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A guide to green cabin living

For many, Memorial Day means the unofficial start of summer and the official start of cabin season. When you’re grilling out, enjoying the lake and hosting friends and family, it can be easy to let your low-waste habits slip in favor of convenience. Instead, stay focused on your goals to protect the environment and take a few simple steps to continue the green habits you practice at home.

Get a set of cabin reusables

The cabin is a perfect place to bring the sets of dishes, silverware and cups that you no longer want to use at home. Remember to also have some reusable water bottles and coffee mugs on hand for when you’re on the lake or out and about. And since you’re likely to have some leftovers, stock a set of reusable food storage containers.

If you don’t have extra dishes to bring up, ask friends or family or check your local thrift store. Reuse retailers typically have plenty of dishware for sale at a great price.

Stock enough dishware in the kitchen for the number of people you typically host. If you often host larger gatherings, considering storing a box of extra dishware in the basement or shed.

Share the work

Cabins often don’t have the conveniences of home – such as dishwashers – which makes it tempting to use disposables so you can spend more time relaxing. But if you stay on top of it, the dishes only take a few extra minutes and means you have less trash to deal with when you’re heading home.

Finding ways to have everyone at the cabin help out is a great way to ease the burden on everyone. Assign people to do dishes for certain meals, or ask everyone to wash their dishes right after they’re done with them.

Pack it in, pack it out

Many cabins don’t have garbage or recycling service, so all of the waste you create you’ll have to bring home or to a drop site. Using reusables is the best way to cut down on the waste you have to deal with later.

Set up your trash and recycling bins following the same best practices you use at home: put trash cans and recycling bins together and label the bins so that everyone know what goes where.

If you’re bringing the recycling home, knowing what to recycle at the cabin is easy since you follow the same rules. If you’re bringing it to a drop site closer to the cabin, be sure to check what’s accepted and other guidelines for that site.

To make bringing recycling home easier, consider putting your beverage cans and containers back in the same boxes they came in, or have reusable bins or bags that travel between home and the cabin.

Collect materials for composting or organics recycling

From watermelon rinds to strawberry tops to vegetable scraps and meat trimmings, there can be a lot of food waste generated at the cabin.

Consider starting a backyard compost bin if you’re at the cabin often enough to tend to it. Remember that only fruit and vegetable scraps and yard waste like leaves and grass clippings can go in a backyard compost bin.

Or you can collect food scraps and other compostable products for organics recycling. If you have organics recycling at home, follow the same guidelines so it’s easy to put everything in your organics cart when you get home. If you don’t have organics recycling at home, you can still use a drop-off site.