Depending on where you live, you might still be seeing a winter wonderland outside your window. Nevertheless, spring really is right around the corner, and that means it’s time for spring cleaning at the barn.
What is your plan for your barn chemicals, like that expensive hoof polish you accidentally forgot to put the lid on one day and then found dried up in the corner of your tack trunk a few weeks later? What about the leftover fly spray from last summer that froze over the winter?
No one can really guess what you will find when you decide to do your spring cleaning, but first and foremost, never throw something away where it could end up in a stream, pond or natural waterway that might be on or near the property.
Similarly, don’t pour things like fly spray down the drain. Things like pesticides and herbicides need to be disposed of responsibly– you don’t want the pesticide that was meant for the weeds in the driveway to end up spilled in your horse’s grazing pasture.
In most cases, your local town or county will have a solid waste management facility, potentially a transfer station or a landfill. Most places have a program that will help you learn how to safely dispose of various items.
For example, in Nassau County, New York, the S.T.O.P. program (Stop Throwing Out Pollutants) provides county residents with a simple solution: load your car up with anything you don’t want potentially harming the environment or ending up in drinking water, and go to a designated location at a specific time. At that location, an environmental team will remove the items from your car.
Similarly, residents of Dallas, Texas are offered a free disposal service for home chemical waste at the Home Chemical Collection Center. Home Chemical Collection events are also provided by the Dallas Area Household Hazardous Waste Network.
While these services require you to be a resident of the county or city, there are sometimes still options for nonresidents. For example, if you are not a Dallas resident but still want to take advantage of the Home Chemical Collection event, you can pay a $95.00 waste management fee.
Drugs and Meds
Another category of items that inevitably builds up in a barn is horse medications. Prescription drugs and ointments aren’t exempt from the need for safe disposal. One example of the potential impact of improper medicine disposal is antibiotics. The antibiotics that are dumped down toilets or into natural waterways can end up in septic systems or sewage treatment plants. In some areas, rivers, lakes and streams receive the discharge from sewage treatment plants, and those bodies of water have measureable levels of antibiotics.
If you have horse medications that are expired or no longer needed, do not flush them down the toilet or a sink drain. Take them to the same kind of facility you visited for proper waste disposal.
Waste Management, an environmental service provider in North America that serves more than 20 million customers in the U.S. and Canada, provides states with Technical Service Centers – a resource were you can find more information about innovative and economical solutions that protect the environment. For more information and to find out how you can be environmentally responsible, visit wmsolutions.com.
You can also visit your federal and state government agency websites that support environmental efforts to learn more about the services available in your community.
And while the last thing a horse owner is likely to do is spend time on something unrelated to a horse, remember: your environment deserves nothing but the best. It’s where your horse lives, and it’s where you both get to spend your time together.
Allison Griest is a freelance writer based in Texas. Follow her on Twitter: @allisongriest.