On the occassion of a favoured foodie place releasing helium balloons in the middle of an island, surrounded by wet wet sea, as part of a marketing promo, it may be time for an updated collection of tips on how to live on the planet while trying not to kill it (that is, us). Also, it wouldn’t be September without a proper refresher.
Limit your balloon usage
and if you find it hard to celebrate without balloons, I get it, but please please, oh please, don’t release them. It takes a long time for the balloon to get back to the earth’s surface and it will probably land in some random tree branch, or if you live in a Mediterranean island, atop a poor turtle’s head or tangling it’s tiny legs with its ribbon. Whatever the package says, whether a balloon is advertised as biodegradable or not, they should be properly disposed off once you’re done enjoying them. Think of it as littering; you may have a good intention but the end result is the same.
I know you have a travel mug
it’s colourful or it’s monotone, it was super expensive or a free promo gift, plastic or insulated. Use it! It’s not just to carry around in the house; take it with you at cafes, libraries, cars and airplanes. Imagine if you saved 5 plastic cups in 5 vacation days, and everyone did the same. You can even use it to disguise your g&t. Just remember to wash it between coffee and booze.
They clean, but they chemical
and they end up in underground freshwater resources. Who can resist to a freshly washed, good smelling tshirt (or sweatshirt?!) (or blanket?!!!). It’s such a feelgood feeling and it takes a lot of willpower and ecological guilt to keep from washing them as soon as they lose their scent (first two hours). But -bear with me on this- detergents, cloth softeners, all kinds of chemical concoctions used in our homes, they end up in the regional water supply systems. Now, depending on the trust you have on water management infrastructure, they may be filtered out before the treated water reaches rivers and oceans, they may also not. Whatever the case, once used, they have to get somewhere right? It’s a burden and as much as I like freshly washed everything, it’s another thing we have to be aware of, to limit using harmful substances.
and limit your energy spending. If you own the place you live in, it’s much easier to intervene and renovate to improve its energy efficiency by installing sun shades and automations that regulate solar intake. What happens if you’re renting and have zero leftover income to spare on building improvements? I’ll tell you what-lots of time spent opening and closing windows. Here’s the trick: in summer you need to aerate the place as early as possible in the morning (or leave overnight), while temperatures are under 30 degrees; then close all windows, shutters and blinds, until the sun goes down. When temperatures are safe again, you re-open and cool down until next morning; lather-rinse-repeat. In winter, you do the exact reverse: maximise solar intake and minimise cold seeping in at night. It’s not a guaranteed method but better than nothing.
support local businesses while making sure what you’re buying is what you really want. Online shopping has been overly convenient over covid, also accommodating introverts and antisocials, but how many times have you received groceries you didn’t really like? Products near expiration date, wrinkled cucumbers, sad carrots and bananas from the other end of the world can all be avoided if you just drop by your local shop or market. Farmer to fork, minimising waste and promoting local economies instead of imports is a win-win. Sure, it doesn’t really matter to you if you pick a tv in the shop and order it online for a steal, but it matters to the sales guy trying to get a bonus. And don’t mention handcrafted products; the story behind anything makes it all the more precious.
politely, consciously and in articulated sentences. If you see something wrong and feel like saying something, do so, without ridiculing whoever did something wrong. It can be infuriating at times, but if it comes from a hurtful intention, it will happen again when you’re not there. The point is to impart knowledge and make others care for the environment the same way you do. Being mean hasn’t helped anyone, ever.