Balloon Release that Killed People

The year was 1986.  I was only a mere 10 year old little girl. Some grown-ups in Cleveland, Ohio thought it was a brilliant idea to release 1.5 million balloons to raise funds for the United Way of Cleveland, calling it BalloonFest ‘86. In addition to raising money for charity, BalloonFest ‘86 was giving the city of Cleveland a lot of publicity since 1.5 million balloons would be the world record at the time.

If you follow this blog, most likely you are environmentally-minded and can predict that this would be a total DISASTER. Amazingly most people in Cleveland did not see the impending doom. Cleveland Police and Firefighters signed off on this project. 2,500 high school students signed up to volunteer to inflate balloons. This means teachers, principals, school administrators and parents all thought Balloonfest ‘86 posed no threat to society and even had their students participate in this. Where did they think that 1.5 million balloons would go? Mars? The ocean? Canada? 

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Invisible Plastic

Last year a member of my local Zero Waste group on Facebook asked if she should do bulk bin shopping in the context of living 20 miles away from the nearest store to offer it. Commentators on the post agreed that it probably was not a good idea. The additional miles driven would likely have a larger carbon footprint than the amount of plastic saved. 

I wondered if there is a way to express miles driven as a quantity of single-use plastic. Here is my best ballpark estimate:

1 mile driven = 5.3 standard size plastic water bottles

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Oranges can cure Christmas Consumerism

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‘Tis the season to remember that most of the world is not Zero/Low Wasters. ‘Tis the season to remember that most of the world does not watch their plastic consumption. We are in the midst of the Christmas season that starts sometime before Halloween, and ends sometime after New Years Day.

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The French Revolution and the Climate Strike

“Let them eat cake” is the most entitled line ever spoken in human history. Jean Jacque Rousseau wrote this line in his autobiography, stating an out-of-touch princess said this during a famine. He was actually referring to a Spanish Princess, but the angry French peasants in the late 18th century decided it was their Queen Marie Antoinette who said this. The reason that the french public so easily believed anything negative about  Marie Antoinette was because they were growing tired of her and King Louis XVI’s lavish spending. The problem was greater than just the monarchy. All of the French aristocrats paid no taxes, yet had immense power and wealth, while the poor continued to get poorer. This lead to the French Revolution, which at its core is a story of the poor trying to equalize power. It was a failure in some ways, as it eventually replaced the monarchy with another authoritarian ruler, Napoleon. Still, the French Revolution stirred up ideas and showed that the people will try to fight back if the rich continue to act too entitled.

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Gun Violence and Plastic Pollution

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March For Our Lives, the protest for common sense gun control, took place 5 weeks after the mass shooting that happened in Parkland, Florida, was one of the largest protests in American History, turning out 1.2 million people in 880 different cities across the United States. People were incensed, moved, and demanded change. I see this same anger as, yet again, we have two mass shootings back-to-back, in Dayton and El Paso. It seems like mass shootings have become a bi-monthly event in the United States.

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