“Refuse To Use” with Green Is the New Blue

Written by Anna Zygadlo for Green Is the New Blue

Green Is the New Blue is a non-profit dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of horse shows, educating equestrians, and supporting the movement for a sustainable sport.  Our “Refuse to Use” campaign highlights the necessity of refusing to use single-use plastics, sourcing alternative products, and reusing material whenever possible.

Bill Rube of Gleneayre Equestrian Program n Lumerton, NJ, practices recycling with GITNB. Photo courtesy of GITNB

“It’s so important to not just recycle but to reduce the need for recycling,” explained R. Scot Evans, the creative director for Green is the New Blue. “The chilling facts are real: there are eight trillion pieces of single-use plastic currently circulating in the oceans around the world. It’s no longer about just picking up a piece of plastic and recycling it, it’s about refusing to use it.” The harsh reality is that many plastic bottles never actually get recycled, even if placed into recycling bins.

What We’re Doing

In order to combat single-use plastics on the showgrounds, Green Is the New Blue implemented touch-free water refill stations, allowing riders to bring their own reusable water bottles and safely fill them with clean water. In a modified effort to combat Covid-19, our partners have provided Boxed Water Is Better™ at select horse shows around the country. We know that plastic and other recyclable materials may still find a way onto the showgrounds, so recycling bins are strategically placed next to all trash cans at our partner events.

At Green Is the New Blue, we also work with vendors at our partner horse shows to minimize waste and switch to more environmentally friendly product packaging. There are many affordable alternatives to single-use plastics that can be incorporated into equestrian and restaurant business practices. At the Aiken Horse Park, we collaborated with Angela and Kory Merrill of Perks With a Twist, now one of the horse show world’s leaders in sustainable food service. Every serving product (think to-go boxes, plasticware, and napkins) used in the café is now compostable, using materials such as sugar cane, eliminating the waste the business sends out into the world after use.

Compostable food packaging at the Aiken Horse Park by Perks With A Twist. Photo by Split Rock Jumping Tour

As individuals, what can we do to reduce plastic use on a day-to-day basis? At Green Is the New Blue, we have a list of some of the ways you can reduce plastic in your daily life as an equestrian.

  1. Implement a recycling program.

    No matter how hard you try, plastics are going to make it onto the property. Maximize participation with easy access to recycling bins and very clear labeling. Ensure items placed in bins are clean and do not contaminate other materials.

  2. Repair items before replacing.

    Repair wheelbarrows, reinforce broken pitchforks with twine, and replace a single zipper rather than the whole pair of boots. Over time, many items will break with use. Repair what you can and keep items in circulation as long as possible. When purchasing tools, choose products with easily replaceable parts so you can repair the broken piece rather than replace the whole item. Avoid planned obsolescence, or consumer goods intended to be replaced and disposed of quickly.

  3. Repurpose items when possible.

    Skip the trash bag and line your bins with a grain or shavings bag that may otherwise be sent straight to a landfill. Grain bags are recyclable, although very few recycling facilities currently accept this type of plastic. Supplement buckets can be repurposed for bathing and storage.

  4. If there is an alternative to plastic, choose it.

    Purchase aluminum instead of plastic when possible, such as sweat scrapers, curry combs, tail combs, and grain scoops. Source hay baled with steel wire as opposed to plastic twine.

  5. Upcycle Jumps and Avoid PVC.

    PVC contains harmful chemicals, making it difficult and dangerous to recycle. Avoid using it for fencing and jumps. Instead, create your jump course using upcycled materials, such as pallets, rowboats, and doors. For more course design inspiration, check out our new monthly column “JumpCycled: Setting Greener Standards.”

  6. Purchase fly spray and other items in bulk.

    If you need to purchase solutions bottled in single-use plastics, choose higher concentrations in large containers. Save plastic by diluting the concentrate and refilling the same spray bottle.

  7. Purchase and store shavings in bulk.

    If you have the storage space, skip the individually bagged shavings and choose bulk shavings, which is generally more cost effective. If you must use bags, try to choose paper rather than plastic. Paper shavings bags can be repurposed as poultice paper. Many plastic shavings bags are recyclable, so check if your local facility will accept that plastic type and deposit in bulk. Make sure to shake out the bags well, as they will not be accepted if they are contaminated with shavings.

  8. Install a water refill station at the barn.

    Encourage riders to bring their own reusable water bottles and refill them at the barn. If you do supply single-use cups, choose compostable materials and small sizes.

