The Blue Lakes Program
The Blue Lakes Program is a rewarding, community-based program aimed at keeping a large expanse of Southern Ontario's lakes healthy and intact. Under the program, participants select yearly goals they can work towards to promote the health and integrity of their lake, work towards those goals by taking concrete, actionable steps throughout the year, and report on the success of their efforts at year’s end. Those who reach their goals are awarded their Blue Flag, which they can fly to signify their successful participation in the program! Participants can select new goals each year, if they wish, and earn the right to keep flying their Blue Flag with the continued achievement of their goals.
In this way, the Blue Lakes Program is an eco-label program in that it provides a label, the Blue Flag, to award eco-excellence in the form of commitment to lake health and integrity!
What Is An Eco-label?
An eco-label is a voluntary method of environmental certification that recognizes the adoption of stewardship principles or practices. Typically, it is a “seal” that assists the public or individuals/organizations within a specific market to identify products or services as being better for the environment than others. They encourage improvements and set standards.
Examples of Ecolabels Globally
The Blue Flag Program
The Blue Flag program is an eco-label for international marinas and beaches established in 1987. The label is awarded annually to marinas and beaches that adopt key behaviours and criteria, with criteria tailored to be appropriate for each location. It has been so successful that within 20 years, 3312 beaches and marinas adopted the label in 36 countries. In fact, 28 flags are flying across Canada, including at Toronto Island and the Toronto Beaches. The Blue Lakes Program takes several cues from the Blue Flag Program!
Forest Stewardship Council Certification (FSC)
Found on thousands of product labels around the world, the FSC eco-label provides assurance that the forest-sourced materials or products in question come from verified and responsible sources that have met FSC’s strict environmental and social requirements. With 3 different eco-labels, consumers are reliably informed that the product they are purchasing (or its packaging) is made from either 100% well-managed forests, a mix made from responsible sources, or made of 100% recycled materials.
ISO 9000 & 14001 Certifications
ISO 9000 is a set of international standards on quality management and assurance developed to help companies effectively document the quality system elements needed to maintain an efficient quality system. ISO 14001 is a set of standards created to help companies around the world reduce their adverse impact on the environment. It’s a framework for improved and more environmentally-conscious quality management systems by organizations large and small.
The Blue Lakes Program Pilot
A pilot study to assess the potential impact of the Blue Lakes Program on lake health and stewardship behaviours was done in 2018-19. Over 56 lake associations participated and 300 individuals were queried. The report provided strong evidence that the Blue Lakes Program could be a successful tool for promoting the health and integrity of our lakes. You can read the full report by clicking the link below.