Sustainable Orillia’s Tip Of The Week

Newest tips on top, check in every Saturday morning for new tips. If you have an idea to reduce waste, treat the environment better, or reduce carbon footprint that works, send it to with the subject line: I've Got A Tip.


Photo by Dan LeFebvre/Unsplash

Are you air conditioning your home on hot summer days, even when no one is home? During the winter, is your furnace keeping the temperature up all day and all night, again, when no one is home, or when you’re in bed beneath the covers?

It’s time to invest in a programmable thermostat. Your local hardware or big box store will have several models, some for less than $100. Rebates are sometimes available, too.

When you purchase one, be sure to use it.  Apparently, a lot of us have one, but don’t use it properly.  That doesn’t make any sense, does it?

Heating our homes or keeping them cool is one of Canada’s main sources of greenhouse gases. You can reduce your carbon footprint. And guess what else you’ll save?  You guessed it. Your money.

Scary Halloween Treats

(Photo by Jill Wellington/Pixabay)

We know that Halloween treats are not always good for kids’ dental health. They can also be scary from an environmental perspective: Many contain palm oil, which may be produced in a way that causes deforestation and horrifying outcomes for endangered rainforest animals.

The Toronto Zoo has launched a campaign asking people to choose treats that protect rainforests, listing brands that use certified sustainable palm oil:

  • Mars (Twix, 3 Musketeers, M&Ms, Snickers, Dove, Skittles)
  • Hershey’s (Reese’s, Turtles, Whoppers, Twizzlers, Jolly Ranchers)
  • Frito-Lay (Lay’s, Ruffles, SunChips, Tostitos, Cheetos)
  • Quaker
  • Ferrero
  • Kraft Heinz
  • Lindt & Sprungli

According to the World Wildlife Fund, many consumer products contain palm oil, from lipstick to soap to ice cream. Consumers can help by choosing products carefully.


(Photo by Kat Jayne / Pexels)

Who knew that eating meatloaf, hamburgers, and steaks was bad for future generations?  Twenty years ago no one, that’s who. But now we know raising millions of cattle to produce beef is one of the primary sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

So changing our diets becomes one way we can make our way of life more sustainable. Face it, it also shrinks our food bill, making our weekly or monthly income also more sustainable.

Work at this.  Substitute other meats for beef (see the Glory Bowl recipe online).  Better? Plan a couple of meatless meals each week. 


There’s nothing like a beautiful fall day as red and yellow leaves fall gently onto our lawns and gardens. Gardeners, by nature, are long-term planners and although those falling leaves tell us that its time to prepare our flower and vegetable beds for winter’s blast, our thoughts are always focused on the season ahead.   

Increasingly our thoughts are on how best to integrate sustainable practices into our gardening regimes. The mantra of Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose applies as much to gardening as it does to other parts of our lives.

Photo by Antranias – Pixabay

For example, as you prune or pull out your plants, chop them up and compost them for next year’s beds. If you don’t already have a composting system in your garden, start small in a corner of your garden with a simple pile of the chopped-up plants, cover with dirt and let nature take its course. You’ll be able to add this organic matter directly to your garden’s beds next season.

Do you have a stack of used plastic plant containers in your shed? This is a good time to take them back to your local nursery where they can be repurposed for next year’s plantings.

What about water? It’s never too late to find a way to capture rain water for the garden. Just remember to empty your container before it freezes. A good rain barrel not only reduces wasted water, it also adds character to the garden. 

Winter is when most gardeners plan (and dream). This winter gardeners are encouraged to learn more about how they can integrate sustainable practices into those gardening plans. There is lots of helpful information on-line, and we here at Sustainable Orillia will be posting ongoing tips throughout the seasons to help build better gardens naturally. Meanwhile, enjoy autumn’s glow as you wind down another season and prepare for the next.


Automatic clothes dryers account for a lot of electricity use in an average household – more than your clothes washer, fridge and TV combined.

Photo by Michael Püngel / Pixabay

Clothesline drying is one of the easiest ways to save energy—and your money. You save 100% of the cost simply by hanging your clothes up to dry. 

Clothesline drying is a simple task from a simpler time. Drying outside, if possible, is best, since clothes dry faster and the sun has a sanitizing effect. Indoor drying, especially in winter, adds welcome humidity to your home.

Get a clothes rack at your local hardware store for $25. Thanks for the tip Tony Telford.


You can help the environment and beautify your home by planting a bioswale. A bioswale is typically a vegetated channel that carries storm-water runoff from streets, parking lots and roofs. The effect is to filter and slow down runoff water while making it cleaner and safer for the environment, allowing it to sink into the ground rather than run into streams and lakes.

Typical Ditch

Some storm-water management practices, such as storm sewers and concrete channels, may be effective in handling runoff, but they’re ultimately eyesores. Bioswales offer a more pleasing alternative. They add aesthetic appeal to a residential or commercial site with texture, colour and habitat for birds and butterflies.

During seasonal shifts, city sewer and storm-water systems can struggle to keep up with increased water runoff. A 4 meter bioswale can absorb about a quarter of the total rainfall runoff that it receives.

Better Ditch

Once established, a bioswale needs little maintenance. They are vegetated with hardy native plants with established root systems which can withstand drought and a heavy downpour. While they are most effective in dealing with frequent, small rainfalls, they are also important in areas susceptible to storms.  Liven up your landscape with a bioswale You’ll not only protect our lakes and reduce the load on our city infrastructure, you’ll also beautify your home. Thanks for the tip Dorthea and Jane


Birds, bats, bees, butterflies and beetles pollinate plants and are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. Worldwide, over half the diet of fats and oils comes from crops pollinated by these little critters. They transfer pollen grains from one flower to another, and facilitate the reproduction in 90% of the world’s flowering plants.

Pollination leads to the production of fruits we eat, and the seeds that will create more plants. Pollination begins with flowers. Gardeners can support pollinators by providing pesticide-free food sources, safe shelter, and access to clean water. Having variety in your plants and their bloom times will help attract and support pollinators. Consider planting a portion of your lawn with native wildflowers to act as a pollinator garden (you’ll save time and lawnmower gas). Butterflies such as the monarch are an important model species for ecologists when determining the health of an eco-system. Many gardeners plant milkweed in their eco-friendly gardens to attract monarchs by providing a source of food for monarch caterpillars. Another way to ensure local bees set up shop in your yard is to install a bee house or bug hotel.  


Take Orillia Transit or plan to carpool at least a couple of days a week.  If possible ride your bicycle to work.  Walk, even.  Get some exercise—your body will thank you.

Driving to Toronto often? Take the GO bus or the GO train from Barrie instead. The new LINX bus will take you to Barrie for $4. It goes every 50 minutes between 6 am and 6 pm.

Learn how to connect with Toronto subways and buses.  Leave the driving to someone else. The average family spends 20% of their family income on transportation.  This means that reducing use of our cars can save us thousands of dollars each year.

Transportation is the source of 25% of our carbon emissions in Canada.  So we’re saving money, but we’re also saving the planet. Let’s do it.


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