Choose an alternative to helium balloons when you celebrate

Like everyone else, I’ve watched helium-filled balloons bob up into the sky to the cheers of people celebrating some event or other – or to the cries of a young person who inadvertently relaxed their grip.  There’s something exciting about seeing them defy gravity and go up, up and away.

But what goes up must come down.  And since balloons are not typically biodegradable, they become pollution: often ending up in our oceans, where they can be fatal for turtles and other sea life that mistake them as food.  More on that here.

So what to do instead?  For celebrations, why not consider ribbon dancers, pinwheels or garden spinners?


For commemorations, why not consider a native seed bomb, releasing floating (native) flowers down a calm stream, or blowing giant bubbles?


More creative plastic-free celebration ideas here.

Greetings of the season, and Happy 2019!  Thanks for being a Green Ideas subscriber.


Alternatives to plastic toothbrushes

Most of us brush our teeth without thinking much about what our toothbrush is made of and where it ends up after we’re done with it.  But maybe we should.

Consider: most toothbrushes are made of virgin plastic; they’re unlabelled as to recyclability or they’re simply not recyclable; billions of plastic toothbrushes are used worldwide every year; and toothbrushes are one of the most common plastic items floating in our oceans or washing up on our beaches.

So what to do?  Alas, I haven’t been able to find a perfect eco-friendly alternative, but there are many things the average fan of dental hygiene can do:

  • BEST: a bamboo toothbrush with boar bristles: 100% compostable. However, you’re not alone if you find yourself cringing at the prospect of putting those bristles in your mouth; and they may be stiffer and therefore rougher on teeth than the average dentist may like.  Easy to find online if not available where you shop; one option here.
  • BETTER: a bamboo toothbrush with nylon bristles. The handle can be composted as long as you yank out the bristles first and trash them (they’re not recyclable).  A little work, but a pretty good result.  One option here; another here.
  • GOOD: a toothbrush with a replaceable head / reusable handle. At least not all of it gets trashed!
  • Small step in the right direction: seek out a toothbrush that is made from recycled plastic and is recyclable. (Call the manufacturer if recyclability is not indicated; enough customer concerns = change).

Happy brushing!