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Sustainable Living at the Cottage

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

Reusable bag and leaves
Refuse, Reduce, Recycle and Re-use!

The days are longer, the weather is warmer… It's cottage time in Ontario Cottage Country! Time to relax, live care-free, finally read those books that have been collecting dust on the shelves… But does relaxation equate convenience? Food items that are convenient usually come with a lot of packaging which, in turn, creates a lot of waste. For outings to be convenient they often require the use of a car – faster but with the emission of toxins into the pine-scented air.

Reducing your waste and living sustainably do not have to be strenuous exercises that you leave at home while on vacation as there are many easy things you can do while at the cottage! The following 10 actions are beneficial to the environment, the local economy, and your bank account:

1. Consider canoeing or kayaking rather than operating motor water vehicles. This is not only great for the environment but also gives you the opportunity to see landscapes you can only appreciate while travelling at a slow pace. Think tightly winding rivers, shallow wetlands, nature identification along the shoreline, only accessible by canoe or kayak! The majority of rental cottages come equipped with personal water-crafts so remember to ask. You can also rent from local shops like Algonquin Outfitters.

2. When going on day trips consider carpooling with others. This is a great way to save on gas and reduce your carbon footprint.

3. Look for local artisans, makers and farmers when shopping for items. Supporting local businesses helps the local economy but also reduces your carbon footprint because you are not requiring items to be shipped far distances. Think #buycloseby.

4. Cook finger-foods on the fire. A pie iron like this will be your best friend - you may even be able to find one at the thrift store for half the price! Think grilled cheese, calzone, apple/fruit turnover. This will reduce the amount of dishes you’ll have to use and wash afterwards – reducing your water usage. It also requires no electricity or propane!

5. What if your cottage does not have drinkable water from the taps? Instead of purchasing water in plastic disposable bottles use a refillable water jug with a spout. This can be refilled at a water depot in your area, usually for around $5 for a 5/gal jug.

6. Avoid using disposable cutlery, plates and cups. Instead, assign one personalized cup (wine glass chimes work for this!), plate and set of cutlery to each person – that way each person is responsible for washing their own items and they don’t get mixed up. This reduces the amount of dishes that need to be washed because there won’t be the option to dirty more! If you are having guests over ask them to bring dishes with them to help reduce waste.

7. Check to see if there are bulk options near your rental cottage so you can shop package free! Shopping for bulk foods with your own jars is really easy to do. First, bring in a clean jar/container/cloth bag and have the cashier weigh the empty jar and write the weight on the lid. Then, go ahead and fill up your jar with delicious treats. When you are ready to pay the cashier will subtract the weight of the empty jar and you are good to go! The Haliburton Bulk Food Store and Rising Thymes (in Minden) both allow you to bring your own jars to help reduce waste.

8. Pack a collection of reusable items – water bottles, cutlery, straws, cloth napkins, grocery bags etc. Put them in your car before you head up north so they will always be with you!

9. Organize a beach clean in your area to pick up cigarette butts and other litter items. Then you can reward yourselves with a swim afterwards!

10. Check out the local waste diversion regulations in the specific Municipality of your rental cottage to ensure you are recycling properly. Every rental cottage is equipped with verbiage on what is accepted as recycling and waste (as it varies all across Ontario) and it is important to keep your recycling bin accurate so the non-recyclable items do not contaminate all other recyclables in the bin.

When you picture Ontario Cottage Country there is surely a pristine image in your mind of clear lakes, lush forests and thriving wildlife. We can all do our part in preserving these areas as much as possible!

Written by: Adeilah Dahlke Trained Professional Organizer, Jigsaw Organizing Solutions

Born and raised in the Haliburton Highlands 🌲

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