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Sunday, August 24, 2014

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DIY Eco-Friendly Leash for Your Pet – Easy, Simple and Fun!


doga and feret on leash

You are a big fan of DIY projects, so why not try something for your very best friend, your pet dog?

Quality dog accessories are expensive, and you already may have stretched the pet-stuff budget getting home quite a few of the goodies you saw at the store.

Dog leashes are one of your favorite buys, and would you not love to have some lovely leads to make evening walks with your dog easier?

Dog collars and leads are some of the simplest-to-make items for your dog, and just as essential if you have an energetic pooch who takes you for a walk rather than the other way round.

In this post we look at how you can create your own dog leads and restraints (using eco-friendly material) and give them a personalized touch.

Eco-Friendly Dyed Dog Lead
Colorful rope leashes are quite popular. They are strong and sturdy, durable and pretty to look at as well. So why not make one for your pooch instead of shopping online for one?

You can choose the color of your choice and get started. You will need a quality rope about 3 yards long and 3/8 inch thick. Go for eco-friendly recycled nylon climbing rope. There are also several companies that make ropes from donated stuff and recycled materials, so you can rest assured you will find an apt choice.

In addition to the rope you will need a natural and organic fabric dye that is safe for your pooch as well as the environment. Choose a color of choice, but if it is a dark shade like orange or black, you can dye your lead to get a perfect gradient or a dip-dyed effect.

You also need 2 rubber clamps and a snap hook. You can look for green options while purchasing these as well.

Now let’s see how you can go about making that stylish dog leash.

Step #1: Determine the Length of the Lead

  • Six feet is the standard length of dog leashes and a safe measure to go with. Measure the rope and cut it as per the length you need. Tape, melt or tie the ends so that the rope does not unravel.

Step #2: Prepare the Rope for Dyeing

  • Soak the rope in warm water for some time. This helps the rope absorb the dye better.
  • Prepare the dye as per the instructions given on the pack. You require very less quantity for this project, so use accordingly and avoid wastage.

Step #3: Dip and Dye Away!

  • Dip the whole rope in the dye and take it out immediately. You can divide the rope into three parts and get each portion dyed to a different degree.
  • Dip the portion you want to be dyed deep for a longer period in the dye. The other two portions can be dipped for different time periods according to the gradation you want.
  • For best results use eco-friendly dyes.

Step #4: Let the Colors Set on the Rope

  • Remove the rope and let it line-dry for some time. The purpose of this step is not to dry the leash but to let the dye hold fast.
  • Putting the darker end at the top allows the dye to creep down to give a lovely gradient effect to your leash.

Step #5: Rinse Thoroughly

  • The next step is to rinse the rope thoroughly in cold water, until the water runs clear. You can use a recommended fixative to help seal the colors.
  • Dye fixatives are a bit opaque when it comes to the eco-friendly part, so you can choose to forgo using them, until and unless you are sure they are certified green.

Step #6: Hook, Snap and Clamp- You Are Ready!

  • This step comes after the rope has dried completely. It may take close to a full day for the rope to dry, so give it the necessary time to air out.
  • Feed the chosen end of the rope through the snap hook and form a small loop. You can secure the free end with a pair of rubber clamps.
  • Now, move to the other end of the rope where you need to form the loop that goes over the head of your dog. Form a suitably big loop, and secure the loose ends with the rubber clamps as before. (The rule of thumb is if your dog’s head measures 20 inches you need a loop that is 10 inches wider. So 20 inches + 10 inches= 30 inches wide)
  • You can camouflage the rubber clamps with a cute DIY sleeve or covering made of a material of your choice. Yarn, twine or recycled leather covering will work fine. Google for ideas!

Reflective Dog Leash

  • A reflective dog leash will help make both you as well as your dog visible to the traffic while out for a late-evening stroll.
  • This is a really simple project and will help give a facelift to an old, but favorite leash. Leashes made from organic materials usually have an old and worn-out look, so you can use the reflective tape to jazz things up.
  • You need a reflective fabric tape approximately 2 inches longer than the leash. There are eco-friendly reflective tapes available that are made from non-toxic materials and are bio-degradable. Some come with safe self-adhesives as well for extra convenience.
  • While measuring for the length of the fabric tape required, you should also add in the hand loop of the leash. Cut out the fabric strip according to the measurements.
  • Apply a thin layer of eco-friendly glue over one side of the leash. Press the reflective fabric tape onto the surface, smooth out as you go and hold it in place firmly.
  • If there are excess fabric ends around the leash, trim them for a clean fit.

You can follow the same process for the collar also. If there are loops or buckles, you can thread in the reflective tape through them to cover the entire face of the collar.

Conclusion
There are plenty of DIY projects that you can try out to craft perfect accessories for your dog. The end products may not have the finish or the style of commercial products. But since you made them with all your love, they will have the personalized touch your pooch will definitely heart.

