Earth Day ideas
By Jenn Watt
Published April 18, 2017
In 1969, an oil spill off the coast of California so disturbed Democrat Senator Gaylord Nelson that he rallied fellow politicians (on both sides of the aisle – imagine that!) to come together for an environmental teach-in. On April 22, 1970, about 20 million Americans engaged in environmental awareness and improvement activities across the country for the first Earth Day, according to the Earth Day Network. Forty-seven years later, Earth Day is now marked around the world as a time to regroup and reaffirm commitment to the environment.
While there are plenty of ways to cut down on waste, reduce carbon emissions and protect wildlife, here are a few starters.
Buy native plants
When choosing what to plant around your home or cottage, selecting species from this area not only betters chances of the plant’s survival, but can help the local environment.
Shrubs with deep roots can reduce soil erosion, helping to filter out toxins from our water supply and keeping your shoreline or other property from sliding away in a downpour. Native plants need less watering and other measures to stay alive, meaning less resource use. They also provide habitat, shade and food for the local fauna that has evolved in this environment with these plants. (You can order from a wide selection of native plants from Friends of Ecological and Environmental Learning by April 22. See page 9. Local nurseries also feature native plants and have knowledgeable staff to help.)
Maintain your septic system
If you have your own septic system on your property, you’re directly responsible for what flows through it (or gets stuck in it) and into the environment. Those with lakefront properties have added responsibility since a malfunctioning system can leak right into the lake, polluting it for all of the people and animals who use it.
Septic systems last about 30 to 45 years if properly maintained. That means keeping food out, not flushing foreign objects into the tank and using eco-friendly products. Those with older systems need regular inspections to ensure the tank is still intact and that filters and baffles are still in place.
Advocate for policy improvements
Governments have much more power than individuals when it comes to ensuring the environment is protected. We have choices in the stores about what we buy and we make personal decisions about how much we drive, for example, but industry plays a much greater role than any of us do. Legislation at all levels of government has the power to restrict pollution or limit environmental degradation. It can protect endangered species or fisheries or water quality.
Want to further the discussion? This county has several organizations working on bettering the environment. Check out Environment Haliburton, Friends of Ecological and Environmental Learning, Abbey Gardens, the Coalition for Haliburton Property Owners’ Associations, Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, The Land Between, Haliburton Highlands Field Naturalists, Haliburton Highlands Outdoors Association and Ducks Unlimited among others.