Green your summer

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Summer. Time to kick back and chill.

How to live an environmentally friendlier summer without stressing? Here are some tips.

Local vacations

Holiday locally and ditch the fossil-burning fuel recreational vehicles.

Visit local museums (such as Shawville’s Pontiac Museum, 210 Rue Lake, or Maniwaki’s Kitigan Zibi Cultural Centre, 54 Makwa Mikan). Bicycle Cycloparc PPJ PPJ (Pontiac Pacific Junction bicycle trail). Hike in Gatineau Park, Mont O’Brien. Camp at Leslie Lake. Canoe the Rivière Noire or explore the Dumoine Tote Road Trail…. Book a whitewater rafting trip and paddle Quebec’s Ottawa River rapids.

There’s tons to do here in the Pontiac, where Shinrin Yoku (forest bathing) is so doable.

Buy local food

Support local, organic growers by patronizing local farmers’ markets. From Wakefield to Bryson, Norway Bay to Shawville, find fresh veggies grown locally.

Why buy local? Food is fresher and hasn’t’ been shipped/transported over vast distances, at great emissions and “freshness” costs.

Local farmers’ markets can feature produce that’s grown without chemical inputs (always ask). Although many farmers haven’t gone the expensive Certified Organic route, ask each grower whether their produce is organic. Some who are not certified yet will invite you to visit their farm, so you can observe how and what they are growing.

Talking about food production with their consumers informs producers that we care about their production techniques, which is informative for them. Equally, we educate ourselves about how local food is grown.

Make your meals: ditch processed foods

Prepare your own meals from scratch. With allergies, cancers, diabetes and other debilitating conditions on the rise, our diets are more important than ever.

Going plant-based is one option that some are fully embracing. Others are deciding to eat less but far-better quality meats, whether they be local, grass-fed beef, locally raised trout, chicken or the less usual yak and bison meat.

Learn to cook

Unsure how to cook that yak roast or the fresh veggies you’ve purchased at the farmers’ market?

Ask the producer: often they have a collection of favourite recipes.

And does your family have a traditional recipe for something you particularly enjoy eating? Ask for the recipe. Invite them to show you how to cook it. Make it a family-friendly affair so that everyone learns, together. This way you have quality family and friends time concentrating on something everyone likes doing. And why not make a family/family of friends’ recipe book? Ask the kids to write and illustrate it with photos they’ve taken or artwork they draw.

Talking about family and friends’ recipes, try planning a pot-luck meal with a theme, then gather, swap recipes, and enjoy yourselves.

Banish disposables

Reduce waste by sidestepping Styrofoam and plastics whenever possible because neither are compostable: they will long outlive our lives on the planet. Choose not to buy a broccoli tightly bound by plastic wrap and inform shopkeepers why you won’t purchase it.

Some shops such as Bulk Barn permit us to bring in reusable containers instead of using single-use plastic bags – and offer a discount as a perk. And why not sew your own shopping bags?

Aim high: Zero waste

Did you know that plastic waste increases by 40% in summertime (euronews.com/2019/07/31/plastic-waste-goes-up-by-40-during-the-summer). Europeans eat a credit-card worth of plastic microparticles every week. That website explains: “Between 70,000 and 130,000 tonnes of microplastics and between 150,000 and 500,000 tonnes of macroplastics finish in the Mediterranean and other European seas each year — waste that ends up in fish eaten by humans. This implies that every week, Europeans eat the equivalent of a plastic bank card (five grams or 1,769 microparticles).”

Connect the dots: think about what you consume and produce, whether it be food you eat, emissions you release into the air and water with your recreational vehicles, and resolve to live more sustainably this summer.

Inspired, greener summer habits can morph into lifestyle choices.

It’s up to you to make green choices and teach your kids to cherish Nature.

Katharine Fletcher is a freelance writer and visual artist. Contact her at fletcher.katharine@gmail.com