Written by: Nicola Reynor

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Love Your Reef Tank Without Loving Coral Reefs to Death


percula
For novice aquarists fresh water tanks are usually a starting point because they are easier and cheaper to maintain. But some may say that coral reef tanks are the Bentleys of aquariums. Despite their deep love for these amazing species many aquarists buy corals, fish and inverts that have been taken from wild reefs. A lot of reef species are obtained from the exploitation and over harvesting of already threatened reef systems. Some estimates put 60% of corals reefs in critical danger. The practice of taking corals, fish and invertebrates from these fragile systems for aquarium practices has been going on for decades.

purple stylo

There are however ways to enjoy having salt water species in your tank without promoting their exploitation, simply buy from aquaculture providers instead. As American aquarists have become more eco-conscious companies have taken notice and new options are all over the market. Fort Pierce, Florida based, ORA ( Oceans, Reefs & Aquariums), offers aquacultured hatchery-raised saltwater fish, invertebrates, and live aquarium foods and Sustainable Reefs.com offers access to aquacultured corals, fish, plants and inverts from various aquaculture providers. (more…)

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

eco-friendly pet: reclaimed wood dog bed


reclaimed wood dog bed

It had to come to this – luxurious craftsman quality beds befitting the style and grandeur of our most treasured companions – pets. America’s love affair/obsession with its furry friends knows no limits. This manifestation – a pet bed handmade from 100% reclaimed wood – is actually a positive one (pet beds can be among the ugliest items in a home) with eco-friendly bloodlines. The bed’s creator, Gina Marie, specializes in making handmade home decor items out of reclaimed wood.

miniature schnauzer in dog bed

This bed will provide your small dog a stylishly comfortable place to sleep and relax. It measures roughly 19-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ and 3-1/4″ deep, and is perfect for a 20-pound canine like a miniature Schnauzer (shown above). This doggy bed features handmade craftswomanship, a headboard created from 4 pieces of reclaimed wood, wood buttons to cover all fasteners and tons of character   – add a pillow or cushion of your, or your dog’s choice. $249 @ Redeeming Timber

related: more pet stuff featured on www.alternativeconsumer.com

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Teaching Your Kids to Craft Eco-friendly Pet Toys


dog montage

It seems like the prices of pet toys goes up by leaps and bounds every time a pet owner walks into the pet supply store. The prices are even higher for pet toys that are eco-friendly. It makes no sense that pet owners who want to give their dogs and cats toys that won’t harm the environment must pay ridiculous prices for them. On the average, pet owners pay around six hundred dollars every year to keep their precious pups or cute cats supplied with a variety of pet toys. In this economy, people are finding it hard to continue to buy new pet toys. Fortunately, you can make your own pet toys with your kids using things found in nature or items that are lying around the house.

By teaching your kids to craft eco-friendly pet toys, you are also teaching them ways to recycle old items and still put them to good use. It’s also a great way to spend time together as a family and encourage your kids to be creative. Making your own eco-friendly pet toys is fun for the whole family and once the toys are completed, they’ll be fun for the pets too!

The Eco-friendly Tug Toy
You’ll need the following items to make the eco-friendly tug toy:

  • Old but durable fabric
  • Eco-friendly fabric paint
  • Natural hair paintbrushes
  • Newspapers

How to make the tug toy:
Spread a thick layer of newspaper on the space where you and your children will be working. This will help to protect the surface from paint.

  • Lay the fabric out flat, and cut three six inch wide and eighteen inch long strips. Save the remaining fabric for other pet toy projects.
  • Paint different things on the fabric strips however; you must be sure that the fabric paint is non-toxic and eco-friendly. This can be found at most craft supply stores. A lot of pet owners paint things like dog bones on the fabric, but any design that pleases you will work. You can paint hearts on it for Valentine’s Day, bunnies or eggs for Easter, or even the name of your favorite team for football season. The options are plentiful so be as creative as you’d like!
  • Let the paint dry completely and flip the fabric over. Now, you and the kids can paint this side with more designs. Be sure to let this side dry thoroughly as well.
  • Tie tight knots at the ends of each strip of fabric. Double knots tend to hold up best.
  • Tie two of the fabric strips in the space between the end knots of the third strip and Voila! You and the kids have created your own eco-friendly pet toy for your pooch!

Now that you’ve created a great new toy for your dog, it’s time to test it out. Bring your precious, eco-friendly pooch outside and toss that tug toy! Of course, don’t do this unless your backyard is secured with a traditional fence, electric dog fence or wireless dog fence. Safety should always come first, when it comes time for playing with your dog.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Olive – a one-stop shop for eco-friendly dogs and cats


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Truth be told, we love Olive. Olive is an online store that provides safe and environmentally friendly goods for both dogs and cats. It first opened in January 2008, and has since been supplying pet owners with top-quality, (often handcrafted) products that are durable and stylish. Olive is located outside of Austin, Texas, and is a proud member of the Organic Trade Association and Green America.

dog_coat.jpg

Olive has just about everything you could ever need for your little pets — from bedding, grooming, flea & tick treatments and collars — to stylish outerwear, accessories, food, toys and training supplies. When it comes to their selection of pet food, they guarantee to provide fresh food with the longest possible expiry, and vow that all products are both toxin and chemical-free. Also, all orders are shipped in low-impact packaging – using recycled boxes and biodegradable packing materials. (more…)

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Aquasprouts: all-in-one sustainable garden and filterless aquarium


eco_aquarium.png

If you’re like me and you love aquarium fish as well as potted plants in your home then you’ll definitely be interested in Aquasprouts. This is a neat gift idea as well as something unique to decorate your home. The aquarium is an educational aquaponic system, sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Austin, Texas-based and made in the USA, Aquasprouts combines both fish and plants into one compact, fun unit.

