Reducing Your Personal Impact
By Dan Vanclieaf
Have you ever asked what you can do to ensure a healthy and sustainable Muskoka? One of the most important actions you can take is to minimize your personal impact on the surrounding environment. Maintaining and preserving the natural features and unique ecosystems found throughout Muskoka relies on establishing a balance between human development and natural processes.
Here are a few tips that can help you reduce your personal impact.
- Reduce your consumption of fossil fuels and electricity. These sources of energy have a number of environmental impacts, locally, provincially and internationally. In many cases, fossil fuel and electricity production rely on methods that are unsustainable, requiring large inputs of energy and large land areas, often removing wildlife habitat.
- Don’t Idle. Car exhaust has a direct impact on human health, especially young children and seniors.
- Walk or bicycle to work or the store. It is great exercise and you can enjoy your neighbourhood while also reducing your use of fossil fuels.
- Treat electricity as a luxury. There are a number of simple modifications you can make to your daily life, which will both cut down on energy consumption and your electricity bill. Minimize the use of lighting by using natural light during the day and making sure to turn off lights when not in use. Reducing electricity use can also be accomplished by opting to open windows, allowing a natural breeze to cool homes, instead of air conditioners and fans, which can consume a large amount of electricity each day.
- Maintain your septic system. As a general rule, septic systems should be checked every 3-5 years. Regular checks of your septic system can catch problems as they occur and before the system fails completely resulting in a health hazard and impacts local water quality. Septic systems should also be pumped out as required.
- Compost kitchen and yard waste. The compost product is a great natural spread for gardens.
- Plant a tree. Trees provide shade that cool your house and give you a shaded area to sit and relax. They also produce the oxygen we breathe and sequester carbon, which will help to reduce greenhouse gases.
- Reduce the amount of material you purchase with heavy packaging, choose options that may be fresher and require less processing and energy.
These simple activities will help cut down your personal impact on the environment by reducing consumption and waste, and helping to create a better balance between your activities and the needs of the natural environment.
The preservation of Muskoka’s natural environment is important to our health, our economy, and our lifestyle. By taking some of the actions described above you can have a positive impact on the health of Muskoka.
For more information on reducing your personal impact, and to see how your area of Muskoka is doing, refer to the Muskoka Watershed Report Card at www.muskokawatershed.org/stewardshipworks.