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Time to Rethink Balloon Waste 19 November 2018

Balloon releases have become a popular way to celebrate or memorialise an event; hundreds of colourful balloons soaring into the sky is a powerful image but have you stopped to think about where they end up? As the saying goes, what goes up must come down, and balloons coming back to the land and sea can cause big problems. Cord and string pose a big threat of choking and entanglement to a range of animals. Deflated balloons can look like jellyfish, causing harm to animals such as sea turtles who swallow them.

Some companies are now encouraging people to use “eco–friendly” or “biodegradable” balloons however the reality is that due to the conditions necessary for these materials to break down they will still linger in the environment for many months, if not years – plenty of time to cause damage!

There are lots of alternatives available, such as blowing bubbles, a minute’s applause or planting

flowers/trees. The Marine Conservation Society has a brilliant “Don’t let go” resource which explains the dangers of balloons releases and some alternatives available, there’s also a shorter one which would be perfect to give out if you’re trying to stop a release from going ahead. Clean Cornwall has free KS1 &2 education packs for their “Hold tight!” campaign, visit their website to register to receive them and help share the word in your school.

Eco–Schools NI consider balloon releases a form of mass littering. Having a balloon release at school may put your Green Flag status in doubt.

The Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful position statement on balloon and lantern releases can be found under the Litter topic page on our website.