5 Traditions That Are Terrible for the Environment (and What You Can Do Instead)

5 Traditions That Are Terrible for the Environment (and What You Can Do Instead)

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Holidays, weddings, and funerals — all occasions which can be virtually bursting with custom. Traditions are essential not solely as a result of they bridge the hole between the generations, but in addition as a result of they produce a real sense of consolation and belonging in households. However, a number of the customs handed from one century to the subsequent have confirmed to be a bane to our surroundings. Here are just some cherished rituals that it could be time to re-evaluate.

Sky Lanterns

people releasing lanterns into the night sky

Sky lanterns are a well-loved custom in a number of cultures, and are used world wide to rejoice holidays, make needs, or mourn the passing of a beloved one. They’ve grow to be so standard, the truth is, that whole festivals are centered on massive teams of individuals releasing the glowing lanterns into the evening sky.

Though they’re undoubtedly lovely, even biodegradable lanterns may be extremely dangerous to each the setting and wildlife. Sky lantern litter takes fairly a while to decompose, and the wire frames have been recognized to strangle and maim wild animals and livestock. They additionally pose a big hearth hazard. Not solely have they brought about a number of wildfires, however a sky lantern was additionally responsible for a massive fire on the Smethwick Recycling Plant in England, in addition to a fire that killed 50 animals within the Krefeld Zoo in Germany.

They have been banned in dozens of states in addition to a number of international locations — and lately the Isle of Man — but sky lanterns stay standard all through the world regardless of the hazard they pose.

Instead of releasing sky lanterns, contemplate blowing bubbles to make needs, or floating a couple of native flowers down a stream to commemorate the deceased or make a want.


firework display reflecting over waterfront

Ah, fireworks, a time-honored methodology of celebrating … effectively … absolutely anything value celebrating, actually. As mesmerizing and lovely as they’re, fireworks can lead to substantial air pollution issues. As for the refuse that falls to the bottom, litter and chemical residue from propellants and colorants can get washed into lakes and rivers by rain. And, after all, there’s the ever-present hazard of wildfires.

Unfortunately, it’s fairly laborious to re-create the magic of fireworks with different strategies, so in case you will need to have them, depart it to the professionals and luxuriate in a sanctioned fireworks show like these run by native municipalities on Independence Day.

For your private festivities, as a substitute of portray the sky with explosive chemical compounds, contemplate blowing glow-in-the-dark bubbles, attending laser exhibits, utilizing a lightweight present projector, or projecting significantly luminous fireworks exhibits previous onto the lounge wall.

Christmas Trees

decorated Christmas tree

Although the real vs. fake Christmas tree debate nonetheless rages each vacation season, relating to eco-friendliness, neither is with out its drawbacks. Tree farms dole out water and pesticides like Santa does toys. However, actual timber soak up carbon dioxide whereas they’re rising, and whenever you’re executed, they’re 100% biodegradable. Artificial timber may also help you keep away from killing their dwell doppelgangers and don’t require any water. However, dangerous pollution are launched into the environment throughout their manufacturing, and when all’s stated and executed, they often find yourself in a landfill — the place they’ll by no means biodegrade.

If you could have your coronary heart set on the standard fir, choose a Christmas tree from an area farm and recycle it after the vacations. This retains its carbon footprint low. Better but, rent a live tree that’s safely returned to the nursery after the vacations. And in case you’re seeking to attempt one thing new, contemplate adorning a potted plant in your house, constructing your personal Christmas tree out of recycled supplies, or simply forgoing a tree altogether.

Diamond Engagement Rings

diamond engagement ring

Diamond mining has taken an extremely heavy toll on a lot of South Africa’s setting, inflicting widespread soil erosion, deforestation, and demise of wildlife. Rivers have been rerouted, once-farmable land has been left devastated and native populations have been pressured to relocate. Furthermore, deserted mining pits fill with stagnant rainwater and host mosquitoes, spreading malaria and different waterborne ailments. And all that’s with out even touching absolutely the horror of the blood diamond commerce.

To keep away from the environmental and social evils related to diamond mining, choose lab-created gems, classic items, or recycled supplies as a substitute.


stone wall surrounding traditional graveyard

Traditional burials create an entire host of environmental issues. Trees are lower down, reworked into caskets, lacquered and completed, then buried underground — looks like a horrible waste of usable wooden. Once the physique and casket break down, the chemical compounds contained in embalming fluids leach into the water desk. While a burial vault might forestall this from taking place, the vault itself doesn’t decompose, making it environmentally unfriendly. Finally, the grass expanses of recent cemeteries require quite a lot of water to be saved lush and inexperienced — and that’s only a nightmare from a conservation standpoint.

Luckily, there are a selection of eco-friendly options to conventional burials, together with natural burials, tree cremain urns, having cremains added to a coral reef, and even human composting.

Changing Traditions

As time marches ahead, traditions should as effectively. Though altering our customs could appear disrespectful to those that got here earlier than us, it’s way more essential to maintain the planet wholesome for the survival of future generations. The most essential factor about traditions is gathering with family members to make recollections and share values — and that may simply be executed in an environmentally secure method. Here’s to a future stuffed with sustainable traditions!

Originally revealed on March 15, 2017, this text was up to date in September 2021.