Earth Day at Pet Camp

At Pet Camp we believe that every day should be Earth Day, that said, we also think that once a year (or whenever we get around to it), we should try and look at what Pet Camp has done to be a pet care provider that is also a good environmental steward and what we have left to do. So here it goes:

What We’ve Done:

1. Cut our Electric Use:
Back in 2000 (some of us can still remember that year) things were crazy both at work and at home. At work Pet Camp was paying $25,000 a year in electric bills at the Main Campground AND even though we were paying so much we were still being subject to planned brown outs (when they warn you that they are going to turn off the electricity in your area to save power on the grid for someone else). If this wasn’t crazy enough, the triplets were a few months old so we were getting no sleep at home and trying to run a small business that might or might not have electricity. To top it off (at least to us), some folks in Washington D.C. were arguing that we needed to start drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge to get California through the summer (as if starting to drill now gets you oil next week). Frankly, we had had enough, so here’s what we did.

Solar Panels: We installed lots of solar panels – over 250! – at the Main Campground Mark with panels and later installed another 30 at Cat Safari. We still use power from the grid, but we use a lot, lot less. When we turned on our solar system at the Main Campground, Pet Camp was the third largest power producer in the City of San Francisco and the largest solar system in the entire City.

Big Ass Fans: We just love saying that name, but they are officially called High Volume Low Speed Fans. These 20’ diameter ceiling fans (that’s right, they are 20 feet across) move huge amounts of air very slowly. We installed 2 of these fans and turned off 13 smaller fans.
More Efficient Lighting: We went from those old, kind-of-yellowish HID bulbs that you can still see at the warehouse stores to very narrow, more efficient fluorescent bulbs.

More Efficient Equipment: We converted our larger electric machines (like our pool filter and pressure washers) from 112 volts to 220 volts. This is a lot of techno-mumbo jumbo, but it means that the equipment needs less electricity to run.

2. Cut our Natural Gas Use
At our Cat Safari location, we installed solar thermal panels to heat our water and a tankless water heater for days that the solar thermal panels can’t get the water hot enough on their own. We also have the ability to heat the building using the warm air from the Safari Solarium.

3. Cut our Regular Gas Use
The Pet Camp Express runs on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). CNG is much cleaner burning than regular car gasoline. We know even CNG isn’t perfect, but we haven’t figured out a way to train the dogs to pedal the Express up the hills (they do just fine on the way down).

4. Diverted From Landfills
We divert more than 80% of our “waste” from landfills. This includes the traditional composting and recycling efforts and, of course, our “poop to power” program where dog poop gets turned into electricity at a biomass facility.

5. Changed Our Purchasing Practices
We do our best to only purchase paper products that are 100% post-consumer recycled and cleaning products that have minimal environmental impact.

What we have left to do:

1. Save More Water
California is in a perpetual draught; even when it rains in the winter we know we have to continue to conserve water. Frankly, we can do better at Pet Camp. Sure, we’ve installed super-efficient dishwashers and washing machines, but we’ve been a complete failure in using grey water and we need to find a solution. Even if it’s something simple like using the water from the washing machine to water the landscape, we need to do it. Of course, it would also help if San Francisco would issue permits for using grey water at businesses like they do at residential properties.

2. Change Some Behavior
Damn those kids! What’s up with the 20 something crowd who can’t turn off lights (or even the T.V.), and why is it so hard for them to remember that paper can be composted (if there is food on it) or recycled, and that plastic that can stand up on its own (like a straw) can be recycled but plastic that can’t (like a zip lock bag) can’t be recycled. If an old fart like me has this down, why can’t they get it? We’re not trying to save the earth for my generation.

In the end, I think we’ve done a pretty good job but have some more to do. I also know that while being a certified green business is important, providing exceptional pet care for the dogs and cats of San Francisco at Pet Camp remains the number one priority. I’m just very glad that we’ve been able to demonstrate that you can be both a successful small business and a good environmental steward at the same time.

Thanks for reading and have a great Earth Day 2016!