The world is changing rapidly and we are told to shop sustainably wherever possible. But how easy is it to make true informed decisions and do all shopping categories really offer us the right choices?
On a recent trip to a department store I decided to have a nosey through the pet section (yes that’s right), can you believe that luxury department stores now have a dedicated pet section? Little did I realise that this would be the most positive revelation of the day… I will explain why.
For some reason, a big department store was never my go-to for anything dog wear related, I’m not sure if that’s because they have only recently started to take note of this category or if I have just never looked for it until now.
When I looked up to see a beautifully clear sign-posted wall with ‘Pet-Care’ written across it, I headed straight over. I was so taken back by the size of the dedicated space and how clearly signposted it was, I hadn’t considered it was on the lower-ground floor, next to luggage and electrical items.
By this point I was still really excited thinking that I would be able to find something a bit more premium for special occasions and gifting. Unfortunately that quickly changed when the first item I came across was a poo bag holder, it had recyclable poo bags already inside (great) but it was made of plastic (not so great). Following that, I quickly realised that the designer items seemed to be made from exactly the same synthetic materials as those in standard pet stores and mostly Made in China. Apart from the clear designer labels, they didn’t really offer anything different or premium at all. However it’s worth noting that everything was very reasonably priced and a much lower price point than you would expect in the rest of the store.
This had me wondering, have department stores already tried to offer luxury dog clothing in the past, but consumers didn’t buy it?
So where is the best place to find quality dog clothes?
There are some great choices out there for outdoor, practical items and these can always be found in good pet stores in abundance. For something unique, go and find your nearest Pet Boutique these are usually small, independent and locally owned.
The Pet Clothing category in general has a lot of catching up to do, even pet food is miles ahead in this area. There are fresh, fee-range and organic options out there to choose from. Supermarkets are even putting in freezers and refrigerators in the pet aisle so they can offer fresh dog food. Highly processed, tinned ambient meat is on the decline (woohoo).
On the down side, if you are looking for a quality dog jumper or something with minimal microplastics, outside of picking up some knitting needles and knitting it yourself, you might be looking for some time.
Something you will notice is the confusing messaging, I have seen acrylic yarns described as ‘technical yarn’ in product descriptions (what does that even mean) and these are dog jumpers that cost over £300. For this reason, I would probably disregard the high-end designer, pet wear luxury market as being at the spear-head of sustainable dog wear.
The best advice from me would be to look at smaller businesses, Etsy is a good place to look and does a great job of connecting artisan makers with consumers. I would also like to shoutout Not on The High Street, again putting in that extra support for products that are made in Britain and women-owned businesses.
Try your best to look for natural fibres, if not natural then go for recycled. Although recycled acrylic is better than new acrylic, it will still shed microplastics into the environment and sadly into your dog too (sorry). I am a huge fan of wool, it is literally a super-power fabric because it has so many fantastic properties. Some of the benefits of wool include, naturally fire retardant, odour resistant, warm as well as cooling (clever), 100% natural, 100% biodegradable, renewable, durable …. The list goes on.
So whose fault is it anyway?
We shouldn’t be so hard on big business and designer labels as they would probably respond by saying that they are adapting to exactly what we are buying. I can totally believe that, most people would say that sustainable options are often too expensive. However, expensive does not always mean better. I have seen plenty of premium options that are even less sustainable than the cheaper options.
I totally understand the attraction of picking up something cheap and then replacing it a couple of times a year with something else new and cheap, right? But we cannot keep on buying in this way, we need to take better care of what we buy whilst trying to buy less.
For those of us that are ready to make the change, we need to put some pressure on and demand better from ALL categories. Start choosing natural fibres over synthetics and reaching out to companies that do not declare what country their dog clothes are made. Just because a brand has ‘London’ in their title, definitely does not mean that their products are not made in China (trust me)
There is always progress to be made and we are definitely moving in the right direction, but it is our duty as dog owners to actually be the great people that our dogs believe us to be.