How to Contribute to Greener Vacation Rentals

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My good friend and author of children’s books on composting, Larraine Roulston is an environmental journalist and over the past few years has taught me a lot about living responsibly in cottage country. She and her husband Pete, are building a straw bale home in Elliot Lake which will be a prime example of sustainable living when complete and I’m sure we’ll be hearing about that from Larraine when it’s complete. What I have learned from her is the foundation for the Environmental Policy I’m currently writing for our rental agency, and we’ll be rolling this out to our cottage owners as a blueprint for greening up their vacation rentals for 2010.

I firmly believe that part of our responsibility as vacation rental owners is to educate and inform our renters about our unique environment and encourage them to enjoy a fabulous vacation experience while respecting the countryside. This will include telling them about septic systems and recommending they bring environmentally friendly products; giving them clear instructions on separating garbage and gently guiding them toward ‘responsible rental’.

Here’s how we can all get involved and create greener rentals worldwide:

Write a set of green guidelines for your rental guests

Don’t expect your guests to arrive all gung-ho for going green. They are on vacation and will often dispense with the environmental actions they may take at home. You will need to spell out what you want them to do with garbage; that fans, lights and electrical items should be turned off when not in use; and what can and cannot be sent down the sink and toilets. Give them a reason for doing this – explain a bit about what you are doing as part of your own environmental actions – as this may encourage them to get involved too.

Provide the means for guests to recycle garbage

This means a clear set of instructions for separation (in accordance with your local requirements), recycling boxes and clear bags.

Put up a clothes line and provide clothes pins

Suggest in your guide that it is more environmentally efficient to dry clothes outside in the summer rather than using an electric dryer, and that that they should do this where possible. Also ask that they only use the washer when they have a full load.

Provide the environmentally friendly cleaning products you want them to use

Lead the way and provide the products you want your guests to use

I’m planning on getting an energy audit done at Osprey cottage this year as part of my own commitment to responsible renting. I figure if I can make a difference as an owner, a bit of that might rub off on my rental guests. What’s your contribution this year?