Living the Green Dream: Sustainable Cabins

By Sally Smyth

31057542_sperfect wilderness retreat which everyone dreams of: pristine lakes, tall pines and the sweet smell of the woodstove burning in the evenings. The idyllic cabin in the woods – the ultimate escape – is where everyone enjoys the many wonders that nature has to offer. Yet these very wonders are under constant threat, whether it is through pollution, over-development, or a number of other factors which expose the fauna and flora which inhabit a particular region, and it’s important to adopt a conscientious lifestyle in order to enjoy the natural surroundings and keep them beautiful, clean, and healthy. Much of this can be achieved in and around the home itself.

Green-Proof Your Cabin
It’s easier than ever to make your cabin energy efficient with new technology and age-old resourcefulness. Homeowners can choose from a variety of upgrades to implement in their home, including:

Energy efficient light bulbs like LED

Water kits which reduce the amount of pressure in taps, showers, and water usage in toilet cisterns

Compost systems

Energy-saving appliances which offer green-oriented software (such as refrigerators and furnaces)

Insulation (loft, inner wall, flooring)

Energy efficient windows

Homeowners can save a considerable amount of energy and money by taking these measures, and can also consider using alternative energy sources to not only become more energy efficient, but become fairly self-sustainable as well. Installing solar PV (photovoltaic) panels is a great way to gather energy to use for electricity, and solar thermal systems are effective in providing hot water. Appropriately placed, geothermal heating can provide a lot of warmth during winter, and domestic wind power systems are also becoming more popular. As these systems are being manufactured on a larger scale, they are cheaper to buy and more accessible to homeowners than ever before. Modern design means that they can be installed without taking away from the aesthetic of the home as well, such as solar shingles which are designed to fit into the roofing design of the house.

Do It Yourself
Homeowners can go the extra mile and develop their own eco-friendly improvements for their own country escape, too. Greywater systems are an excellent innovation which can range from simply collecting rainwater in barrels to channeling sink and shower run-off water to use in flushing toilets and watering gardens. There are not only several kits available, but handy do-it-yourself guides on how to install an entire variety of handmade systems. These are great ways to live off-the-grid and control energy usage as well as save money, and provided they are regularly maintained, can last for years even in frequent usage. Sustainable gardening is also another venture which maximizes resource output without damaging the surrounding landscape. Ranging from complex hydroponics systems and aquariums to simple food gardens using construction from recycled materials and natural insect deterrents, there are many ways to nurture a garden in the wilderness and enjoy its plentiful bounty.

Lifestyle & Leisure
The most important part of adopting a conscientious lifestyle isn’t just in the improvements of the home itself, of course – but in the day to day activities and habits which take place in and around the cabin. Fortunately, the very nature of the cabin lends itself beautifully to sustainable living, making it not only an ideal home but one of the most popular styles of vacationing for families, couples and individuals who want to get away from it all. This makes the cabin a quintessential escape for the eco-conscious budget traveler and weekend outdoor adventurer, as well as the full-time cabin-goer who makes their nature retreat their permanent home. Sticking to the trails and leaving minimal impact on the environment is one way to enjoy the picturesque surroundings without causing a negative long-term effect, while sticking to activities like skiing, mountain biking and kayaking are just as enjoyable but less disruptive than using motorboats, snowmobiles and ATVs. Creating small homes, sanctuaries and bird feeders can be especially helpful during winter, and promise some truly delightful displays as well.

Of course, with every household comes its own set of mundane tasks, like ensuring that the septic is regularly maintained, that hazardous waste is properly disposed of, and that households reduce waste and recycle where possible. But most of all, it’s important to remember that a life in the woods can be eco-conscious without sacrificing the things which make us happy, and a green lifestyle in the long run is more rewarding and fulfilling than ever.

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