Tonawanda News


November 10, 2013

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Treat your pets with eco-friendly toys

Tonawanda News — I am going to live off the land. 

Yesterday I finished building a chicken coop with scrap wood I found at the new house. I also used window shutters, chicken wire, washers and screws. Yes, there will be an article about backyard chickens in the near future. 

Upcycling, according to Wikipedia, is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value and I love it. In addition to upcycling a chicken coop I have also made a compost bin and two raised garden beds from what would have been trash.

As pet and animal lovers we should be cognizant of our ecological footprint. Recently at work I came across a bird enrichment company that has the same philosophy. They make earth-friendly toys by using materials that are stimulating for birds and small animals but are sustainable for the environment and as a bonus provide a livelihood for the producers of the toys.

Planet Pleasures is based in Los Angeles and sells their products worldwide. The toys themselves are made in Asia through a certified Fair Trade cooperative. Planet Pleasure says they support more than 400 families who weave the products by hand. 

Since it is through a Fair Trade cooperative everyone involved in the project is paid a fair wage. Videos on their website show locals sitting outside, weaving, very quickly, various types of palm leaf and coconut fibers into colorful natural bird toys. The workers, ranging in ages, laugh as they intertwine the materials on a hot tropical day with chickens clucking in the near distance.

The company also boasts having implemented “master craftsman” awards to recognize those who stand out in their talent and dedication, and hold annual toy contests with awards to stimulate their creativity. They have also set up college scholarship funds to enable those with outstanding ability to go to a university. 

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