Let me start by saying I hate Balloons, sorry that sounds a little harsh let me rephrase – I really hate balloons!
Balloons have long been a part of almost every celebration, with little understanding (or care) of how they’re harming the environment.
These seemly harmless little balls of air are responsible for millions of pieces of wasted plastic and debris every year. The most damaging effect of these tiny pieces of plastic on the environment is that they are mistaken for food by a number of animals including fish, whales and turtles. They then stay in the animal’s stomach which can lead to injury or death as a result.
I have lately been vocal about my strong opinions regarding balloons on Instagram. While I became the target of my dearest husband and brother’s jokes, I am certain that trying to raise awareness for latex balloon greenwashing is worth it.
But why balloons anyway? Let’s take a quick history lesson!
The history of balloons
Balloons and their history date back to 1782 when the first balloon was launched in Paris. The idea of balloons stayed popular through the 19th century but it wasn’t until latex balloons were introduced that they reached their full potential.
Balloon releases only really became a thing in the 1950s when helium balloons were released into the air at parties, weddings and funerals. Since 2000, the balloon industry has grown exponentially.
The Balloon Industry
Despite the environmental damage being done by latex balloons, the balloon industry continues to grow. Balloon releases are increasingly popular at parties and weddings which means more and more balloons are being introduced into our ecosystem. It’s estimated that approximately 10% of all balloons released end up in the sea or other waterways where they stay for years to come.
It’s such an easy thing to just stop buying, using and supporting. (But don’t worry I have some ideas for sustainable options further down)
Types of Balloons:
The latex balloon industry, which has grown out of control in recent years, is sadly causing environmental havoc. To understand why balloons are so environmentally unfriendly it’s important to understand their production process. Latex balloons are created by the natural latex of rubber trees that are, in some cases, up to 200 years old. The process used to acquire this latex is extremely hazardous to the surrounding environment and wildlife.
The balloons themselves are mistakenly marketed as biodegradable which is not true. Latex balloons can take years to decompose and when they do, the latex breaks down into polyisobutylene – a type of plastic. It’s estimated that 6-10% of balloons are released as litter which means balloon releases are effectively microplastics being constantly introduced into the environment.
To test this theory I popped one of these “biodegradable latex balloons” into my compost bin along with a pair of latex gloves. The latex gloves have degraded but guess what’s still there staring at me every time I add more food scraps! Yup those nasty balloons.
LATEX BALLOONS ARE NOT BIODEGRADABLE!
Foil balloons never ever degrade.
The core of foil balloons is formed by a tube of metalized polyester or aluminium foil sandwiched between two layers of thin plastic film. The seams are welded together to form the tube with one seam running down the length for the nozzle and a second running cross-ways.
The problem is that these balloons don’t degrade at all. They also often end up in rivers, creeks and oceans where they harm wildlife such as turtles and whales who mistake them for jellyfish.
In an attempt to offer some longevity, I established The Sutherland Shire Balloon Library recently. My local community is invited to contribute their used foil balloons to the library, and in return, I lend out those balloons to others to get a few more goes out of each one.
My neighbourhood saves money. And there are less of them going to the garbage or being recklessly dumped and polluted.
When they do reach the end of their life – which they do, I take special care to recycle them through TerraCycle.
Is it a perfect system? Of course not, but anything that can be done to safeguard the environment should be undertaken.
Please feel free to jump on board with this incentive (local to Sutherland Shire only at this stage) ENTER GROUP FACEBOOK TAG HERE with picture.
Don't Be Such a Bore!
Ok so you probably think I’m being a real party-pooper right now … but wait there’s more!
Nobody loves a party more than me. And when it comes to kids parties I am always the first person to start dishing out party ideas and decor themes, I LOVE KIDS PARTIES. Which by the way is why I started Little Ones Party Hire
I love a party but hate the waste.
So How do you have Balloons at your kid’s party without hurting the environment?
There are two types of Pom Pom Balloons
Paper Pom Pom Balloons
The paper ones. They are cheap and the non-plastic coated ones are recyclable (without the string) in the yellow bin. They are better than buying a new foil balloon or latex ones.
My only thing with these is they are painfully time-consuming to put together and fluff. (If you don’t believe me check out Google – people make instruction video’s because it’s such a pain ).
They don’t always look great after you’ve finally got everything unstuck, mainly because they tear and end up a little lob-sided. Additionally, they are a single-use item. And why use once when you can use over and over again right?!
Enter the Fabric Tulle Pom-Pom
When I started researching environmentally friendly kids birthday party goodies, the one thing that I really struggled to find was sustainable balloon options.
So I started making fabric tulle pompoms! These guys are amazing. They are big and fluffy and perfectly shaped. They come in so many different colours. And they really do put a final touch on the other party decor items.
Personally, my favourite way to use them is coupled with a themed backdrop, but some people prefer to use them through the venue or at the entrance.
The very best part of the tulle pom-poms is they are reusable, over, and over, and over again!!!!!
You don’t have to have a boring party just because you care about the environment. Little Ones Party Hire strives to keep the party going without costing the earth.
I’d love your feedback and comments. Feel free to pop me a mail or check out the webpage to see what other fantastic re-usable and sustainable products I offer.