My sustainability journey

June 24, 2019

My sustainability journey

My sustainability journey 

Zoe Kiff, Founder of Honest Riders

In December 2013 I stumbled upon post on Facebook that changed my life. It was one of those awful videos that pop up every now and then where a rabbit was having some chemical drops forced into his eyes, sat in a tiny metal cage surrounded by other rabbits and animals that were suffering similar kinds of tests. I was shocked. No way could this still be happening, in this day and age, surely?! At the end of the video, it listed a number of make-up brands that were conducting tests on animals with their products and ingredients. Of those 20 or so brands listed, I was using products from 7 of them.

Now I’m no eco-warrior, but as an animal lover, this shook me to the core. How come, in this day and age, we are still testing on animals for our own vanity? Upon further research, I discovered that it wasn’t just make-up brands, it was skincare, household cleaning products…pet care!!

According to Cruelty Free International the UK is now the biggest reported user of animals in the EU with 3.79 million experiments reported in 2017.

It is estimated that there were 318,259 experiments on rabbits, 3,851 on cats, 11,250 on horses and 22,967 on dogs.

The majority of testing in the UK is for medicine and scientific developments as testing for cosmetics is banned. However, if you buy from brands that sell to countries where tests on animals are compulsory, their ingredients and products will have to have been tested (for example, China).

In January 2014 I made a new years resolution to rid my life of any brands that tested on animals. I’ve never looked back.

Zoe Kiff and her horse 'Trevor'The months that followed were a period of research and discovery. The more I dug into animal-tested products, the more I became conscious of all the other damaging impacts my purchases were having. Chemicals going onto my skin, my dogs skin, my horses skin. Chemicals being washed into the oceans, micro-plastics, sea-life killed off by plastic bottles, errant helium balloons wrapping round the necks of turtles and penguins. It was never-ending!After feeling incredibly frustrated and upset by the situation we find ourselves in, I realised that whilst I couldn’t change the world with my own two hands, there were things I could do that would help reduce my own personal negative impact on the environment.

So I made changes to the products I spent my money on, the ingredients I chose to put on my skin and that of my beloved 4-leggeds. I changed small things, over a period of time that have taken me to a place where I feel better about my sustainability and more informed about the impact of my choices.

I thought I’d have to make compromises on the quality and efficacy of the products if they were cruelty-free and natural – how wrong I was! Throughout this period I tried and tested SO many incredible brands. Most of them are not big businesses, the products were designed and made by individuals and collectives that really care about the products they sell. By buying from them, it doesn’t just improve my quality of life and carbon footprint; it supports and grows the passions of others too!

Fast-forward to 2017 and the start of Honest Riders. I started Honest Riders because of a love of horses, a love of fashion and a lifelong dream to combine the two. As the business plan emerged, it became obvious that I absolutely had to build sustainability into the core of the business. As a result, Honest Riders only sells the products and brands that I feel comfortable using on my horses and myself. You can find out more about our ethos here.

My journey probably isn’t unusual. Chances are animal testing, the use of harmful chemicals and materials, plastic pollution and other environmental issues are things that concern you too. That’s why we’ve decided to encourage the equestrian community to come together and make positive changes. So that we can all feel better about our carbon footprint and more informed about the decisions we make.

I’d really love as many of you as possible to take part in the #RidersOnAMission Challenge. Pick your 5 small changes – choose things that you feel passionately about. Pick things you know you can start TODAY.

Commit to them for 30 days by sharing your chosen 5 on your social media – your friends can help keep you accountable. We’ve got loads of amazing tips from other brands that care about the environment too, along with the brands and shops I’ve discovered on my journey too.

Thanks for reading and being part of the difference.