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Sustainability Spotlight: Green Is the New Blue

May 19, 2020

In everyday life when we consume something, we most likely (hopefully) ask the question ‘can this be recycled?’ especially when it comes to glass, plastic or paper. However, in the horse world, unfortunately that is not as common, but thanks to a new environmental initiative called “Green Is the New Blue” created by lifelong equestrian, Stephanie Bulger, that is about to change. The Tech Equestrian had a chance to catch up with Stephanie recently to share her ideas, plans and overall focus of the organization.

The Enchanted Horse Stephanie grew up in New York City and came from a family that loved animals but weren’t very familiar with equines. “My mom says that I used to be enchanted by the horses I saw in Central Park and was quite vocal about my desire to learn to ride from basically the moment I could talk,” shared Stephanie. Luckily her persistence paid off and at the age of five, she started riding lessons at a stable in Amagansett, NY (Long Island). She loved it so much, the days she wasn’t riding, she was miserable that she wasn’t in the saddle. “My family came to terms that riding was not something I was going to grow out of and have been very supportive.”

“Today, I am blessed to have a barn full of incredible four-legged animals.” Stephanie enjoys competing in the adult and amateur owner hunter divisions as well as being an owner of a Grand Prix horse whose rider is Heather Caristo Williams. She also owns several rescue mini horses and one rescue mini donkey who bring her family much joy and laughter.

The Launch Green Is the New Blue, an environmental conservation organization, launched officially in June of last year at the Upperville Colt and Horse Show. “This project has been in the works - from a dreaming and planning standpoint - for nearly a year prior to the show,” said Stephanie. The idea for Green Is the New Blue started when Stephanie was grazing a horse at a top show on the East Coast and she noticed so much trash and litter on the ground. “I looked around and realized there were no recycling bins anywhere and very few garbage cans at all.” From that point on, she realized the sport and overall horse industry are heavy users of single use plastic from medicine tubes, baling twine, shavings bags, and so much more. 

“After researching and speaking with people, I was surprised to find how much misinformation is out there,” Stephanie recalled. “This goes for everyone, not just horse people,” she added. The misinformation starts in the belief that when we put something in the correct recycle bin it will be taken care of. But in reality, most of what we think is being recycled just gets tossed out once it arrives at the facility. If there is one thing she would stress the most, it is to REDUCE more than recycle. Further educating herself, Stephanie learned that plastic can only be recycled once; the polymers change and become unusable. The good news is that glass and metal can be recycled an unlimited number of times - because glass is harder to create from scratch, it is actually more cost-effective to reuse and recycle glass, making it the best item to buy at the store. “This knowledge has completely changed how I consume beverages,” said Stephanie and unless there are no other substitutes or options, she doesn’t buy plastic bottles at all. 

“One of the main goals of our organization is to affect major change in the industry, using our horse world to make the world at large a better place for our kids and animals.”

Low Eco-Awareness in the Horse World “Another reason to introduce ‘Green Is the New Blue’ is that I was saddened to see just how little eco consciousness has permeated the horse world. If you think about how much single source plastic use there and it adds up to become a big problem,” Stephanie stressed. She has received a good amount of support from people who want to do better, but unfortunately the producers of horse related products currently don’t provide eco-friendly options. 

A Cause for All “We don’t have a target audience for this initiative - because one of the things I’m most proud of about Green Is the New Blue is its inclusivity. We can all make a difference by taking small steps, making manageable changes, and using our voices to inspire change,” exclaimed Stephanie. Their goal is to inspire and motivate horse people at large and encourage bringing the community together to solve a problem. Her team consists of Stephanie and her dear friend and mentor, Scot Evans, who is the director of the foundation. “He and I go way back – almost 20 years – to our work together at the Equestrian Aid Foundation, and I’m so thrilled to have someone of his caliber working with me.” They also appreciate the hard work from Emily Cleland who helps with mailings and social media, as well as Michael Cruciotti from M.A.C. Sports International who is helping with the big-picture strategy concepts. Lastly and very important, they have a team of committed volunteers. Feedback from Near and Far “I’m overwhelmed by the positive feedback and so humbled by the reaction and support from all corners of the horse community,” said Stephanie in regards to introducing the concept of Green Is the New Blue. She has heard directly from participants from all over the country, including from every discipline helping her work harder on overcoming challenges and setbacks.

Promoting Green Is the New Blue has been done via social media, horse publications and horse show sponsorships to help get the brand and message out there. Stephanie shared that they have gotten the most feedback and engagement from magazine publications to date, but they are just ramping up their social presence and promotions. 

On the Horizon “Our plans for 2020 have been somewhat put on hold due to the Covid-19 situation,” explained Stephanie. With horse shows being cancelled or postponed, she is looking forward to the fall, especially the Equitana equine expo which will be held in Lexington, Kentucky. “Green Is the New Blue will anchor their eco-conscious initiatives by bringing together products and practices that we support and introducing them to the public. We are also going to provide educational materials as well as present on a panel discussion.”

“Ideally we are hoping to get more involved in facilities themselves and work to help them implement changes that will pay off from an environmental standpoint in the future, including solar panels, rainwater collection, and compost capabilities which can make a huge difference at a big facility such as the Virginia Horse Center.” They also have plans to become more involved with the IHSA. “Kids are our future, and I truly believe we have more to learn from them than they do from us,” said Stephanie. 

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