From coast to coast to coast, it’s easy to do your part at home, work or school to protect Canada’s water. You don’t need to uproot your life to make a difference; small changes have a big impact. Here are some of the ways you can help:
Cut Off Solid Waste at its Source
- Reduce waste by composting and recycling, using recycled products, buying foods in bulk, purchasing products with minimal packaging and bringing your own reusable bags to the supermarket.
- Participate in a beach or shoreline cleanup in your community.
- Whenever you go boating or visit a shoreline or other wild area, stow your trash instead of leaving it behind.
- Encourage ports and marinas to provide convenient garbage-disposal facilities.
- Write to a cruise ship company and investigate what it does with its waste at sea.
- Campaign against the release of helium balloons into the environment, especially near coastal areas. They are a serious threat to marine animals, such as leatherback turtles, which mistake them for prey.
Turn off the Tap on Chemical Pollutants
- Monitor water quality. Test for pH (acid versus alkaline), nutrients (nitrogen or phosphorus), turbidity (lack of water clarity) and the presence of beneficial macro-invertebrates (aquatic insects, snails, worms and crayfish).
- Use only phosphate-free detergents and use garden fertilizers wisely and sparingly to reduce the quantity of phosphorus and nitrogen seeping into water bodies.
- Purge pesticides from your schoolyard and create wildlife habitats for amphibians, bugs and birds that control pests naturally.
- Dispose of hazardous wastes, such as old paint, medicine, pharmaceuticals, motor oil and turpentine, at proper disposal sites, rather than dumping them down the drain or into landfills. Organize a community day for collecting toxic materials.
- Remind your community that hazardous wastes should never be dumped into storm drains. If your community has no sewage treatment facility, raise public awareness about this absence.
Lower the Flow
- Retain rainwater on your property by installing a rain barrel or disconnecting your roof drain and directing the runoff to your garden.
- Use a low-flow showerhead to cut your waste water in half. Low-flow toilets give similar water-conservation results.
Tap the Potential
- Did you know that it takes more water to make a plastic water bottle than the bottle can actually hold? You can save this water by drinking from the tap. Drinking tap water also reduces your carbon footprint, since shipping bottled water across the country is a big drain on the environment. Keep a jug of water in the fridge so you won’t be tempted to run the tap for a cold drink.
- Drought-resistant native plants can save you time and money and provide homes for helpful pollinators.
Dew It Right
- Water your gardens in the evening or early morning when there is less evaporation.
- When it is time to replace appliances that use water, buy Energy Star models. Front-loading washing machines use a fraction of the water required by conventional machines.
- Replace strong household cleaners with environmentally friendly products, such as baking soda and vinegar.
- Do not pour toxic products, such as paints and solvents, down the drain. Take them and other toxic wastes like electronics and used batteries to your local toxic-waste disposal area.
- Research the chemicals in your shampoos and soaps and try to find products that won’t harm wildlife.
- Eliminate the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides in your gardens.
- Ask your municipal leaders to make your community pesticide-free. Many Canadian municipalities have now banned the use of pesticides.
Dilute Your Water Footprint
- In addition to household uses like cooking and bathing, water is used to produce our food, paper, clothes and other products. Visit waterfootprint.org to find out how much water it takes to produce these items, then challenge yourself or your friends and colleagues to reduce your water footprint.
Share Your Success
- Let others know what you are doing to help conserve and protect water by recording your actions.