BY JULIANNE BLAIR
It’s important for everyone, including equestrians, to look at how we affect the environment. In recent years, the eco-friendly movement has begun to pick up traction around the world as people look for sustainable swaps that they can apply to everyday life. Protecting mother nature is a big job, but we can start by changing our everyday habits—including around the barn. Here are eight simple things you can do to be more sustainable in your everyday barn life. Equine supply is important.
1. Support consignment shops or host a tack swap
Second-hand tack and clothing sales are one of the easiest ways to be a more sustainable equestrian. There are plenty of options from local and online consignment tack shops, thrifting apps, or even hosting a tack swap at your barn! Not only are second-hand sales a great way to reduce waste, but they are also great for your wallet. You can find everything you need at a fraction of the price and even get some cash back for items that no longer work for you.
2. Swap your plastic sponges for a biodegradable alternative
It’s not something we often think about, but the sponges that most equestrians use for washing horses or cleaning tack are made of plastic and will take thousands of years to break down in a landfill. Instead of buying another plastic sponge, look for a natural sea sponge, loofah, or another plant-based alternative that will biodegrade. Non-plastic sponges also tend to hold up better over time, so you may find yourself needing to purchase them less often.
3. Take proper care of your tack so it lasts
Another simple way to be more sustainable is to take care of what you already have. Take the initiative to develop a proper tack cleaning regimen. Many tack items can last a lifetime when properly cared for. This little bit of extra effort will even save you money in the long run as you replace things less frequently.
4. Encourage recycling at your barn
What happens to all of those empty water bottles, shampoo bottles, and other plastic packaging we go through at the stable? If your barn does not already have recycling, consider talking to the owner about setting up a recycling bin. To maximize recycling, create a sign that outlines what items can and cannot be put into the recycling bin.
5. Swap plastic bottles and Styrofoam coffee cups for something reusable
It is not uncommon to see trash bins at horse shows overflowing with plastic bottles and Styrofoam coffee cups. Instead of reaching for these single use items, invest in a reusable water bottle and coffee mug to bring with you. Metal bottles and mugs will help reduce plastic waste and keep your drinks hot or cold for much longer than single-use containers.
6. Make your own fly spray
Re-use those empty fly spray bottles and try making your own! Most store-bought fly sprays contain ingredients that can be irritating to both you and your horse’s skin and lungs. There are many simple recipes for DIY fly spray using apple cider vinegar and essential oils. If DIY isn’t your thing, consider buying fly spray by the gallon and re-filling older spray bottles. This will help cut back the number of plastic containers used.
7. Look for products made from recycled or plant-based materials
Many equine supply companies are starting to offer more eco-friendly alternatives by creating products made from recycled materials. WeatherBeeta, Oaklyn Tack, Horseware Ireland, Fortex, and Ariat are just a few examples of companies that are starting to offer products made from recycled plastic or from biodegradable materials. Support these options and we may see the trend grow with time.
8. Support Small Businesses
Another great way to be a sustainable equestrian is to support small businesses whenever possible. There are a ton of small businesses to chose from when it comes to equine products or equestrian clothing. Small businesses often have a much smaller carbon footprint than large corporations do. You are more likely to find sustainable products with minimal packaging, and you will make someone’s day every time you purchase from a small business.