Did You Know ...?
... that stormwater runoff is the main reason why urban rivers are polluted and often look grey and dirty? Stormwater is the excess water that flows off the land when it rains heavily. In urban areas much of the land has been sealed with impervious surfaces such as roads, parking lots and buildings, so rainwater cannot soak into the ground as it would naturally. Instead it flows into storm sewers that lead directly into the nearest watercourse, carrying with it contaminants such as road salt, oil and grease from vehicles, and pesticides and fertilizers from gardens. On top of that, the rapid increase in water volume and flow rate from all the runoff causes river bank erosion and river bed scouring. Today cities try to engineer in stormwater retention systems such as the Keffer Marsh complex to mitigate these problems, but you can also help by disconnecting your home’s downspouts from the stormwater sewer system and installing a rain barrel.
... that large areas of the world that are now mostly scrub and desert were once thriving forests? Humans have been seriously affecting the environment ever since they began to live in fixed settlements supported by agriculture, around 9000 years ago. Many times in the past, civilizations have flourished then declined into impoverishment as local resources, in particular forests, were depleted and soil fertility destroyed by excessive cultivation and irrigation. Today we should know better. We can all help a little by preserving our remaining natural areas and enhancing them by replanting with native trees and shrubs.
... that you can have a great-looking garden without resorting to pesticides and chemical fertilizers - or having to spend all summer watering the lawn? There are many things you can do to bring environmental stewardship into your back yard, including planting drought-resistant native species, creating habitat for birds and butterflies, seeding your lawn with self-fertilizing, drought-resistant white clover, and composting your vegetable wastes.
Visit the TRCA’s Healthy Yards website for more practical information and additional links on environmentally sound lawn and garden care.
... that idling your car engine for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than switching off and restarting it? You can help improve air quality and avoid wasting fuel by turning off the engine when your vehicle is stopped and waiting. Think twice before getting in line at drive-through fast-food outlets. Excessive idling isn't good for the engine, anyway. Don't forget to install a block heater to warm up the engine before starting your vehicle in the winter, which will also reduce engine wear.
... that styrofoam has been linked to health and environmental problems? Styrofoam (polystyrene) is made from petroleum (a non-renewable resource) using ozone-depleting blowing agents, and is not biodegradable. However, during use in food and drink containers and after disposal, it does leach styrene monomer, a suspected carcinogen and neurotoxin. If only to reduce the garbage burden, it is preferable to minimize the use of throw-away food and drink containers. Today coffee-shop chains frequently offer ceramic mugs instead of plastic or coated cardboard cups. If your workplace cafeteria still uses disposable cups, why not start a reusable mug campaign?