The aquarium is a closed loop system so that the device is sustainable and efficient for buyers. They are also self-cleaning, self-fertilizing, support fish and also grows plants in a symbiotic relationship. I was amazed that the aquariums are filterless so you don’t have to worry about messy cleanup. The system enables you to grow basil, mint, or other herbs allowing you to always have produce at hand. It can also be implemented in classrooms or for children as a learning experience about ecosystems, earth cycles, aquaculture, and gardening.

The systems are a little pricey and there are only two options of 5.5 gallons and 10 gallons at $250 and $280. However, this includes everything you need and you’ll never have to change the filter or clean it again and you will always have food growing which also saves you a lot of money. I suggest you check out this interesting product and the video under their “About Us” section for yourself at: www.aquasprouts.com

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Deciphering Dog Food Labels – An Owner’s Guide


dog food heart

When it comes to dog food, the choice is almost baffling. Even when you’ve come to a decision about whether to feed your dog canned or dried food, deciding upon a brand is a tricky. What do the words and phrases on labels actually mean about the food, and how can owners get to the truth? Here are some tips to help you along.

Regulation
Pet food labelling is regulated by the FDA, a government body that establishes standards and ensures that certain information is correctly presented. All store-bought dog food should adhere to these rules so read over them to find out what’s guaranteed. The AAFCO, Association of American Feed Control Officials, are another official body. Their regulations are adhered to in a number of US states but not all. If your state complies to AAFCO regulations then it’s worth reading up on what they are.

Natural and Organic
Some owners may confuse the word ‘natural’ as meaning that the food is in some way superior in terms of the quality of ingredients. There is no official rule for when the word ‘natural’ can be used, although the AAFCO have gone some way to defining it. As a rule of thumb it means that there are no artificial colours, flavours and preservatives but it is always worth checking the ingredients to be sure.

Surprisingly, the FDA also states that ‘there are no official rules governing the labelling on organic foods for pets at this time.’  Again, ingredients lists should indicate which plant sources are actually organic, if any.

Gourmet and Premium
When it comes to deciphering words like gourmet and premium, it’s good practice to consult the ingredients list. The FDA website states that products labelled as gourmet and premium are ‘not required to contain any different or higher quality ingredients.’ (FDA.gov September 2013). This comes as a surprise to many dog owners, who assume that higher price means better quality. Some ways to determine actual quality are to look at meat percentages versus the percentage of ‘fillers’ such as corn. A higher meat percentage is recommended by many vets as being healthier for your dog.

As a rule of thumb, the back of a packet will give you more accurate information that the front. Consider the ingredients and breakdowns of nutritional information over the marketing spin.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Melaleuca: The Wellness Company


Welcome our new intern and contributor Hannah Hackbart. Hannah is an environmental studies major at UCSB.

Melaleuca is a company committed to environmental health. From production to packaging to distribution, every step of this business’s products are constructed in an environmentally friendly way. Products range from beauty care to cleaning supplies to pet products to even dental care and laundry supplies. Many of these things in modern society, especially cleaning supplies, have been known to be the antithesis of sustainability, with bleach and other toxins being sprayed into the air and flushed down the drain during a typical cleaning session. However, what makes Melaleuca so special is that every product is safe to use for cleaning and personal wellbeing, promoting environmental and personal health without the use of harmful chemicals and toxins.

melaleuca logo

Another perk of the Melaleuca company is that the packaging of products is very minimal. The products come in super concentrated quantities, sometimes as high as 6x concentrated. This allows for much smaller containers to be used to store and transport goods, requiring less energy and resources to do so. Once received at home, the user simply has to dilute the concentration with water and begin use as normal. In comparing the amount of plastic used with standard laundry detergent bottles for a year with the concentrated ones, Melaleuca claims that over 600,000 laundry baskets could be constructed with the wasted plastic from the non-concentrated bottles. That is a pretty astounding number. Imagine if all products were concentrated like that; plastic waste would literally be cut by 80 percent.

melalueca detergent

To purchase these products for your home, Melaleuca suggests that buyers become a preferred customer by signing up for a small, one time fee. Becoming a preferred customer allows people to receive orders every month that can be tailored to suit their individual needs. This ensures that you will never run out of your new favorite vitamins or cleaning supplies. Becoming a member also gives people the opportunity to make money through Melaleuca. If a customer promotes the company to a friend who ends up purchasing supplies, they will get a share of the profits made from the company. Sounds too good to be true right?

 

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