Friday, August 27, 2021

A Look At 'Wild At Heart' Horse Sanctuary

Between having grandparents who lived on a dairy farm in the Central Valley and growing up in the middle of nowhere around horse and cattle pastures, I have had my fair share of experience around livestock. My experience mucking out corrals and tending to animals, along with having an open Saturday morning, were what lead me to the Wild At Heart horse sanctuary on the west side of Lancaster, California, after I saw a post on a local community page on Facebook asking for volunteers. 

I drove out to 70th Street West and Avenue H on a warm Saturday morning to an unassuming horse property in the desert. Walking down a short dirt road past the farmhouse I found a sign indicating I was at the right place, and I waved at the first person I saw. A volunteer (I'm sorry I forgot your name! I'm really bad at names!) directed me to one of the founders, Leslie, and after a brief introduction and signing off on a liability waiver I got a hose and a brush and started scrubbing down water troughs. 

A 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Wild At Heart was established in 2015 to take in, rehabilitate, and adopt out horses in need in the Antelope Valley, and permanently board and care for horses that have special needs or high maintenance requirements. With over 30 years of experience with horses and their care, Leslie is well qualified to take on the role of a unique but much needed service in the area. 

I'm glad I spent so many of my childhood and teen years climbing the fences in the fields outside my home town, because I did a lot of that going from corral to corral, dumping water and scrubbing the gunk out of horse troughs. It's also good that I'm accustomed to manure because one horse-- I didn't get his name, but he was a good boy-- saw the mud puddle I had created with his dirty trough water and decided to cool off by splashing around in it. While I was also hot in the summer sun I wasn't really intending to be in the splash zone of mud and manure, but that's what to expect with working with livestock; you're going to get dirty.

Once all the troughs were clean and I pet as many horses as I could, I made my goodbyes with Leslie and told her I would be back. It was a pretty good workout, which would be enough for me to return, but it's more than that; I like being around horses. The opportunity to scratch their giant heads and pet their massive ears is something I don't often have these days, and knowing I can be a part of the welfare of animals in need is rewarding in its own right. Plus, with horses and cows, they poop. A lot. And they eat and drink. A lot. There's always a need for a helping hand at the sanctuary, and if I can give it I will. 

If you're not afraid to get a little dirty or break a sweat, they have opportunities to volunteer on Saturdays and (I think) Wednesdays. If you want to check out the horses, try horseback riding, or want to adopt, they're open from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Plus, if you're looking for another fun way to support the organization, the 2nd Annual Cowboy Bash in Leona Valley will be held on September 25th and will have food, drinks, music, a silent auction, and pony rides, with proceeds going toward the sanctuary. Be sure to check them out on Facebook for more information.

It's a great organization and another hidden gem in the Antelope Valley, and I hope you take some time to check them out!

Friday, August 6, 2021

My Attempt To Be Less Trashy, pt. 3: Clothing

This is another installment of my series "My Attempt To Be Less Trashy" where I share things I have and do to try curbing my environmental impact. Like I've said before, even though I'm not the best at zero- or low-waste living, an attempt to be mindful is better than not trying at all, and you can read about my swaps and habit changes I've previously written about here and here.

Clothing is something that has a serious impact on the environment. In the early half of the last century there were two seasons for clothes: Cold and Not-So-Cold. The average wardrobe wasn't typically too extensive (even though men often wore suits every day, they would have maybe a couple suits they wore in rotation). Today, thanks in part to companies wanting to turn a profit, there are up to 52 seasons for fashion-- one per week, just so fast fashion boutiques can pump out something new for people to buy. As a result, the textile industry is the second largest polluter on the planet. That doesn't even factor in the water used to wash garments after we buy them! There are things we can all do to curb our impact in regards to buying clothes, and a few things I've done are pretty easy: 

Detergent strips

Awhile back I started using laundry detergent strips, mostly to see what they were like. Considering liquid detergent is liquid because of it being mostly water, I didn't feel like spending more money on a plastic tub of blue-dyed watery soap. I used powdered detergent for ages for that exact reason too, but I figured the strips would make for less mess, and I was right. In my experience, detergent strips, which are about the size of a couple sticks of gum side-by-side, wash just as well as any detergent I've ever used, all while biodegradable and in a lightweight, recyclable package. Even switching from liquid detergent to powdered is a good first step to save water, and washing everything cold is a great way to save energy too, but if you want to save on packaging and overusing detergent, strips are a great option. 

(Also, sidebar, they're great for travel if you don't want to pack liquid or powdered detergent in your suitcase!)

Re-wearing clothes

More often than not, I wear the same shirt at least a couple times before washing it. I wear my jeans and shorts a lot of times in a row before putting them through the wash, and flannels until they start to stink. I wash my chonies after every use, of course, and the clothes I run and work out in only get worn once before washing since they get pretty stinky pretty quickly, but by re-wearing a lot of my clothes I can not only save time doing fewer loads of laundry but also extend the life of my clothes by not washing and drying them so often. Plus, fortunately for me, I wear basically the same thing every day, so nobody has ever called me out for repeating an outfit. I doubt it would happen to you either, and even if it does it's their problem and not yours. If it smells fine and isn't too wrinkled wear it, who gives a shit.

Buying used

This goes for a lot of things, but clothing in particular is good to buy used. With so many new lines of clothes coming out every week, and apparently a market to buy a new outfit every week, a lot of clothes go to waste. Only 7% of people purchase used clothing, and only 28% donate used clothing to thrift stores, which is a problem because people buy five times as many clothes as they did in 1980. I still rock the $2 boots I found, and I've recently purchased a nice button-down through Patagonia's Worn Wear shop with credit I received from sending in a different Patagonia brand shirt in for repair. The company Darn Tough, which makes great socks, has a lifetime warranty on their products so you can exchange them instead of throwing out your old socks. There are ways to get clothes both affordably and with less of an environmental impact, and besides buying from companies that engage in sustainable practices in manufacturing the best way to do it is to buy secondhand. 

Fixing what you have

Again, this can go for a great many number of things, but repairing your clothes is one way to extend the life of your clothes. If you don't know how to sew, it's not too difficult to learn how to reattach a button or close up a hole in a seam of a shirt. Like I did with my $2 boots, if you have a pair of shoes that can be resoled you can keep a lot of material out of a landfill, and as I mentioned before, Patagonia's Worn Wear program can attempt to repair clothing you send in and, if they can't, they can repurpose the material of your clothing to be made into something else. I had an old pair of jeans that had a huge grease stain, but instead of tossing them I treated the stain until it was barely noticeable unless you really looked for it. and when they started to get holes in the I patched them up and wore them until they got too far gone, but even after that I made them into shorts. By using what you already have you can spare your wallet from buying the style of the week and the landfill from throwing out something with something repairable.

You can also hang-dry your laundry, use old clothing for crafting projects like quilts and the like, or be naked (it might not work well in mixed company and it might get cold eventually though, FYI), but there are things we can all do to curb our impact on the environment when it comes to the clothes we wear. It boils down to being a conscious consumer and taking care of the things we already have, in our clothing and everything else. 

Nobody likes a trashy person, and if you're like me and want to be less trashy there are choices we can make to be nicer to the planet.