge is broken into four, 1-week periods, looking at a different category of products each week (pantry, fridge, bathroom products, and laundry products). We’ve already begun our challenge at The Happy Beast and would LOVE to have you join us. We’ve outlined each of the weeks below with products to avoid and healthy alternatives, including homemade recipes and DIY cleaners that are super easy to make and environmentally friendly.


WEEK 1: PANTRY

The FDA requires palm oil to be listed on the ingredient panel of packaged food. Be on the lookout for palm oil in the following items: Shortenings, cookies, crackers, cake mixes, icing, instant noodles, bouillon cubes, biscuits, gluten free breads, and almond and peanut butters.

Homemade Everything Crackers
This recipe is super simple and the crackers are done in about 15 min

Recipe from www.thekitchn.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, or a mix of all-purpose and whole grain flours
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1 tbsp fennel seeds, 1 tbsp poppy seeds, 1 tsp sea salt


WEEK 2: FRIDGE

Be on the lookout for palm oil in the following items: Ice cream, non-dairy creamers, and margarines. And if you are a vegetarian or vegan and use “meat-free” or “dairy-free” products, it is especially important to read all the ingredients. We tend to assume vegetarian and vegan products are both ethically and environmentally responsible, but there are several dairy-free cheeses and milks that contain palm oil. For instance the popular So Delicious Dairy Free brand has several products that contain palm oil.

Homemade Almond Milk

Making milk seems really intimidating, but it’s actually quite fun and easy. Plus, it excludes thickening agents such as carrageenan, guar gum, and xanthan gum.

Recipe from www.thekitchn.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw almonds, preferably organic
  • 2 cups water, plus more for soaking
  • Sweeteners like honey, sugar, agave syrup, or maple syrup, to taste, optional


WEEK 3: BATHROOM

The FDA does not require palm oil to be listed in the ingredients for non-food products, so identifying it in bathroom products is a little tricky. Avoid anything with sodium lauryl sulfate and palmityl alcohol. Check out this list of palm oil synonyms and derivatives from the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University​. Overall, products like mouthwash, toothpaste, lotion, and skin care products can contain palm oil and are quite ubiquitous in our personal care products.

DIY Toothpaste

Recipe from: www.wellnessmama.com

Ingredients

  • About 1/2 cup coconut oil.
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of baking soda.
  • 2 small packets of stevia powder.
  • 15-20 drops of peppermint or cinnamon essential oil (optional)


WEEK 4: LAUNDRY

Household cleaning products frequently use palm oil for their foaming and emulsifying properties. Remember that it’s always important to read the labels, especially for those products promoting themselves as “green” or “natural.” For instance Clorox Greenworks, Method, Seventh Generation, and Simple Green cleaners all contain palm oil derivatives.

DIY Cleaner

Recipe from: www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Homemade-All-Purpose-Cleaner-28495713

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Borax
  • 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide
  • 2 cups hot water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Touch of Lavender essential oil (optional)