  9. Reusable containers and bags are your friend.

    Pack your lunch in a reusable container to reduce plastic use. Take-out often involves single-use plastics and foam containers. If you do get takeout, save the takeout container for meal prep. There is no need to purchase your own containers when you can repurpose things like capped yogurt cups and sauce jars. And of course, don’t forget your reusable bag when grocery shopping or heading to the tack shop.

  10. Equestrians love coffee and need the caffeine.

    Add a coffee maker to your tack room and encourage others to refill a cup, rather than leave the barn and purchase coffee in single-use cups. Also, choose your coffee brand strategically. Choose shade-grown options and opt for a reusable filter or French press to minimize the environmental impact of your coffee habit.

Don’t forget to reduce and reuse first to lessen the need for recycling. To learn more about our “Refuse to Use” campaign and read more educational articles, visit our website and social media.

Recycling bins at the ingate of Split Rock Jumping Tour.
Photo by Split Rock Jumping Tour

How to Create a “Living Jump” at Your Farm

BarnManager is thrilled to welcome environmental non-profit group Green is the New Blue to shed some light on sustainability in the equestrian world. Green is the New Blue is an environmental non-profit that strives to reduce the environmental impacts of equine related events and activities. The organization encourages others to incorporate green practices into daily operations both at horse shows and at home.

GINTB has two simple goals: to educate the equine industry about best practices for sustainability and ecological safety, and to provide the tools to make these changes easy and straight-forward to implement.

Founded by amateur rider Stephanie Bulger when she realized the detrimental impact horse events and venues had on the environment, GITNB is dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of horse shows and inspiring equestrians to do their part to live sustainably.

Look out for future pieces from Green Is the New Blue as we update you on more ways to go green in your barn!

How to create your living jump:

Green Is the New Blue has developed the concept of a “Living Jump” to promote biodiversity and support species that enhance ecosystem resilience. To build a Living Jump at your facility, all you need to do is source plants from a local nursery using native species that support pollinators and create habitats for other insects, such as ladybugs. Check out the steps below to see how to build your biodiverse jump course!

Biodiversity describes the overall variety of living things in the ecosystem, from microorganisms, to plants, to horses and their riders. Biodiversity is important because it provides us with vital resources such as food, water, shelter, medicine, and fuel. A biodiverse environment is also more resilient in the face of disaster. When equestrians source native plants within the course design and farm landscaping processes, they help to sustain local environments that, in turn, sustain human life.

The “Living Jump” at the Aiken Horse Park’s International Hunter Derby included South Carolina’s native species Ligustrum, Liriope, and Lantana. Photo: A&S Photography

1. Identify native plant species

Native species are those that live in the same ecosystem where they originated. Non-native species are those that do not naturally occur in an area, such as Alberta Spruce in a Florida hunter ring (they look like miniature Christmas trees!). Some species are invasive, meaning they cause ecological harm as they exist in an environment where they did not originate. Try to choose native plants that provide habitat for a variety of other species, such as pollinators. We recommend using the National Wildlife Federation’s Native Plant Finder to be sure you’re including beneficial species.

2. Source plants from a local nursery.

Once you have identified a list of species to include in your Living Jump, coordinate with a local nursery for pickup. Just as you would support local businesses in other aspects of life, such as your local tack or feed store, it is important to source plants from local nurseries that provide biodiversity benefits to your local ecosystem. If the plants were not grown on site, local nurseries are more likely to know where and how the plants were initially grown. Additionally, plants are often healthier when they are sourced and cared for locally, as opposed to being transported in bulk to department stores.

3. Build your jump to fit your arena.

Time to get creative! Build up your Living Jump using your locally sourced, native plants. If you want more spook for your hunter derby mount, add more elements. If you want to tone it down, build it smaller with fewer varieties of plants. Even with smaller jumps, you can still include plenty of beneficial species around the ring. Decorate according to your needs for horse, rider, or equine facility. Add plants to in-gates, jump standards, below rails, and anywhere else around the ring.

4. Reuse

It is important not to discard plants after they serve their purpose in the ring. With just a bit of research for each species, it’s possible to replant and harvest many species to use again next year. No space to replant? Consider gifting or returning them to a nursery or other facility that is better equipped to this. If you are hosting a single event, it is often possible to rent plants and return them later.

5. Share!

Once you’ve created your Living Jump, take lots of photos and spread the word on social media and with friends and family. When others see what you have created, you’ll inspire them to do the same, leading to more biodiversity among horse farms, increased business for local nurseries, and something pretty to have around the farm.

 

Find out more about Green Is the New Blue by following them on Instagram and Facebook, and by visiting their website.