From helping us live longer and absorbing carbon dioxide to playing a key role in First Nations culture, trees are vital to our communities and are keystones in Canada’s ecosystems. With urban sprawl and habitat fragmentation occurring across the globe, there’s no better time to think about how we can protect the forests we know and love (and explore!) every day. As the late social activist Howard Zinn famously said, “small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”
Here are three simple ways you can take action now to help ensure our beautiful and important forests are still around to be enjoyed by generations to come.
1. Eat maple syrup
Yum! Quebec is home to the beloved sugar shack and produces 71% of the world’s maple syrup. This makes the sugary treat an in-Canada good that travels only a short distance—and emits less carbon in transport—to get to you and your made-with-love Sunday pancakes.
According to the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, maple trees are well protected under Quebec law. Because of this, they aren’t cut down in the syrup production process. When one person uses one teaspoon of maple syrup or maple sugar each day for a year instead of another sweetener, two new maple trees go into production – and fall under Quebec’s regulatory protection.
The alternative, granulated sugar, is much more harmful to the environment. It’s grown on plantations—many of which exist in the Amazon rainforest—that are ever-expanding due to increased global demand for sugar. Between 2002 and 2012, 12.2% of deforestation in Brazil was indirectly linked to expanding sugarcane plantations. This makes maple syrup the sweeter and more local option by far!
2. Do your part to prevent forest fires
Already, 102 fires (and counting!) have ravaged 69 hectares of forest in Quebec. Be a responsible citizen and keep our forests beautiful by lighting up your campsites with non-flammable fixtures. Check out Reluctant Entertainer’s DIY camping lights for some lighting inspiration if you’re feeling creative.
Remember: if you live in Quebec, you can recycle mercury-containing light bulbs at hundreds of locations across the province—our collection site locator will help you find your closest location. If you live in BC, Manitoba or PEI you can also recycle your lights with us!
3. Reduce your paper use
That’s right, coffee enthusiasts! Hundreds of products that we use every day—from toilet paper and paper towels to printer paper and single-use cups—come from trees. Though recycling and composting paper goods is a step in the right direction, consider refusing paper items that have an eco-friendly replacement. Could you bring a reusable coffee mug when you pick up a latte before work? Keep a reusable napkin for use at restaurants? The opportunities are endless.
When possible, buying FSC certified products, sugar sheet paper (paper made from waste sugar cane), or products made from 100% recycled or PCW (post-consumer waste) sources can also have a huge positive impact on forests.
Join us in helping to conserve forests in Quebec and across Canada! Tell us how you protect trees by tweeting us or commenting on our Facebook.