Lanette Fidrych, the co-founder of the Portland-based upcycled pet product company Cycle Dog, was grappling with a problem — when she had an idea.
The avid biker had a lot of flat bike tubes lying around that were otherwise destined for landfills, and she very much wanted to avoid that.
The lightbulb moment came when Fidrych, a former Nike employee, started creating belts out of her flat bike tubes as a way to give them a second life. That eventually evolved into collars and leashes for her two Labradors, and the products were a hit.
“After getting positive feedback from friends, I decided to launch a company with my husband Paul, with the aim of bringing our recycled bike tube products to market,” Fidrych told The Cool Down.
As two avid animal lovers who didn’t love the unsustainable products that filled pet store aisles, the husband and wife duo started Cycle Dog in 2009 as an answer to their own conundrum.
Things quickly spiraled from there, with demand forcing her to quit her job at Nike and focus on Cycle Dog full-time. The woman-led company has grown to 30 employees (and 10 dogs), with all products made in America.
Cycle Dog’s statistics are impressive, with nearly 2.5 million tubes and nearly four million plastic bottles upcycled into pet products as of 2019. But securing all of the material to upcycle wasn’t easy.
“Scaling the business quickly using a recycled material presented challenges, such as finding enough bike shops to hold tubes for us and the time it took to pick them up,” Fidrych told The Cool Down. “However, I am proud of the relationships we have built with bike shops for recycling, and the fact that we have recycled millions of tubes from the landfill.”
Cycle Dog’s products are designed to last, even further reducing landfill waste and promoting a sustainable lifestyle.
For example, Fidrych says that while the average consumer replaces their dog’s bed multiple times per year, Cycle Dog’s beds are meant to last five to seven years. This commitment to durable and quality products runs through all of the Cycle Dog products.
Fidrych says her success story is built around an understanding that every small action has an impact.
“It’s all about shifting your mindset from waste to opportunity,” she said. “I was once excited about just one garbage bag being reused, and now I am thrilled about pallets and pallets of materials being reused.”
“When I started, many people saw it as a strange hobby, but now it’s seen as a cool thing,” she added. “This shift in perception is a generational change that I find very encouraging.”
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