Equestrians make important choices daily when it comes to their horses, and choosing to be sustainable has become one of them. Whether it’s wearing products made from recyclable materials, reusing items, or buying from companies who use eco-friendly packaging, going green has become a major focus for horse owners.
Parasite control company Westgate Labs has been championing sustainable horse health for the past 22 years. The family-run business offers targeted postal-based programmes allowing owners to test their horses for parasites, and provides vet-approved follow-up advice from the company’s friendly team.
The company says it didn’t rest on its laurels during lockdown, investing in a new retail range of environmentally-friendly packaging. The unique design of the new lab testing kits transforms Westgate’s biodegradable product pouches into a return envelope to send the animal samples to the laboratory for testing. This enables the environmentally conscious company to be responsible for the full journey of the product from start to end, as everything can be returned to source.
Over the last 18 months thousands of pouches have come back through the post to be composted on the family farm where the lab was founded. The intention is for the material to be used for new tree planting on a 130-acre nature reserve that the family are establishing on reclaimed open-cast land. The site, Fen Letch, combines young mixed woodland, grassland and pond areas and already provides habitat for a wide range of species as well as contributing to important carbon sequestration.
“It was really exciting to see the first packs returned through the post in April last year,” said Claire Shand, director at Westgate Labs, who was instrumental in the design of the new packaging.
“The returns are keeping our chief composter, AKA our founding director David Booth, very busy in the bins balancing the green and brown waste ratios to help them rot down well. It’s so satisfying to be able to deal with all this waste ourselves and using it for our rewilding project means our packaging truly goes full circle!”
Four retail test kits are available in the range; horse worm egg counts, pinworm tests, avian worm counts and faecal sand tests. The lab is also working on a project to transition additional packaging from their website and merchant sales to more sustainable packaging options.
Another company leading the way on sustainability is feed manufacturer Dengie, which operates by the ethos, “Dengie doesn’t cost the earth”. The company says its commitment to sustainability remains at the heart of everything it does and it promises to “always be working hard” to improve.
Dengie launched more than 50 years ago and the farming families who founded the business are still the people growing the alfalfa used in its feeds, including Alfa-A Oil and Hi-Fi Molasses Free, today. Dengie’s alfalfa remains in the ground for three to four years, limiting tiling of the soil and its deep roots make it drought tolerant and beneficial for soil structure. Around the world alfalfa is recognised as being a great habitat for a diversity of insect species and pollinators, including bees.
In 2019 Dengie introduced 30% recycled plastic into its packaging and the company says it will include more recycled plastic as soon as it is viable to do so.
“Our bags have to work really hard – we have a long shelf life on products – up to 8 months in some cases – and so paper or biodegradable products aren’t really an option yet,” explains a Dengie spokesman.
“Creating an outlet for used plastic is a huge step in creating a closed loop system for plastic until viable alternatives become available. It is therefore a huge achievement on the part of our suppliers that they have all been able to introduce at least 30% recycled plastic into our bags without compromising on the quality and reliability of the packaging. It is all the more impressive as the packaging can still be recycled where facilities exist when you’re finished with it.”
As well as supporting key partners with the same sustainability ethos including the Essex Wildlife Trust and Cool Earth, this year Dengie started working towards bronze level accreditation with Investors in the Environment. This requires Dengie to demonstrate continuous improvement – and already the company has introduced solar panels that provide enough electricity to power its administration office, and from this month Dengie will use electricity sourced from green energy sources for manufacturing use.
Equestrians know how important good quality outdoor wear is and outdoor enthusiasts Toggi says it is continuing to take steps towards a greener future and pledges to improve its carbon footprint every year.
Steps Toggi has taken include the introduction of biodegradable poly bags and the use of recycled and recyclable card swing tickets on products. The company has removed woven care and sizing labels and print these on the garments instead, and no hangers are included in shipped products.
In its latest range of eco-friendly outerwear, Toggi has launched the Rural Lightweight Gilet, crafted from quality 100% recycled polyester fabric. The gilet is heat sealed and finished with a superior water repellant finish and filled with 80/20 ethical down feather filling. Featuring a two-way YKK zip, zip pockets and internal patch pockets, the gilet is finished with printed Liberty fabric inner trims and Toggi-branded leather look patch and zips. Colour: Sage. Size: 8-18. Cost £90.
As well as its eco-friendly products, the company’s goals include further reducing its waste to landfill by 40%, increasing recycled product use by 30% and increasing its renewable energy use by 20% by year end 2022.
“Our brands are committed to reducing waste, using renewable energy wherever possible, recycling of materials; sourcing alternative fabrics and technologies, reducing our carbon footprint, and monitoring our every activity to make improvements,” says a Toggi spokesman.
Giving equestrians more sustainable choices in riding wear is clothing brand Aztec Diamond with the launch of the company’s “A New Era” dynamic collection. Celebrating the “power of evolution”, while “pushing the boundaries of what equestrian fashion can be” the 2021 collection combines innovative design and technical features. The company says with ground-breaking fabrication, environmental consciousness and contemporary style, the range reflects the ever evolving influence of equestrian lifestyle, technology and current trends of the rider.
The collection’s high-performance and cutting-edge riding legging are constructed from fibres made from recycled bottles. These “smart fibres” use new petroleum, reducing CO2 emissions while conserving water and energy in the process.
Reflecting on the A New Era collection Aztec Diamond chief executive Jordan McCabe says it’s “definitely a tougher route” to go down with a longer development process involved, but the company is “passionate” about pressing the issues of global warming and how the fashion industry is affecting it.
“I know everything can’t be done at once, however we want to do the most that we can to ensure the brand is as sustainable as possible. If everyone made even the smallest of changes, it would make the biggest difference,” says Jordan.