6 “Harmless” Things We Do That Are Slowly Destroying Our Planet
In the past few decades, the problem of contaminating our planet with trash has become even more serious. This is why more and more people are trying to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle and take part in different movements, like #Trashtag. However, we sometimes do things that we think are completely harmless, but that actually hurt our planet more than we can imagine. For example, when we release hundreds and even thousands of helium balloons on holidays.
We at Bright Side encourage you to reconsider some of the things you do and make the right eco-conscious decisions whenever you can. So, when do we make a negative impact on the environment?
When we release Chinese sky lanterns
Fortunately, the tradition of releasing Chinese sky lanterns is becoming less and less popular because they have a high risk of starting a fire. For example, the candles that don’t go out before they fall on the ground set trees, grass, and roofs on fire and have been responsible for burning large pieces of land. There have also been cases where power plants were broken and people’s houses were set on fire. Some people have even died. And in Great Britain, a lantern set a plastic recycling factory on fire. You can see the terrible consequences of the fire in this video.
But at the same time, few people know that sky lanterns are also very dangerous for animals, especially the cattle that end up eating the plastic they’re made of, along with the grass they normally eat. Other animals, including domestic dogs, hurt themselves and small animals and birds sometimes get entangled in the wires and die. And the lanterns don’t always burn up completely, they just land back on the ground and become trash. This photo was taken on the Muir of Dinnet Reserve in Scotland.
This is why it is now prohibited to release sky lanterns in many countries. For example, in Russia, in 2014 it was prohibited to release these lanterns in cities, towns, and near forests. In Great Britain, you will get a £2,500 fine, and in Brazil, you may be sentenced to 3 years in prison because it is considered a serious crime (big fires lead to huge economic loss).
When we bring stuffed animals to memorials
Unfortunately, sometimes tragedies happen that result in the death of completely innocent people, including children. At moments like these, people in many cities create memorials where they bring stuffed animals and flowers. This is how people express grief and support for their loved ones.
But over time, once this part of the grieving is over, life goes on. And the logical question arises: what do we do with the dead flowers and the toys that don’t look good anymore? Well, it is pretty straightforward with the flowers (we can just take them to a dump, where they will rot) but what do we do with the toys? Most of the time, they are just transported to dumps even though many people suggest washing them and giving them to needy children. This is what people in many countries do.
So, how should we express our grief? We don’t have the right to tell people what to do, but there is one little thing: when you buy a toy for a memorial, stop for a moment and think about what will happen to it later. By the way, some internet users think that it is better to give this tradition up and just collect money to help the families who are going through the loss.
When we use too much packaging
Packaging is not only used to attract customers with its colorful look, but also to keep products safe. And many manufacturers and retailers use too much of it, to say the least, and use it even in cases where they really don’t need it. Just look at this:
You could say that we, regular people, have nothing to do with this and that it’s the manufacturers that are polluting our planet. But remember this yourself when you wrap presents for your friends for the holidays! All those boxes and all that paper ends up in dumps (unfortunately, not all countries sort trash and recycle it). Here is a photo that was taken right after Christmas.
By the way, in 2015 in China alone, delivery services transported about 20 billion orders, having used 8.27 billion plastic bags and 9.92 billion packing boxes with duct tape. And almost all of these are in a dump right now.
So, is there anything we can do about this situation? First, don’t wrap presents and don’t use any extra boxes for this. And second, try to buy products that have as little packaging as possible.
When we buy useless things
Due to consumerism, people often buy completely useless things they don’t need. And most of the time, this happens when people don’t think a purchase through or because something has become popular. For example, fidget spinners were popular and now they are not. Just imagine where those millions of unsold toys will end up.
And, unfortunately, absurd things like disposable power banks are becoming more and more popular. It is believed that people use them once and then throw them away and the elements they contain are far more dangerous for nature than regular trash.
What can we do? Just don’t buy these absurd inventions. These disposable power banks cost $2 to $3, and a regular power bank cost just about $10 to $15. Once there is no demand, manufacturers will stop producing these devices.
When we buy next-gen smartphones
Big companies try to make as much money as possible, this is why they update their most advanced smartphone models twice a year. There are a lot of features on our phones that we don’t even need, for example, a fingerprint scanner or a cool front-facing camera. But for some reason, many people still buy the latest model smartphone, so designers and manufacturers keep making them.
Someone might say, “What does this have to do with the environment?” Here is the thing: because generations of smartphones change so fast, a lot of accessories are left unsold, including cases that can’t be used with the new models. This is why they end up in dumps.
The person who took this photo tells us that he sees this picture every year when tens of thousands of Samsung and iPhone cases are not needed anymore because new models are released. And this is just his town. Imagine how many similar situations happen all over the world.
What can we do? Stop taking part in the silly race for new gadgets, because designers don’t really have any new ideas and new phones are rarely that much different from old ones. They only give you new, useless features and a slightly new design.
When we release balloons
In many countries, there is a tradition of releasing balloons during different holidays and other public events, for example, on memorable days or tragic dates. It looks beautiful and moving but these traditions that seem completely harmless, actually do a lot of damage. And sometimes, according to experts, they lead to the terrible death of birds and other animals.
Few people think about what happens to balloons once they get out of sight. No, they don’t fly to outer space, but when they are a couple of miles above the ground, they either pop or deflate and fall back down to the ground. And they can land 20-50, or even 500, miles away from the original point of release.
So, pieces of latex and rubber, connected with thread, trash the most remote and beautiful places of our planet. And they also kill animals, birds, and sea life that think that this trash is food. And when this happens, their deaths are usually very slow and painful.
This is why, in many cities, it is either partially or completely prohibited to release balloons during public holidays and other events. And a non-profit organization called Balloons Blow informs the public about the dangers that popped balloons cause for animals, people, and the environment in general. On their website and Instagram page, Balloons Blow shows pictures with animals who have suffered because of balloons.
So, what should we do when we want to celebrate a memorable day? We could plant trees, build a beautiful playground for children, or set up a monument or different objects that will serve as reminders about an event. It will cost the same amount of money, but this time it’s being spent on something that’s both useful for people and harmless for animals.
So, if releasing helium balloons is so harmful to nature, what do you think we could replace this tradition with?
Preview photo credit gogiyan / depositphotos