Kennedy studied Political Science/International Relations and French at Stonehill College, and she is a writer and editor at Ecopreneur Media. Kennedy is passionate about many social issues, such as homelessness, inequality, immigration, and is interested in how these issues intersect with those relating to the environment. By informing others about eco-friendly companies, Kennedy is driven to inspire readers to take action in their communities in solidarity for the preservation of our planet.
As a dog-owner, you certainly want what’s best for your dog. As we humans make more strides towards eating “green,” meaning eating better, fresher, and more local food, why not do the same for your beloved companion?
The green movement is here. More and more people are being pushed to think about how they can diminish waste production, buy local, and reduce their carbon footprint. Just as anything else in your life, your pet has an effect on your ability to “go green.” Think about it- virtually every dog food comes in single-use packaging and, just like a lot of “people food,” many dog food brands are made with processed ingredients, instead of local foods, which derives from an environmentally harmful supply chain. If you are a pet-owner, your efforts to “go green” at home must involve your pet too. One place to start is to be more mindful about your dog’s treats.
Ash & Daisy’s, a small business founded by Elise Van Valkenburg, makes dog treats out of fresh vegetables and local ingredients. A frequent visitor to farmers markets, Van Valkenburg found that treats for her dog, Ash, was a product that was missing from many local stands. With a passion for the environment, which she developed through environmental sustainability and social justice programs at her alma mater, Stonehill College, Van Valkenburg decided to create a business to fill this need.
When starting the business, Van Valkenburg found a lot of success in making sustainable dog treats within a niche market. She found the beginning stages as a “great learning experience” to figure out “what is trending and what people are interested in buying” which can be difficult to predict.
So far, Van Valkenburg has received great responses from fellow dog-owners. She describes that they “appreciate the time and thought that goes into making the treats” knowing that the ingredients and process are trustworthy.
Having pets of her own, Van Valkenburg understands the concern of giving one’s pet food with healthy ingredients. Van Valkenburg recounts the various times she’s picked out dog treats, and noticed so many ingredients on the label that she doesn’t recognize. Being a good baker herself, Van Valkenburg “figured she could make treats at home and [would know] that it was a healthier, low-calorie option” for her dog.
Currently, Ash & Daisy’s sells 5 flavors: Pup-kin Spice, Cheddar Cheese, Cape Vegger, Peanut Butter, and Apple Picker. While they all vary in their ingredients, each flavor includes organic, fresh fruits and vegetables, along with whole wheat flour, and various spices, like turmeric which is a good additive for dogs. To get her ingredients, Van Valkenburg shops at local farm stands throughout Massachusetts. In the winter, she shops in the organic food section at stores that only sell products grown in the U.S.
In addition to Ash & Daisy’s commitment to fresh, local ingredients, Van Valkenburg wanted to focus on the environment by creating a reusable mason jar incentive program. Through this program, Van Valkenburg’s customers avoid disposable packaging which is difficult for many pet-owners to do with other commercial brands. The treats are sold in glass mason jars at her stand in local farmers markets and online. If customers bring the jars back, they will receive $2 off their next purchase. Van Valkenburg says she “thought it would be great [to use glass jars] instead of a one-use plastic bag. Even if [the customers] don’t bring the jar back for dog treats, they can still use the jar [at home].”
As an environmentally and socially responsible business, Van Valkenburg says that it’s important to “educate your customer on how to live a more sustainable life.” Van Valkenburg contends that “everyone should be conscious about [their carbon footprint]” which is “something [consumers] can do with small changes and the products [they] buy.” She urges that “we all live on this planet, we all have an effect- let’s have a positive one, versus a negative one.”
Let Van Valkenburg’s guidance push you to a more sustainable, zero-waste life. We, and our dear canine friends, all have a part to play. By supporting businesses like Ash & Daisy’s, you can make a positive impact on waste reduction and the environment as a whole, while also providing a greener and healthier lifestyle for your pet.