A Manitoulin Eco-Hero: Summer Sustainability

by Anika Smith

As you may know these articles are written by students, and we want to encourage other students to act as Eco-Heroes, even when not in school. As summer approaches, we have to keep in mind that Manitoulin is a green space we must protect. Make green decisions while at your summer jobs or when you’re having summer fun. We hope to encourage you to be more eco-conscious with your summer endeavours.

Whether you are local or a visitor, if this is your vacation spot consider that this is also a home to many plants, animals and humans. When you go camping, take a before and after picture of your camping spot, attempt to make them look identical or even better at the end of your trip. Remember, the lake is not your washroom, Manitoulin is the largest freshwater island in the world, not the largest bath island. Using biodegradable soaps is one way to protect it.  As always, use reusable water bottles when you are travelling—it is cost effective and the tap water here is safe. When you see someone littering please call them out for it or pick up the trash they left behind. Consider using non-aerosol, mineral sunscreen to avoid the harmful effects of generic chemical-laden sun protection; you can protect both the environment and your health. 

If you think that saving the world isn’t fun, try some of these Eco-Hero approved activities this summer. Do a trash scavenger hunt around your location with friends by making a list (e.g. chip bag, mask, coffee cup, soup can) and race to find them all and pick up other trash on the way. You can also try to make a bio-meal with your companions and aim for compostable packaging for each ingredient. You can also shop at the local farmers market and purchase your souvenirs from the many local artisans of Manitoulin. Biking, hiking, canoeing, swimming, board games and zero-pollution-picnics are all great ways to have fun while helping our planet. You can also consider bringing bee-friendly, non-invasive flower seeds on some of your adventures to amp up the green. When hiking, do not go off the designated trail, you could be infringing on protected habitat and plants—view from a respectful distance. 

Even if you aren’t travelling this summer, there are still ways to help out. If you are working in a restaurant, help introduce a composting program, or have a talk with your boss about greener takeout containers. Having a compost bin in a public place encourages education about the importance of waste management and ways to get involved. There are many inexpensive eco-alternatives to the generic plastic and styrofoam take-out containers. Research sugar cane fibre containers; they are compostable and made out of something that would have otherwise been thrown out. 

There are many more ways to be an Eco-Hero throughout the warmer months, and we encourage you to think about them and share them with others. Ask hosts and business owners how they help the environment and do your part to preserve the beauty of this island. You can have all kinds of fun and memorable experiences this summer while leaving less of a carbon sandal-print.