Looking for ways to trim your horse budget? Besides helping the environment and being “green,” another benefit of recycling is it saves money! It can reduce your trash bill, offer you free or low-cost horsey items, improve your pasture (as with the use of compost) so that you have more forage and less hay billsÉ  the opportunities are endless! 

Recycling and using recycled products at home and on the farm or ranch provides us with several important benefits. Recycling reduces the amount of trash in landfill sites, which cuts down on the cost of waste disposal and the clearing of more land for new landfills. Decomposing waste can release noxious gases and chemicals as it decomposes, potentially creating air and water pollution. In addition, most waste is not biodegradable. It hangs out in the landfills for hundreds of years, just sitting there, piling up with the rest of the trash. Recycling also helps preserves wildlife. When fewer trees are cut down to make new wood products, or for space for landfills, than that means more habitat for wildlife and trails for us to ride on!

So here are a few tips to help jump-start your thinking on how you can recycle around your horse property, save a few bucks in the process, and become a greener horse keeper. 

1) Used conveyor belting makes a great, inexpensive substitute for rubber stall mats. Use them in stalls, aisleways, walkways, wash racks or grooming areas. Check with local gravel quarries to see if they have spent conveyer belting available for free or at a low cost. When you pick up the belting, you will need a pick-up truck without a canopy as usually quarries roll up belting to lift it using a forklift. Sometimes they will cut them for you, so it might help to know the lengths you’d like before you go.

2) Buying used items from Internet exchange sites is another great option. Materials exchange websites are in many parts of the country. These websites provide a convenient way to locate used or surplus building materials and household items that are available in your community at any given time. You may be able to find surplus lumber along with other materials such as hogfuel, lime, fencing supplies, plastic barrels (great cut length-wise as feeders or, with the addition of a spigot, made into water storage for the trailer), farm equipment, barn paint, doors, window frames, used conveyer belting and lots more! To find an exchange for your location search under “materials exchange” or “waste exchange” and your state, country, region or city name. Don’t forget to look on farm and garden sections on Craigslist or similar Internet sites for other good horsey bargains.

3) Purchasing used tack or show clothes is a great opportunity for recycling. A great source for used tack may be through your local county 4-H or pony club. Contact your county extension office for information on 4-H as well as for contacts for other horse organizations. Horse clubs often stage large, yearly tack sales that offer exciting bargain-hunting opportunities.

Compost pile

Composting reuses and recycles natural materials into a beneficial “black gold” which can be applied to lawns, gardens, and pastures.

4) Wooden pallets are the mainstay of the shipping industry. These are the flat, wooden structures that goods are stacked upon, secured with strapping and often stretch-wrap, and easily moved with a fork lift. The byproduct of all of that shipping is the often discarded stacks of pallets. To locate free, used pallets in your area keep an eye out for them around industrial sections, warehouses, and storage yards. Often times a pile is placed near the road with a “free” sign attached. Depending on the condition of the pallets you recover, you may be able to put them to use in all sorts of capacities around a horse property, from walls for compost bins, cute stall doors (for less “testy” beasts such as dogs or ponies) and fencing. Don’t forget to use pallets for storing and stacking things off the ground such as feed, hay, lime, grass seed, etc. I have even seen pallets dissected and the wood reused to create lovely, new structures.

5) The ultimate recycling on horse properties is composting! One horse creates a serious manure pile in no time–about 50 pounds of manure per day, over eight tons per year. Add to that the eight to 10 gallons of urine a horse generates in a day and the wheelbarrow or more of bedding you use, and in no time at all you have a virtual manure mountain! Instead of letting all that good stuff become a waste, composting reuses and recycles these natural materials into a beneficial “black gold” that has many benefits when applied to lawns, gardens, and pastures.

Since we’re all a little more aware of finances these days, now is a great time to benefit from the potential rewards of recycling on horse properties. It can save energy and landfill space, potentially create new jobs, reduce air and water pollution, preserve habitat for wildlife and save you money. 

Now that I’ve got you thinking about it, maybe you have some recycling ideas you’d like to share?