Cottage life in Muskoka Lake of Bays is generally a much greener environment then the congested cities. But how green is your Muskoka watefront cottage?
“It’s 3:30 in the afternoon as Iris walks out of school with her friends to the bike rack. She remembers that her dad asked her to stop by the grocery store on the way home. Pick up veggies – local ones, he said. She finds carrots, potatoes and butternut squash – all from Ontario. At the checkout, she gets shopper points for bringing her own bag. She stuffs the items in her backpack and makes it home just before the rain starts. Dad’s in the kitchen starting dinner…
It’s now 4:30 and Iris’ mom Jackie is getting off work. It’s raining and her first inclination is to hail a cab. Her regular route home is by streetcar and as she waits for a cab (they’re all taken!), she nearly misses the next streetcar. Lucky for her, it stopped at the red light and she can get on. Bypassing streams of idling cars caught in traffic, she coasts down Spadina to her home.
When Jackie arrives home, her husband David announces that he installed the new dual flush toilet today and someone better go give it a whirl. Iris just rolls her eyes. She goes downstairs to the laundry room and collects her basketball uniform from the drying rack. She tries to sneak upstairs so she can message her friends before dinner, but dad says there is just enough time to take out the compost. Iris runs through the light drizzle and dumps the contents in the green bin. On her way back, she jumps and grabs an apple from their tree – dekes around the rain barrel, and drops the apple in her lunch bag for tomorrow.”
This story shows ten environmentally friendly actions anyone can make in their day to day life. This family alone will save approximately 124,959 litres of water, 349 kg of waste, and 1,551 GHG emissions over the next year for a savings of $467.
The GTA’s Challenges and Potential. We’ve all experienced congested streets and commuter highways, severe smog advisories, and the threat of blackouts during peak energy use. There is a severe shortage of green space in the downtown core, and Toronto Pearson is Canada’s busiest airport. The harsh realities of a big city seem contradictory to sustainable living but they’re not.
The GTA allows for greater access to environmental services and so much more. It boasts an elaborate public transit system, an ever-improving recycling and composting program (510,000 single family households compost with the green bin program), access to renewable energy sources, green building companies, dozens of urban farmer’s markets, and many environmental events and learning opportunities for the public.
Sometimes a busy life, though, with its competing demands for our time, energy, and money, can keep us from making changes we know we should make. Don’t let the naysayers get you down. It’s easy to maintain your current lifestyle while making responsible choices that have a low impact on the environment.
Here’s how you start. Target five areas for simple household conservation:use water wisely, find energy efficiencies, reduce waste, take transportation alternatives, and make environmentally responsible choices when you buy things. If environmental responsibility is a part of your list of 2015 New Year’s resolutions, here are some quick, simple actions you can do right now.
These simple tips can apply to watefront cottage life in Muskoka Lake of Bays also…
Effortless: Get a low-flow shower head. A five-minute shower with a low-flow showerhead uses only 35 litres of water. And the best part is… you won’t even feel the difference!
Simple: Install faucet aerators. Installing aerators on your taps can help you reduce water flow by up to 50%. Faucet aerators are inexpensive and easy to install.
Smart: Upgrade your toilet to a low-flow or dual flush toilet.
Up to 30% of the water consumed in your home is flushed down the toilet. A low-flow toilet typically uses 6 litres for each flush.
Effortless: Bring a bag. Canadians take home over 55 million plastic shopping bags every week, the majority of which end up in landfills. Reduce the number of disposable plastic bags brought into your home by bringing your own bags when you go shopping.
Simple: Use re-usables. Bring your own container when you buy your food on the go and join the ranks of people who dine out prepared!
Smart: Composting. Every household’s garbage is made up of organic materials such as fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and egg shells. Cut your household waste in half by composting.
Effortless: Turn down the temp in your fridge. A refrigerator consumes the most energy of all domestic appliances (approximately 25%). It also represents 11% of total energy consumption. Adjust the refrigerator thermostat between 2°C and 3°C and the freezer between -18°C and -15°C.
Simple: Hang your clothes to dry. The clothes dryer is the second-largest energy consuming appliance in the home. Keep our air cleaner, while saving on energy costs, by hanging your clothes to dry. Set up a clothesline outside and a drying rack indoors.
Smart: Replace old appliances with energy saving models. Appliances account for about 13% of home energy use. Some new energy-efficient appliances use 50% less energy than others to do the same job.
Effortless: Idling gets you nowhere. Turn off the car if you are stopped for more than ten seconds. If every Canadian driver avoided idling by 5 minutes a day, we would save 680 million litres of fuel, over 1.6 million tonnes of GHG emissions, and $646 million in fuel costs annually.
Simple: Take eco-friendly transportation. Health Canada recommends 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous activity per day. By walking or biking to work or school, you can easily achieve this health benefit. If distance or mobility prevents you from walking or biking, take public transportation with a clean conscience.
Smart: Trains over planes. When taking trips close to home (less than 500 km), take the bus or train instead of the plane. You can reduce your GHG emissions by 90% on a single trip.
Sustainable Consumer Practices
Effortless: Eat less meat. Canadians eat more than twice as much meat than the global average. Look for opportunities to include vegetarian alternatives. Choose one day each week to eat only vegetarian meals. If you are already doing that, add more days where your household goes meat-free.
Simple: Go local, reduce your food miles. The transportation of food creates major greenhouse gas emissions. In North America, the average food item travels 2,000 km. Each person in your household can cut 40 kg per year off their emissions by buying local whenever possible and eating what’s locally available in season.
Extra mile: Buy green power. Green power is environmentally responsible renewable energy and reduces the need to burn harmful fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. If green power is not available in your area, you can purchase renewable energy certificates to offset your GHG emissions
Originally published in COLLECTIONS by Harvey Kalles Real Estate