I think most people looking at the title for this blog
entry will automatically fill in the second half of the saying: … must come
down. Yet why does this tend to be forgotten
when it comes to litter? Specifically
balloon releases and sky lanterns: these mass littering events happen daily
around the world without a second thought, despite the incredible damage they
can do to wildlife.
Manufacturers like to say that their balloons are
biodegradable, but this is not a synonym for invisible. Nor does it help if an animal eats the
balloon before it breaks down … if it actually does so. An example: When we moved into our house nearly three years
ago, one of the first things I did was buy an outdoor compost bin for household
waste. We use the compostable green bags
to collect vegetable peelings and tea bags before they’re transferred to the
big bin, dumping the whole lot into the composter so it can work its
magic. This past summer I finally started
excavating the compost for my flower pots and what did I find while doing
so? Green bags. Two and a half years inside a bin designed to
break things down was not enough to make them disappear.
On Facebook I follow Balloons Blow, a charity that works to stop mass
balloon releases, and they report that they have had so-called biodegradable
balloons sitting outside for over 4 years without them actually breaking down
completely. In my last blog post I
issued an entreaty that we think about things a bit more broadly, and this is something
that falls under that category.
Likewise re-using vs. recycling. The outcry that arose when Hugh
Fearnley-Whittingsall broadcast his War on Waste programme and showcased that
coffee cups were not recyclable was great … but it shouldn’t just be about recyclable cups. Instead, why not encourage re-use? Ditto with water bottles. Refill Bristol has made strides in showing how
businesses and consumers can work together to reduce waste. Let’s make sure we keep the Rs in their
proper order, and also rethink our
approach to tackling waste.