On June 27th 2019 the UK Government legislated for net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and 2045 in Scotland. It is a serious target and if it is to be achieved, we all have a part to play.

As an individual you can do your bit. Some changes are being forced upon us and have developed an improved consumer attitude. The humble plastic grocery bag is of course one of the more recent changes that has impacted us all. But even good ideas are easy to get wrong and it is suggested that plastic waste has risen as 1.5 billion Bags for Life have been sold instead of the use once variety. They need to be used at least 4 times to be better for the environment; Greenpeace research has found and contributed to the annual estimated 900,000 tonnes of plastic produced by supermarkets. Campaigners are now calling for higher charges or a better still a complete ban.

So as horse owners what changes can we make that will lessen the plastic burden? Well in addition to choosing a cotton, hessian or string shopping bag and using the ‘Bag for Life lurking in the kitchen drawer as many times as humanly possible, while vowing never to purchase one again, there is much we can do. The good news too, is that as a community, acting together, we can have greater impact.

 

At See Change Now we believe the best way to start is with an open mind and careful thought. If it’s made from plastic it will take up to 500 years to degrade and will end up somewhere when you have finished using it.

If you approach every purchase, every need and every want with that thought in mind you can begin to discover alternatives to your usual way of doing things.

One of our favourite eco horse care tips is simple; it’s easy and we actually prefer using the eco-friendly version.  The humble lead rope, we all use them, almost without exception and as a community if we made the switch to cotton or wool (UK manufactured) even better. It is truly small changes in our thinking that will bring about change. There are just under a million horses in the UK, 436, 000 horse-owning households so just by making a switch to a biodegradable alternative you can begin to see how the equine community can take the lead! But please don’t get rid of your current lead rope, just remember when it comes time to replace them.

Valuing our belongings is so important and a habit many of us have forgotten. Easy to do when cheaper goods manufactured in high volume can be purchased at very little cost. Plastic crops and whips, previously always made in leather and natural fibres, crafted with skill and care provide a classic example. The cost of course is greater but how many replacement whips, casually forgotten, dropped and mislaid does it take to treat yourself to a well-made item that will last, be valued and above else not end up in a land fill travelling back to the country where once it came.  Gloves too, so often get discarded with the wind, low cost, manmade fibre gloves, packaged in plastic are an item we all stock up on. This year, if you can, look for a string, wool or leather pair. Look after them, value them and in time they will reward you and may even become lucky gloves you value them so much.

 

So, making eco-friendly choices is a start but often it is hard to avoid plastic, particularly the packaging. More manufactures and suppliers are committing to change and supporting brands that are making the switch is another powerful way you can demonstrate your support to the cause. A little bit of vocal lobbying too will go a long way to encouraging manufactures to make the switch. If your preferred feed supplier is still committed to plastic, ask why? Express your concern, together the message will be louder and clear which is sure to give confidence to suppliers that there is reason to change.

And change we will as all of us will be affected by the proposed plastic tax implemented by 2022. The additional cost to businesses will filter down to the consumer. Encourage change now and together avoid the additional cost levied at those that don’t act. Putting economics aside the environmental cost will be greater.

More eco horse care top tips from See Change Now

-Repurpose old dish cloths, socks and rags for tack cleaning, for eyes, nose and dock.

-Choose natural fibre grooming products – leather, bristle and wood – when it is time to replace what you are currently using.

-Repair rugs, clean and store carefully. Old chest freezers are rodent proof and the perfect size. A double win for the planet!

-Use hayracks, feed on the floor rather than nylon nets, and those you have can be repaired with old nylon twine and kept for the lorry.

-Give old tooth brushes a new lease of life; perfect for cleaning, bits, treads and buckles.

-Avoid fleece, wash in bags designed to catch micro fibres. We find horses much prefer cotton and wool fibres.

-Choose UK manufactured products (think air miles) and save your pounds and the planet with plastic-free options.

 

Previously published in Northern Horse Magazine