In Toronto’s Inner Harbour, a turtle swims amidst an eddy full of untreated sewage and garbage. Further north on the Lake Simcoe beachside, yet another plastic water bottle has been tossed on the shore despite nearby bins and water fountains. Moving west to Alberta, smoky pink hues of wildfire plumes are reflected in the Bow River, hinting at water quality issues to come in the aftermath of scorched forests. In BC, a sunny-looking invasive plant is choking out native species in Seymour Lake.
What do these scenes have in common? These are the reports of people across Canada who used the hashtag #nofilterH2O this summer. The #nofilterH2O social media challenge was all about exposing the honest (if not always pretty) side of our beloved local waterways across the country.
The challenge was to post a photo, video or meme on social media, depicting everyday threats to a Canadian lake, river or stream. It was a timely challenge, given that a new report finds that although freshwater ecosystems cover less than 1% of the Earth’s surface, they are the most threatened. The report states that combined threats like pollution, overfishing, habitat modification, forestry practices, invasive species and climate change have led to catastrophic declines in freshwater biodiversity.
On the whole, #nofilterH2O posts covered the spectrum from plastic pollution to algae blooms, cigarette litter to exposed pipes, drought to invasive species, and illegal structures on waterways among the lot.
Five lucky winners who met the challenge received a fresh prize pack from our friends at LUSH. Congratulations again to @cleaningupnorfolk, @elise.b.m, @muskratwatershedcouncil, @nudiscover, and @terrasen_!
Kudos to everyone who participated in the challenge this summer to spread the word on the threats to our waters in Canada. Although this contest was not a “feel good” one, it helps to remind us that Canada has some serious work to do to make sure our waters are healthy and protected.
Check out the impressive result of your collective #nofilterH2O reporting in the collage below.
P.S. If this challenge has inspired you to take action to protect Canadian waterways, 1) we're tickled pink and 2) you're in luck. We are currently working to ensure stronger environmental laws are put (back) into place to safeguard waters for future generations. Join us now.