What we all can do

Summer is winding to a close. School is just around the corner and youngsters through to teenagers everywhere will be counting the days of holidays still left to enjoy.

Summer is a season when we think about what is convenient to us. Paramount in many people’s minds during summertime is, “What can I do to make life more simple for me and my family?”

All too often, we let our standards slip a wee bit. I’m talking about what we all do, me included, to simplify our lives during summer.

Here’s a very short environmental reminder list, for you to think about during these last few weeks of lazy summer days.

And remember: children learn best if we set them a good example. This isn’t rocket science, it’s fact. Going to Québec City to demonstrate at the Summit of the Americas is important way to stand up and express your democratic right.

But so is a regular routine of environmentally healthy attitudes, practiced daily… even in summer.

Green purchases

What is in your shopping basket?

Are products purchased with at least a nod and a wink to whether they are environmentally sound? Do products and packaging reflect the environmental standards that you’d like “other people” to follow? Let’s take a look at some popular products.

We ladies like to shave our legs and underarms. What do we use? Let’s look in our shopping baskets. Are there chemicals in there, to remove hair? Are there those handy-dandy throwaway plastic razors in the basket?

If there are… think about them. Where do the chemicals go? Down the drain, you say? Think about our water. Think about how we all felt about the deaths in Walkerton… and of the drought here in the Pontiac this summer. Think about what you, your neighbours are pouring down the sink, down the toilet, down the shower drain. And think about how precious our water table is… and how we must all do our bit against polluting it.

Think about the volume of waste if all of us use disposable razors. If everyone on your lake uses them, if everyone in your town uses them… think of the pile of waste created in a week, in a month, in a year. Where do such throw-away items end up? Why do we need more land for landfills?

Juice boxes are a popular item year-round. What convenience! Mothers through to office workers love these single-servings of delicious fruit drinks.

Are they in your grocery basket? Think about the volume of waste they create - not to mention how non-biodegradable they are. Is it really that much more difficult to get a large container, purchase some smaller, spill-free plastic containers (or a thermos), and pour liquid from one to another?

Just think of the waste you’ll save. And think of the example you are setting to your co-workers and children.


Throughout the Pontiac there are recycling bins that can be used whether or not you’re a full-time resident. So if you’re “just” a summer cottager or a permanent resident, remember to use these. Make them a part of your household routine just as surely as taking out the garbage.

Can’t locate them? Call your municipality and find out where they are. If your municipality doesn’t have a program, encourage them to do so… and call the Municipality of Pontiac and use our bins.

FQDI and household goods

The Fondation Québécoise de la déficience intellectuelle will drive to your home (or cottage), pick up bags or boxes of used items, and take them away. No fuss. No muss.

They take all your used articles of clothing (shoes through to dresses and suits), furniture, television sets… you name it, they’ll consider taking it. Give them a call to confirm that they’ll want your things and that they know how to get to your rural residence.

The FQDI recycles “more than 16 million pounds of textiles annually.” Articles are sorted and given to Le Village des Valeurs. Your no-longer wanted items create jobs as well as protecting our landfills from piles of “waste” which frankly has a long life ahead of it. As well, proceeds the foundation gets from our waste items help to renovate Camp Gatineau’s buildings so that intellectually challenged families can enjoy the outdoors.

The FQDI is literally a phone call away at 819-771-4902. They were just here at our place and I’ll tell you, they are a pleasure to deal with. Call them… and “get rid of” your recyclable unwanted items.


This column merely scratches the surface of issues that need our continual re-evaluation. I like a simple life. So do you. Being a wee bit more conscious of our shopping basket won’t hurt a bit… I promise.

Can we afford to take some holiday time to tidy up some of our ways of doing things that might have slipped just a little?

It takes each and every one of us to make the planet more healthy. The crisis in water is upon us Canadians. It’s not just Walkerton that has a problem. Everyone should be testing their water, ensuring it’s okay to drink - and to swim in, frankly. It’s not fair to blame the farmer down the road, it’s not fair to blame the government, it is extremely fair and democratic for us to take a look at what we (you and me) are doing, ourselves.

Environmental degradation is occurring all around us. It’s happening, basically, because we human beings are overpopulating the planet. If we want children and grandchildren without any restriction on their numbers (as in some countries), we must be responsible parents. And not just to our children.

We must be responsible to the Earth. Motherhood nonsense? Hardly.

We need to create a sustainable future and one of the best ways to do this is to purchase products wisely, use them thoroughly, reuse them creatively - and then recycle them carefully.


Katharine Fletcher is a freelance writer based near Quyon, Québec. Contact her at fletcher.katharine@gmail.com