Since 1971, Canadians have been celebrating the nation's natural heritage and strides made in environmental protection during Canadian Environment Week. The week-long observance also includes World Environment Day (June 5) and World Oceans Day (June 8). I, for one, find these awareness days creep up and are gone before I know it. I'm often too caught up in my in day-in-day-out routine to do anything special. But this year, I plan on carving out some time to make a difference.
The Government of Canada offers ideas on how to engage at every level — at home, work or school — and ways to get involved in your municipality. Here are some ideas for getting involved this Canadian Environment Week and all summer long:
Join a conservation volunteers event
The most direct, impactful way to lend a hand to nature is to get your hands dirty with field work. This year, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is offering over 100 events across the country for you to choose from. By volunteering you help NCC achieve its stewardship land management goals. You also gain valuable skills and knowledge in the company of like-minded people who share a love for nature.
Host a fundraiser
Love to bake or handy with crafts? A workplace or school fundraiser for a nature conservation organization is a great way to amplify your donation and get others interested in a cause. There are also sporting events that allow participants to raise funds for a specific charity, such as the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon.
Save on natural resources
Things like turning off the lights and conserving water sound simple, but they require a consistent, mindful effort to make an impact. I know when I used to live in a condominium where utilities were included in the maintenance fee, I was more prone to fall into the trap of being wasteful rather than resourceful. But it needn't be that way. Try recording your energy and water consumption month to month to see how your efforts pay off. Make use of rainfall by putting out a rain barrel to catch runoff from downspouts, and use the water to maintain your lawn.
Create a little piece of heaven at home
Whether you live in a home with a yard or a high rise with a balcony, all you need is a little space to plant native species that help bring back the wild. Learn about the plants native to your area and visit local nurseries for recommendations. Some native species that are found across Canada are pictured below.
Join a citizen scientist initiative
If you love identifying species, watching for weather and climate changes and making use of your observations in nature in general, you can become a citizen scientist! The Government of Canada's Citizen Science Portal lists a variety of projects that welcome your involvement. From frogs to worms to birds to trees, you'll be amazed to see the many ways you can contribute to science. Local conservation organizations also conduct their own citizen science events, such as Bioblitz Canada. Online communities, such as eBird and iNaturalist allow you to submit data through an app.
When it comes to "protecting the environment," the thought is often too daunting and hard to grasp. It seems like a burden too great for any one person to bear. But I am often reminded of a quote by John Lewis: "If not us, then who? If not now, then when?"
This Canadian Environment Week, let's all think of how we can pitch in, no matter how small an act, to help conserve the habitats and natural resources that we and the animals and plants rely on, together.
This post was written by Wendy Ho and was originally posted on the Nature Conservancy of Canada's blog,Land Lines.