I’ve never been one for resolutions; 6 weeks into a new year, and I’ve only been left discouraged and disheartened that I can’t commit to eating kale with every meal, or reading 30 books a year, or cutting out chocolate (seriously, can anyone do that?)
So with the start of 2019, I took a step back. Maybe the reason I wasn’t able to follow through with resolutions wasn’t because I lacked self-control, maybe it was because I wasn’t committing to something that felt important enough to me.
With this ever-changing world, few things feel more important than our environment. The time for change is now, but change can come in many shapes and sizes. With that in mind, I developed my 2019 goal: not using a single disposable coffee cup all year. It seems small, but did you know that the majority of single-use coffee cups can’t actually be recycled? And that across the globe, over 16 billion coffee cups are tossed into landfills, where it will take the thinly-plastic-lined cups 30-50 years to break down?
With these stats in mind, I was feeling inspired to stick to my goal. It seemed small enough, but as this small lifestyle change continued to evolve, so did my awareness for environmental sustainability in my community and I’ve been pretty happy to discover that it’s actually fairly easy being green in Haliburton County.
One organization who’s at the forefront of environmental sustainability is Abbey Gardens. The entire concept of Abbey Gardens has been environmentally conscientious since day one. They started with a vision to transform 300 acres of a depleted gravel pit into a community hub that connects the environment to all assets of recreation, food, and development. Abbey Gardens has a wealth of local food shopping opportunities, interpretive hiking trails, flowing gardens, beekeeping, equine therapy, and an expanding food hub where you can grab lunch and spend the day exploring the site. They also host a series of workshops and events, such as the Shoreline Workshop, where you can learn about naturalizing your shoreline with plants, all while positively contributing to the natural ecosystem! Their online calendar is the place to go for all upcoming workshops and events.
Another local establishment that caters to the environment is Haliburton Forest. The Forest is 100,000 acres of lakes, trees, and creatures, but it’s come a long way from being completely depleted of growth in the mid-20th century. With a shift in perspective, Haliburton Forest is now a thriving property that offers multiple businesses, tourism opportunities, educational facilities, and all kinds of adventures from dogsledding to tree-top canopy tours, and everything in between. The common denominator with these multifaceted experiences is quite simply the sustainably maintained forest; the staff shift, grow, and evolve with the forest, so that it becomes not only a resource, but an integral part of the growing family at Haliburton Forest.
If you’re looking to take a step back and delve into the education of Haliburton County’s ecological sustainability, then the place to start would be Nature’s Place; a science and educational centre in the heart of downtown Minden. The exterior walls of Nature’s Place are built from hemp straw bales that were locally sourced, while the earthen plaster on the walls is made from carefully mixed local soils, chopped straw, and even cow manure! Inside the building, there are interactive displays describing local animals, minerals, and ecology; with entire displays dedicated to recycling and environmental conscientiousness. It is fitting that the symbol for Nature’s Place is the mighty pine cone, which highlights the story of the great white pine nearly being logged to extinction in the 1800’s. The pine cone is a gentle reminder of the strength of nature and the crucial relationship we must have with it in order to keep growing.
For those looking to take those small but mighty steps to help the world, then why not join me in my 2019 goal and throw out the idea of disposable cups. I treated myself to a lovely reusable mug from Up River Trading Company, and I’ve learned that Up River, along with many other cafes in Haliburton County such as Molly’s Bistro and Castle Antiques offer incentives if you bring your own mug. Baked and Battered even uses compostable mugs, straws, take-out containers, cutlery, and if you bring in your own reusable container, they’ll fill it up for you to cut down waste wherever possible!
2019 is the year for change, and with so many sustainable alternatives and initiatives already underway in Haliburton County, let’s all do our part to keep our community green, one cup at a time.