I’ve been struggling with this topic for a while now – years in fact. Going Green. Green Living. Eco-consciousness. It seems odd when the topic is so important to me, but in light of the global uprising of reducing our footprint on the planet, I think I need to just write what I know so far about the “Living Lightly” part of cottage life (and life in general). So here it is: the start of my series on my attempts at reducing waste, reducing toxicity and living lightly.
This is where I will share my many trials, tribulations, compromises and total wins in my quest to reduce my footprint on the planet as honestly and as practically as possible in the hopes that my experience will inspire you to do what you can too.
What does “living lightly” mean to me?
To me it’s similar to “going green” or “eco-consciousness” and it adds the element of lightness. The lightness I’m speaking of is that of spirit and communion as much as reducing our footprint and waste. Living lightly is about adding laughter, fun and exploration to a globally dire situation. And, it’s about striking the balance between simplicity and creature comforts.
One of the best parts of having a cottage is that is has made me more aware of the products I use and my habits that might have an effect on the planet. It brought the issue right to my front yard (starting with the septic tank). In the city it’s all deferred to some other place for processing. It makes me think about how much I want to encroach on nature and how much I want nature to encroach on me. I have to consider what I am and am not willing to do or sacrifice in the name of living in better ecological harmony with the land I’m on.
Let’s get on with it! My First Light Steps
What’s Going Down That Drain?
After living on the farm with my parents for a few years I knew that one of the first things I’d have to be conscious of at the cottage was the septic system. I knew that it’s more than just a hole in the ground for our poop. Your septic system is a sophisticated ecosystem that separates and filters a significant portion of our household bio-waste. It requires careful use and occasional attention. This is where I really started being more aware of the products we use to clean our cottage/home and bodies.
What’s Going on Our Bodies?
I’m talking body wash, shampoo, lotions & sunscreen as well as bug spray (because you can’t always hide in the gazebo). Many of the most common commercial brands of all of these items are laced with chemical compounds and fragrances that would rival any super-villain mind bent on destroying the human race. MUHAHAHAHA!
Of course the shampoo and body wash concerns came from wanting to take care of the septic system but that quickly snowballed into being more aware of everything we were using on our bodies. I’ve dabbled with making my own lotions, lip balms and deodorant. With much thanks to Wellness Mama I now have great home-made lip balms and deodorant but I cannot for the life of me get the lotions, body butters etc. to turn out well. So I leave that to the professionals … and buy the next best thing from as many local artisans as possible.
How We Deal with Waste
Not only do we have the environment to consider here, but we have BEARS and other creatures too. On our very first week of cottage ownership we had a bear roll our bin out onto the road and spread our garbage all around. Boy that was a mess for Brian to clean up! Quickly we had to think about how we store and dispose of our waste.
So far my attempts at composting food waste are not going so well – and to be honest, they’re freaking me out a little. It’s freaking me out because our kitchen scraps are not decomposing the way I think natural food ought to. For example, I’ve gone out to the compost pile in the heat of summer and found green and red pepper scraps fully intact a few weeks after I put them out. And wild animals aren’t scavenging in my compost pile! What the heck is my food made of that wild animals won’t even touch it?! And here I thought that would be my biggest problem with composting. UGH! I think I’ll put a Foodcycler on my wishlist.
Alright, for someone who’s had trouble writing a post, I think I’ve said enough for now. Stay tuned for more installments … and if you have any tips for my compost issue please leave me a comment!