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Refuse to Use: Are Your Recyclables Being Recycled?

The goal of our Refuse to Use campaign is to refuse to use single-use plastics and reduce overall plastic consumption.

Rethink the 3 R’s. They are strategically ordered. Reduce, Reuse, and then Recycle.

Reduce your consumption first. In terms of Refuse to Use, minimize your plastic use by purchasing in bulk, sourcing alternative product packaging, and selecting durable items that last. Reuse materials as often as you can – save supplement buckets for the wash rack and repair your broken items. If you need to use it, Recycle anything that can be recycled.

It is often difficult to avoid plastic use. Many of our favorite equine products contain plastics, including fly spray, supplements, pitchforks, and grain bags. If we must use plastics, we should be doing everything we can to reduce our consumption, maximize the lifespan of these products, and recycle everything that can be recycled.

Wire baling is a recyclable alternative to plastic twine.

Why reduce and reuse before we recycle? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only 8.3% of the country’s plastic was recycled in 2018. Many products that are labeled as “recyclable” are not accepted by all recycling facilities. The recycle label means that it is possible to recycle. It does not mean that your local recycling facilities have the ability to recycle each kind of plastic. Facilities are generally are limited in what types of plastic they can recycle. Plastics 1 and 2 are the most commonly accepted, as there is a smaller market for types 3-7. Plastics that are not recycled often end up landfills or are incinerated to make room for more plastic to collect. If you need to use plastics in your barn, try to limit your use types that are recyclable in your area.

Don’t be discouraged, just be aware! There are plenty of ways we can use creativity to reuse, repurpose, or recycle. If your horse rips a polyester blanket, consider patching with a piece from an older blanket before purchasing a new one. Instead of lining trash bins with a plastic bag, repurpose empty shavings and grain bags. Moral of the story: The more we are aware of the facts and conscious of our consumption, the more “trash” we can divert from landfills. One man’s trash is another man’s sustainable treasure!

For more information on “recyclable” product labeling, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guide.

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