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AniPal - leading by example to inspire the veterinary & animal industries

Posted in Our Community @ Feb 21st 2019 - By Judy Gillespie interviewing Dr Stephanie Stubbs, AniPal
Anipal Blog

Have you heard of AniPal? Founded by veterinarian, Dr Steph Stubbs, AniPal uses waste to create beautiful, recycled and sustainable dog collars and leads.

I was fascinated by the story behind AniPal and the passion behind its creation.

I guess what really struck me was that although many of us may talk about environmental concerns, how many decide to go ahead and start up a company that is doing something so completely outside the box?

So I contacted Steph and asked if she'd be interested in sharing her story.

AniPal's mission is to lead by example inspiring the veterinary and animal industries to adopt proactive, sustainable practices which cleanse our environment for the benefit of all our AniPals

J: Tell us a bit about yourself.

S: I’m vet who hails from the Riverina district in Southern NSW. Like many vets, I love animals, wildlife, nature, travelling and outdoor adventures. I grew up on a farm on the Murray River and moved to Melbourne for university. I work at RSPCA in Melbourne and love getting out of the city on country adventures whenever possible!

J: What’s AniPal all about?

S: AniPal is a social enterprise with the goal of helping the animal & vet community lower our environmental footprint.

It started out as a passion and experiment to see if it was possible to make dog collars & leashes from recycled plastic. The aim being to help work out ways we (the animal & vet community) can encourage sustainable practices and reduce our impact on the environment & wildlife.

J: Where did the idea come from?

S: Like many in the veterinary & animal community, l have always had a deep appreciation for natural ecosystems and the network of interdependence that exists in a healthy environment. This delicate balance and the existence of many ecosystems are now threatened.

I was shocked into action when I learnt that many collars and leashes, which feel like they are made from natural fibres, are in fact made from virgin plastic. Soon after, I began researching how to make recycled plastic alternatives. This is our starting point, however, there are many further ways we, as a community to help reduce our environmental impact.

J: It’s quite a big step from seeing wildlife injuries caused by pollution to selling recycled & sustainable pet products online – in fact, my head is reeling from just thinking about it! Can you give us an idea as to what the journey looked like?

S: I guess the journey began when growing up on the Murray River and seeing plastic and rubbish in the waters which would end up on our property after floods or when the water levels changed seasonally. The aftermath of this would involve birds & different wildlife being impacted by the rubbish in a variety of ways. This led to my interest in this space and shock at learning more about the state of our oceans, the threat to the marine ecosystem and the major welfare concerns for many marine animals. The past year has involved a lot of research, emails and chats with many fascinating people and the development of our first collection of recycled products. :)

J:  How did you even know that recycled plastic could make dog collars and leads?

S: When learning that many collars & leashes are made from virgin plastic, I began researching about recycled plastic alternatives.

J: Where does the plastic come from and where are the collars and leads made?

S: Unfortunately, at the moment in Australia we don’t have the manufacturing capabilities to make collars and leashes from recycled plastic. With our partners, we are working hard to help develop this capacity which is exciting.

AniPal’s first collection is made from recycled plastic bottles by a manufacturer in Taiwan. Our second collection will be made locally in Melbourne from marine plastic removed during global ocean clean ups initiatives.

J: How did you find time to do all of this AND still work as a veterinarian?

S: It’s a challenge, but you do always find time for something you love and are really passionate about. Which I am sure you can relate too.

J: You currently offer a range of 7 collars/leashes – what’s coming up next?

S: Up next is a beautifully designed range of collars & leashes made from upcycled marine plastic.

We are also considering unlabelled wholesale options, as our aim is to help the industry incorporate the recycled alternative into their own products. Our mission is to help our vet & animal community reduce their environmental footprint, so we will do whatever it takes to help this happen!

J: What’s your vision for AniPal? Where would you like to see it in 5 years time?

S: AniPal’s vision is to help the vet and animal community adopt sustainable practices and lead from the front in encouraging community change.  We hope to grow awareness of the plastic crisis in oceans and rivers and the harm it causes.  This awareness will hopefully encourage communities to think before buying or using virgin plastic products.

In 5 years I hope our vet & animal community will have taken significant steps towards improving our environmental impact.  It would be fantastic if AniPal can help encourage other similar initiatives and together we can help ensure our industry can become leaders in encouraging sustainability.

J: How can the Vetanswers Community help AniPal out?

S: It is an honour to be part of the Vetanswers community. Developing supportive communities where topics are discussed and shared is essential for the welfare of all animals in our profession, including humans!

We would love for any interested Vetanswers members to join the AniPal crew, to do this please join our online community or reach out for partnership or to stock our products.  If you’re interested in helping improve our industry's sustainability, please get in touch!  

We encourage Vetanswer members to think about how they can help enhance their workplace sustainable behaviours and encourage awareness of the plastic crisis.

J: You’re really ‘putting your money where your mouth is’ (as my dad would say), with regards to making a difference to the environment as an individual - what could the rest of us do to help? 

S: Jump aboard the movement, think about ways your clinic or pet store could enhance your sustainable practices including recycling, join a clean-up initiative and please enhance awareness of the plastic crisis. This can be done through a variety of means including flyers or posters in your workplace, seminars about recycling and the current crisis or any other means you think of! Most importantly have fun helping however you choose. :)

A question for the rest of the Vetanswers Comunity....

How many of you can stock her gorgeous products in your veterinary practice to help recycle more plastic?

It would be a great way to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Vetanswers has given AniPal a complimentary Page in our Business Directory, click here to visit it

You can also click here to visit the AniPal website and check out their gorgeous collars and leads.

Want to know how else you can support Steph & AniPal? Just ask her in the Comments section below.

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