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Allison Reser, Sr. Project Manager

After Global Pet Expo, I find myself appreciating an honest question I received several times: What is sustainability? I’m also excited and proud to have an answer for them:

Packaging. Ingredients. Social Impact.

Sustainability could mean a thousand things. For professionals like me who’ve had that word in their degrees and job titles for years, it can be such a big topic that it’s easy to trip over yourself trying to define it.

Some attempts to define it are overwhelming and too vague to spark action. Like, meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future. Or considering the triple bottom line of economic, social, and environmental impact. These do not answer the question I received at the trade show.

When people asked me about sustainability at GPE, it was with genuine curiosity and desire to do better. They wanted specifics.

Standing on the shoulders of the work PSC has done over the last 11 years, I didn’t find myself tripping over my response: Packaging, ingredients, and social impact. These are the sustainability focus areas where the pet industry can have the most impact.

Where to go next within these focus areas requires you to put on your systems thinking cap, consider tradeoffs, and chart a path forward. When companies truly dive in, I love seeing the the beautiful multitude of ways improving packaging, ingredients, and social impact manifests to match their unique situation.

Essentially what I’m feeling in the wake of the trade show is excitement about unlocking a way I can narrow this wild world of sustainability down to what’s most relevant for the pet industry, while also inviting creativity and complexity.

Oh, and another thing unlocked, or more accurately unhinged in my brain… We need to get better at green claims. Not only greenwashing, but greenhushing. If you’re making positive improvements behind the scenes, please give the details and talk more about it!

I had never been to a trade show before. I was worried I’d feel overdosed on consumerism and beat down by skeptics. But after standing in the show’s first-ever sustainability section and sincerely discussing environmental and social impact with passersby, I’m feeling more inspired and empowered than ever.

We can actually move the needle!

Allison Reser, Sr. Project Manager

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