My family has this river cabin that my father and his siblings have been going to since they were young. Eventually it was passed on to them and now all of the families share it together. Not only do we all gather on holiday weekends but each family has their own week per month to enjoy during the summer months. This place is like a second home to me. It is the only place that I have spent my whole life in as my parents moved from my childhood home when I was in college. For most of my late teen and adult years, I never stayed more than a couple of days at a time, primarily because I had to get back to work. Since currently at home with my daughter, I’m really able to take my work with me wherever I go! These past two summers I’ve really been taking advantage of this time we have down there because it is one of the most beautiful and relaxing places to be.
I mean, how can you not love a place that has skies like these?
Even though I was away from home, I was still determined to keep waste down as much as possible. Each visit was a learning experience as to how I might do better next time. Not only was I determined to keep my garbage in check but also that of those around me as subtly as possible (this may have resulted in the occasional trashcan dive).
Now onto the 10 ways I reduced waste while at the river:
1. Bought a set of cotton tea towels to cut up and use as replacements to paper towels for clean up. I bought them specifically for the river during our first cleanup weekend because I hadn’t thought to bring all mine. They came back and forth with me to the river for remainder of the summer!
2. Brought other reusables like cloth napkins, storage containers, travel bottle/cups for me and the teenie. We even drank our water from the tap (gasp)!
3. Shopped for groceries beforehand to have both package free dried goods and fresh produce. The only grocery stores down there are basically a Food Lion and Wal-Mart so there is no chance for bulk shopping down there.
4. There is a farmer’s market which we were able to check out while down in August to get a few local eats.
5. Made some of my own snacks to bring along!
6. Refused paper plates. Often my family will put paper plates on top of reusable plates to make clean up easier. Instead, I offered to wash everyone’s dishes in exchange for skipping the waste.
7. Collected recyclables. We used to have a can that was used for everyone’s recyclables there but it up and disappeared since last summer. This led to a painful amount of recyclables being thrown away during opening weekend. I had planned to bring a can down in June but forgot so I tried collecting as many as I could in paper bags. Finally in August I brought my currently-not-being-used trashcan down which helped a lot!
8. Tried composting. It’s funny once something becomes your habit it is really painful to do the opposite. That’s how it is with me and throwing away food scraps. Seeing perfectly compostable food & other materials (paper plates, paper towels and napkins used by others) go into the trash made me cringe. So I tried bringing my composting bin to collect scraps and all that jazz. Unfortunately being an open air house and situated by the door, it just attracted fruit flies which led to it being kept outside away from the house.
Being that far away, getting scraps and other compostable materials into the bin was not as convenient, therefore not very successful. Only about half the bin was filled when I brought it home and then after sitting around for 24 hours with a closed lid on (recipe for disaster) it was covered with what looked like rice, and only what I can assume to have been fruit fly larvae. Bleeeeeehh. Still gives me the heebie jeebies…
Afraid of a fruit fly infestation at my house, I bagged up and tossed the contents then deep cleaned the bin, so unfortunately it was a fail but after some very helpful comments on Instagram, I feel armed with better strategies to try again next year.
9. Brought our cloth diapers along.
10. Of course, had to make a point of picking trash out of the barrier rocks and during walks.
I feel so lucky to have been able to spend so much time in paradise with my family this summer. Being away from home can make reducing waste more of a challenge but its all about trying your best to make the world a cleaner place!
Hope you have a great last couple days of summer and start to the fall season! I’ll be kicking things off with a long girl’s weekend in Boston. Follow along on Instagram to see travel pics!! 🙂