Exploring Alternatives | Greener Landscapes | Hazardous Waste | Heating with Wood | Shrink Your Energy Bill
At last count there was an estimated 1.7 million shoreline properties in Canada. As part of that number, we take on the responsibility of caretakers for our portion of the lakes and waterways across the country.
One of the reasons we love ‘The Lake’ is the opportunity to interact with the waterfront environment, sharing our space with the plants and wildlife that are found within our little piece of heaven.
The LOWDSA vision states a lofty goal:
To preserve one of the most beautiful places on earth as a high quality environment for future generations to enjoy.
To reach that goal, we are counting on our members to do their part. By making the right decisions in and around our properties, our choices can help determine what the consequences will be for the world around us and whether our little piece of heaven will still be around to enchant future generations.
This section of the website is designed to help you become aware of some positive choices you can make to better share our Vision.
As of today in Canada, there are no legal requirements to substantiate that a product is biodegradable. In June of 2008, the Competition Bureau, in concert with the Canadian Standards Association produced a Guide, which states that:
- The use of vague claims implying general environmental improvement are insufficient and should be avoided.
- Environmental claims should be clear, specific, accurate and not misleading.
- Environmental claims should be verified and substantiated, prior to being made.
This should help businesses protect consumers by defining expectations, but is not a law. It is up to us to watch what we buy carefully.
The good news is there is an increasing number of environmentally friendly, AND effective products on the shelves today, allowing us to make choices less harmful to both ourselves and nature. It may not always be easy and the only way to ensure that you are choosing a product without hazardous substances is to carefully read the label.
Microorganisms, light, heat and natural chemicals break down biodegradable products, sometimes acting together to degrade or decompose a substance. Examples of naturally biodegradable materials are tree leaves, grass, refuse from food, cotton rags and human sewage. Although biodegradable products are supposed to break down in a reasonable time, it may take up to 28 days for this to happen, during which time there can be an environmental impact.
The bottom line: it’s better that the product is specifically designed to break down, than not at all, so buying a biodegradable product makes sense.
To learn more about alternative and “Do it Yourself” recipes go to the Less Toxic Guide. You’ll also find a thorough description of ingredients in commercial products, by category, to help you make informed decisions and environmentally friendly choices.
Just look in your cupboards
Many times the answers are right in front of us. For simple, effective and less harmful cleaning solutions try some of these suggestions:
- Baking Soda – use for scouring to clean appliances, vinyl, stainless steel sinks, and toilets, deodorize rugs and drains
- Vinegar – glass cleaner when mixed with water. Can be used undiluted to clean grout or other places where mildew grows
- Pure Soap – all purpose cleaner for dishes, clothing, and even boats
- Borax (Sodium Borate) – clean floors, tiles, walls and deodorize at the same time. This product will reduce mould growth
- Natural Oils – wood floors and furniture can be polished with mixtures of mineral oil, olive oil and lemon oil
Partners Against Pests
There are many plants that when joined in the right partnership can help keep those pesky pests away. The best combination plantings include a wide variety of herbs – hardworkers in the garden, great tasting in your favourite recipes.
- Anise, near coriander, helps deter aphids, snails and slugs; coriander, itself, helps keep aphids, Colorado potato beetle and spider mites at bay.
- Basil, beside tomatoes, improves the growth and flavour of the fruit and repels tomato hornworms and thrips.
- Borage attracts bees that pollinate tomatoes, squash and strawberries, but puts off cabbage and tomato worms.
- Catnip helps keep ants, aphids, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, squash bugs and even mice out of flowerbeds, but keeps your kitty happy.
- Chives, close by, improve the taste of carrots and tomatoes, and help deter aphids on sunflowers and tomatoes, reduce black spot on roses and control apple scab.
- Dill is a repellant for aphids, cabbage moths and spider mites.
- Garlic, among raspberry and rose canes, helps prevent disease and repels aphids, coddling moths, Japanese beetles and root maggots.
- Lavender attracts beneficial pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, but it helps keep mice, mosquitoes, moths, rabbits and ticks away.
- Mint (watch its invasive tendencies!) is a great companion for cabbage and tomato plants since it helps repel ants, cabbage moths, flea beetles and rodents.
- Oregano — an amigo to broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower — protects against cabbage butterfly and scares away cucumber beetles.
- Rue has the reputation of discouraging dogs and cats, as well as aphids, onion maggots, slugs, snails and Japanese beetles.
- Thyme, last but not least, is a longtime enemy of cabbage worms.
More and more of us are looking for ways to reduce use of pesticides and fertilizers on our properties – especially at the lake. We’re not only concerned about the environmental impacts, but also looking for a way to simplify.
Isn’t that why we enjoy our cottage? We’re sure it’s not to spend weekends cutting acres of grass and weeding formal gardens, but rather relaxing with friends and family.
