Recycling Down on the Farm

5 Ways to Save Money (and the Environment)

by Alayne Blickle, Horses for Clean Water


December 2017
Used conveyer belt is an inexpensive substitute for rubber mats. Photo courtesy Alayne Blickle

Looking for ways to trim your horse budget? Recycling and repurposing helps the environment and saves money. It reduces your trash bill, offers you free or low-cost horsey items, and improves your pasture (as with the use of compost) so that you have more forage and fewer hay bills. The financial gains are many!

Repurposing and reusing items at home and on the farm 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 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 preserve wildlife—fewer trees are cut down to make new wood products or space for landfills and that means more habitat for wildlife and trails for us to ride on!

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

1) Find used conveyor belting. Used conveyer belts are an inexpensive substitute for rubber stall mats. Use them in stalls, aisles, 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. To transport the belting you’ll need a pickup truck without a canopy as quarries usually roll up belting and load it using a fork lift. Sometimes they will cut them for you, so it might help to know the lengths you’d like.

2) Buy used items from Craigslist, Habitat for Humanity, or similar sites. Found all over the country, these provide a convenient way to locate used or surplus materials for low cost—or possibly free in the case of Craigslist. Habitat for Humanity primarily has building materials and Craigslist can have anything. Look for things like surplus lumber for building structures or fences, railroad ties for compost bins or retaining walls, used farm equipment, and food-grade plastic barrels, which can be cut lengthwise for feeders.

3) Purchase used tack or show clothes. 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 and contacts for other horse organizations. Horse clubs often stage large, yearly tack sales that offer exciting bargain hunting opportunities.

4) Wooden pallets. These are the flat, wooden, structures that goods are stacked on and are the mainstay of the shipping industry. The byproduct of all of the shipping is the oft-discarded stacks of pallets. To locate free, used pallets in your area keep an eye out for them around industrial sections, warehouses, or storage yards. Often 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 or cute stall doors (for less “testy” beasts such as dogs or ponies) to maybe even 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 disassembled and the wood reused to create lovely, new structures.

5) Compost! This is the ultimate recycling on horse properties. One horse creates a serious manure pile in no time—about 50 pounds of manure per day and over eight tons per year. Add to that the 8 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 waste, reuse and recycle these natural materials into a beneficial “black gold” which has many benefits when applied to lawns, gardens, and pastures.

Most of us horse folks are quite conscious of finances, so help yourself by repurposing and recycling on your horse property. It saves energy and landfill space, potentially creates new jobs, reduces air and water pollution, preserves habitat for wildlife, and saves money.

Check out the Horses for Clean Water website for upcoming events, educational handouts, and more at


Originally Published December 2017 Issue

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