Are lakes nature’s bathtub?

There are so many things we can do at the lake, such as swimming, kayaking, birdwatching, and fishing. One of the things we shouldn’t do at the lake is use it as a bathtub.

Personal care products (including shampoo, shower gel, and bug repellant) and pharmaceuticals are collectively referred to as PPCPs—a recently identified class of environmental pollutants. It’s important to prevent these products from directly entering the lake when possible.

The best thing to do is simply let the water do the work of cleaning your skin and hair rather than adding soaps and shampoos. There are biodegradable shampoos that are marketed as safe for the environment. However, biodegradable simply means they can be broken down by natural processes, which could take weeks to years to work—leaving plenty of time for the product to do some damage.

The best practice is to never wash with soaps or shampoos directly in the lake. If you’re going to wash outside, please use biodegradable soaps, wash 30 m from the shoreline, and dispose of the soapy water in a six-inch-deep hole where the soil can filter the water, and the bacteria in the soil can properly break down the soap.

It may seem absurd that just one person washing in the lake can pose a risk. However, our lakes are already impacted by septic systems, runoff from lakefront properties, and pollution from boats—every little bit counts. Let’s work together to keep our lakes clean and safe for us, visitors, and the wildlife that depend on them for a good time.

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A movement that began in Britain has made its way across the Atlantic in the past few years. It’s called No Mow May, and if you haven’t heard of it yet (the CBC did a story about it in May 2020), the gist is this: bees, coming out of hibernation in the spring, are in need of food to get themselves revved up, and at that time of year the pickings are slim. UNLESS… the wildflowers of May (we won’t call them weeds) are allowed to flourish: dandelions, violets, and wild strawberries among others.

Homeowners with lawns are asked to refrain from mowing for the month of May, giving bees (and other critters) food to tide them over until the full bounties of spring blossoms arrive. To participate, all you have to do is … nothing. Just sit back and enjoy the bright yellows and purples, and give that mower an extra month’s sleep-in. (In fact, with no one mowing, we’ll all be able to sleep-in.)

And as a bonus for your laziness, you’ll have a lawn full of tasty nutrition: dandelions are edible from the bottom of the root to the tip of the flowers. (Just be sure they haven’t been sprayed with chemicals.) Here are 16 ways that you can enjoy them at the dinner table.