Take pride in the Couchiching region
Aiesha Aggarwal/Special to the Packet & Times There’s no place like home, a bridge at Grant’s Woods.
Earth Day is a great time to celebrate the wonders of nature that make this planet special. Our landscape defines us as Canadians, and Earth Day is a fantastic time to look at our landscape and reflect on what we see. Unfortunately, too often in spring, what we see is a remarkable place with a sprinkling of garbage. Garbage is a problem we, as a community, should take some time to reflect on this Earth Day.
Every spring when I am shocked by the amount of litter the melt reveals, I try to be kind and give people the benefit of the doubt. I will say to myself, "Maybe it blew away and they tried to catch it," or "Maybe that paper flew out of someone’s blue box," o,r all too often, "It looks like a crow ripped apart their garbage bag." These things do happen, after all. But, the fact these accidents happen emphasizes we all have a part to play. We all share some responsibility in this problem that affects all species on the planet, including us.
In a world where we see images of turtles with figure-eight shells restricted by plastic, or sea birds dying with bellies full of garbage, we can feel overwhelmed and saddened. But, there are genuinely simple ways we can change these images to ones of a healthy planet. One solution is to join a community pick-up and dispose of things properly; another is to stop buying some of these items all together. Perhaps most importantly, make sure you are exposed to the paradise around us. If you are not in love with a place, you are probably not going to worry that much about protecting it.
We have outstanding waste-management systems in place in Simcoe County compared to many other parts of the world. Remember you are not helping anyone by putting things in the recycling bin that aren’t recyclable or putting things in the compost that are garbage. These things hinder our progress. Please reference the Simcoe County guide if you aren’t sure what to do with something, which happens to all of us from time to time.
If you want a far more effective solution, stop buying disposable items. We don’t need plastic bags, disposable drinking cups or any of the other things that end up floating through ditches to lakes, rivers, wetlands and the ocean. When you order a drink, ask for no straw; stop buying bottled water; bring a thermos for your coffee or tea; and remember it is not helpful if that coffee comes from a single-use pod. Substitutions are endless. If you are having trouble reducing your plastic consumption, there are tons of resources on the Internet and almost all of them will save you lots of money.
We deserve to be proud of our homes, town and region. This is a truly beautiful place, and I am proud enough to get out this weekend with our local Girl Guides to keep it clean and looking its best. If you aren’t inspired to join a cleanup, perhaps another solution is to learn about our region and what makes it special. A great way to learn about the beauty of home and show your love to Mother Nature is by participating in Passport to Nature.
Starting in April and running through February 2018, there are 17 guided events to take part in through the Passport to Nature program. Yoga in the Woods, Astronomy, Shoreline Exploration and a Family Fun Fest are just a few ways you can forget about everyday stressors and focus on nature. This program is perfect if you want to learn about the properties the Couchiching Conservancy helps to protect and about the birds and wildlife of our region.
All events are free to attend, thanks to local businesses that are dedicated to protecting nature and ensuring our community is healthy. You just have to register, as space is limited. We hope you can attend one of these events and be convinced you live in a beautiful world worth protecting. Visit couchichingconserv.ca to download a copy of the Passport to Nature booklet or pick up a copy from our office on Division Road in Severn Township.
Courtney Baker is the administrative assistant at the Couchiching Conservancy, a non-profit land trust dedicated to protecting nature for future generations.