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Reduce Balloon Pollution

This morning I saw a post by Karmagawa about Balloon Pollution and felt quite strongly about it.

"URGENT ISSUE! ONE OF THE MANY REASONS WHY OUR TRASH PROBLEM HAS GOTTEN SO BAD, PLEASE SHARE! These pictures show where balloons end up and sadly our wildlife along with our beaches, forests and oceans suffer as a result. This blatant disrespect for the environment happens worldwide so we MUST stop this irresponsible behaviour now before it's too late! You might not think balloon pollution is the most important issue, but it is a problem and it's easily fixable through awareness and education so must all hold each other accountable for treating our environment with more respect RIGHT NOW."

Karmagawa and Savethereef on Instagram

What are balloons made of?

Modern balloons are made of rubber, latex, polychloropene, metalised plastic or a nylon fabric. Due to being made by such harsh chemicals, they take hundreds of years to biodegrade which especially isn't great when we're releasing them in to our environment.

Like with most plastic waste, when these balloons are sat under the heat of the sun, waiting to biodegrade, they release harsh and toxic chemicals in to our atmosphere, which in turn becomes the air that we breathe. Furthermore, once they finally start to break down, they don't disappear completely but rather become, again, micro plastics that then get in to our food chain through our water and soil that we then eat.

In addition, they're a Non-Renewable Product, chemicals made by fossil fuels, which when used for such a short period of time and then discarded, is an absolute waste!

The Issue

According to HRSD in their article, Understanding the Impact of Balloon Releases: Sustainable Alternatives to Balloons and an International Coastal Clean Up 2019 Report by Longwood University "Over a period of 5 years, volunteers have reported clearing up 4,916 pieces of balloon litter, with over half being found on beaches."

What goes up must come down. Balloons don't just disappear but can get snagged on trees and power lines, deflate or get popped and fall to the ground or oceans. Animals will eventually come along and ingest these plastics, particularly marine life. Believing that they are then full after eating something that is not nutritious, they then risk starvation while the balloon can cause intestinal obstruction. But some animals like to play with their food first and in turn will get tangled in the debris.

Many Scientific Reports state that, soft debris, like balloon material, is more hazardous to seabirds than hard debris which is the majority of what they consume.

According to "The data showed that a seabird ingesting a single piece of plastic had a 20% chance of mortality, rising to 50% for 9 items and 100% for 93 items."

Sea turtles are at special risk because the balloons’ form, shiny Mylar material, and vibrant colors of rubber and latex resemble their favorite food – jellyfish – when floating in the water. Balloons may clog a turtle’s digestive system, leaving the animal to starve to death.

NOAA's Fisherie

It may make your celebration look quite aesthetically pleasing, but beaches don't look pretty with the leftovers.

  • No balloon is environmentally friendly, even if it says biodegradable, it can still be harmful.

  • All balloons released become litter.

  • Most balloon releases happen in urban and rural locations but still make their way to a water source, even if thought that done some distance away is better.

Sustainable Alternatives For Celebrations Without Balloons

  • Blow Bubbles

  • Bells

  • Reusable Bunting made out of old clothing and materials

  • Make confetti out of leaves and petals

  • Candles

  • Make and throw seed bombs

  • Cakes

  • Flowers

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