Posted by Katie Altoft on May 31st, 2012
Cottaging is one of the great pleasures in life, but as more and more of us head north to enjoy the great outdoors, the stress on the lakes can be more than they can bear. Here are a just a few tips on how you can minimize the impact of your cottage on the lake that you love.
1) Always choose biodegradable – Although there are no universal standards around what biodegradable means, in a nutshell it says that a product will break down into substances that are naturally occurring in a short period of time once it is used. For things like soaps, shampoos and cleaners that you’ll be using up at the cottage, this is critically important. Conventional products can literally take years to break down, which is very harmful to everything in the lake.
2) Think of your septic system – Bacteria are necessary for the effective functioning of your septic – they do the majority of the work breaking down your waste. You can imagine the problems created when you put things like antibacterial soap or toxic chemicals into your septic system which kill off all of the good bacteria. Choosing green products make a big difference when your wastewater goes directly into the environment.
3) USE your septic system – The lake is great for swimming, but it’s not a bathtub. The load of soap and shampoo that gets added directly to the lake has many implications for the plant and animal life. It makes a big difference if your wastewater runs through your septic system first before heading into the lake – 95% of the breakdown has already occurred.
You may be just one person, but there sure are a lot of you. Every year there are more and more people on the lake, and many of our lakes are being pushed to the brink. Fishing is on the decline and swimming is being threatened. We need to be much more careful with the products that we put in the lake. If you must bathe in it, be sure that you use products that have natural ingredients, are biodegradable and phosphate-free to minimize the damage.
4) Remind your renters – many long-time cottagers know these tricks, but renters can also have a big impact on the lake when they come up for their vacation. Why not leave them a note, or put it in your contracts that they need to respect the environment while they visit so that it will still be great next year.
Have a great Summer!