Lawn and Garden
The new catch word for re-establishing drought-resistant native species or leaving an area naturally vegetated is xeriscape. The term originated in desert urban areas, but the basic principles apply to our region and properties as well.
The Advantages of Xeriscaping
- Lower water consumption, natural fertilizer use
- Less time and work needed for maintenance, making gardening simpler and less stressful
- Little or no lawn mowing
- Xeriscape plants tend to take full advantage of rainfall
- During hot dry seasons xeriscape (native) plants will tend to survive, while exotics not native to the area may be unable to adapt.
How Do I Xeriscape?
- Put plants with similar water needs together
- Use compost and manure to hold water and allow soil percolation
- Water efficiently
- Reduce lawn area
- Use native plants
- Use mulch to reduce evaporation of water
- Do not use railway ties as they are treated with creosote which can leach into soil
- Do not use bug zappers as they kill good bugs that are important to a pest-free landscape
As waterfront property owners we need to be aware that everything we put in or on our yards has the potential to make its way into the water around our homes. These additional nutrients can act as fertilizer on aquatic plant life the same way they do when applied to our lawns and gardens, jumpstarting unwanted growth of plants and algae.
To limit the use of chemicals around our homes, The Ontario Cosmetic Pesticide Ban was implemented on Earth Day, 2009. Pesticides used for purely cosmetic reasons are an unnecessary exposure to toxic chemicals. The Ontario Cosmetic Pesticide Ban harmonizes rules for pesticides throughout Ontario. There are several classifications of pesticides that have new restrictions.
Banned – Sale of Class 8 pesticides (domestic products used only for cosmetic purposes). Examples are: Pictures to come
Restricted Sale – Class 7 (domestic pesticide products used for both cosmetic and non-cosmetic uses)
When purchasing Class 7 pesticides, vendors in Ontario are required to provide you with the following information:
ATTENTION: You have purchased a controlled sale pesticide. Certain uses of this pesticide to control weeds or insects outdoors, such as on your lawn or garden, are prohibited. For more information visit www.ontario.ca/pesticideban or call 1-800-565-4923 or 416-325-4000.
Lower Risk Pesticide Ingredients – Class 11 (Biopesticides) are okay for any labelled use.
- Acetic acid
- Corn gluten meal
- Mineral oil
- Sclerotinia minor
Many products we all use around the house are considered hazardous, and then hazardous waste when we don’t need them anymore.
Some can explode or become flammable if not used properly. Some are poisonous to humans or animals, while others can cause cancer, birth defects or other serious medical problems.
If hazardous products are dumped in the sink, yard or storm drain or sent to a landfill, they can poison drinking water supplies, damage sewage treatment plants, contaminate soil and air, and poison aquatic life in our lakes and rivers.
Household hazardous cleaners also disrupt the natural biological process taking place in your septic system.
Examples of Hazardous Waste materials found in and around your home:
- Bleach, drain cleaners, oven cleaners, furniture polish, aerosol spray cans
- Oil-based paints, wood stains and preservatives, turpentine, paint strippers, solvents
- Gasoline, diesel fuel, motor oil, antifreeze, transmission and brake fluid, batteries
Look for these warning signs if you’re not sure of the hazardous nature of any product.
Household hazardous waste information is available on the City of Kenora Portal under City Government, Water and Recycling.
Heating with Wood
There’s nothing quite like sitting around a bonfire under a starry sky, or warming our toes in front of the fireplace at the cottage. It’s one of the special times, but it’s important to know the safe way to enjoy them as burning wood can release a wide range of pollutants into your home and the environment when poor burning techniques are used.
Wood smoke and the toxins it contains can cause coughs, headaches, eye and throat irritations and with Carbon Monoxide emmissions, serious illness and even death.
The newest high efficiency fireplaces and wood stoves are certified environmentally safe (when burning appropriate fuels/wood) and can provide you with significant cost savings by reducing your dependence on non-renewable heating fuels. In addition, by burning the smoke inside the stove these hi-tech appliances can reduce air-borne pollutants by up to 90%.
Shrink Your Energy Bill
We all know reducing energy use makes sense money wise. We may not be aware of the environmental impact of using electricity as a form of energy at the cottage. Hydroelectric dams flood land areas when they are built. Reservoirs submerge land, which was previously covered in vegetation or forest and once under water, plants decompose anaerobically releasing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Flooded land may have contained ecosystems, which are now altered throughout the area of the dam, and wildlife habitat is affected. Coal fired hydro electric plants emit CO2, creating greenhouse gases further impacting global warming. If we reduce the demand for power from the grid, we reduce the need to create more dams.
Even if a generator provides our electricity or we use propane for appliances, we still impact our environment through the use of non-renewable fossil fuels.
Kudos to those cottagers who are seeking alternative power sources such as solar energy or simply working to reduce their overall power consumption.