Balloons are awful things, that cause so much damage. Firstly, the helum silver balloons (and those bouncy balls) never biodegrade. But ‘biodegradable’ balloons (latex) take six months to break down, so by the time this happens, they have floated up to the air, exploded into millions of fragments and fall down to earth. They then get eaten by cattle and cause belly ulcers (ask any farmer) or more likely at sea (like 70% of everything) and get eaten by endangered sea turtles, who mistake them for jellyfish (their favourite food). Instead, consider Peony & Thistle bunting (made from recycled books).
Balloons are also a serious choking hazard, with many children having died. If you think about it, if a balloon gets stuck in a child’s airway, you can’t do CPR, as it would expand the balloon. Most balloons are also wrapped in plastic. All animal welfare charities want them banned (a horse in Yorkshire recently died when it spooked on a choked balloon – the nylon string is also dangerous).
Please don’t release balloons. If you have to buy them, then keep them indoors or securely tied with biodegradable raffia and cut with scissors (just below the knot) when done and dispose of securely.
where to recycle unwanted/used balloons
You can recycle foil balloons for free at Terracycle and participating stores. There’s also a holiday supplies box (the community pays one fee and then everyone can have a ‘balloon amnesty’ depositing all their balloons to be sent away to make into bouncy floors for children’s play castles. The same box accepts plastic cups, cutlery and straws, sweet wrappers, decorations (tinsel, ribbons, party hats/blowers, plastic figures and costume masks).
alternatives to balloons?
There are none really. Why does there always have to be one? If you light anything and let it float away in the sky, it’s going to cause damage. Just like not releasing balloons, just celebrate in other ways like having a nice meal, going for a walk in nature or just remembering (if it’s done for memorial purposes). We must get away from the perpetual notion that we always have to ‘do something or buy something’ to celebrate. Even astronomers are annoyed at the thought of people ‘buying stars to name after someone’.
If you really want to try something else, Peony & Thistle offer beautiful bunting in several designs made from recycled materials like maps and books (so each one is unique). Not for outdoor use.