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Respecting the Water

Sometimes nature isn’t in your own backyard, but rather someone else’s! Here are some of Katie's important ideas to keep in mind next time you venture into a new community!

For all of my life, summer and water have had existed together. The beach, camping by a creek, days by the dock; no matter what water is rarely far on the perfect summer day. Unfortunately for most humans, the water is rarely in our own backyard. The anticipation to get to the water can be overwhelming at points, but it is important to understand how to be a respectful visitor while enjoying these locations. First and foremost, in light of COVID-19, do your research. If you are visiting space that is not in your own community look into the public health measures being practiced there. Follow social distancing protocols, and if the community is advising against visitors at the moment, do not go. A communities safety is far more important than then a beach day.

As well, with some COVID-19 protocols still in place, some businesses may still be closed. If you are planning on picking up food from a local spot or stopping for ice cream, plan ahead. Check to see if places are in fact open, or if choosing to pack a waste free lunch would be a better option at the moment.

If it is okay for you to visit, be respectful. I always follow the ‘pack in pack out’ protocol that I learned in elementary school. Anything you bring must also leave with you, and if you want to go the extra mile, I try to leave the space even better than I found it. To me this means devoting 10 extra minutes at the end of the day to collect any litter that may have been left behind by someone else.

Being respectful does not start and end with waste. You should know the history and significance of the land you are walking on. Many trails and nature spots are also ecologically significant. While it may not look it – some spots are extremely sensitive, and therefore humans should avoid interaction and be careful when doing so. For example, sand dunes, which can be found at many Nova Scotia beaches play an important role in protecting shorelines from coastal erosion. For this reason, running through the dunes is generally frowned upon as it can disturb the plant system holding the sand in place.

Finally, this is not an exhaustive list, rather somewhere to start. These are some of the things that you should keep in mind when visiting new places, but they are not the only things. Take a minute to reflect on what being a respectful visitor means to you, and keep each of those things in mind the next time you leave the house!


My name is Katie Sutter (she/her)! I am a recent graduate of Dalhousie University where I earned a B.A in environmental sustainability and political science. Sustainability is a large part of my life, and I like to take every opportunity to challenge myself to live a greener and more impactful life! I spend a lot of my free time volunteering with local initiatives, including being part of the core member team over at FOUND and Forgotten Food. When I am not volunteering, you can usually find me out on a hike or reading/doodling by the water!  

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