So I am going to come right out and say it – I have a love hate relationship with balloons. Yes! There you go a children’s event planner has said the unthinkable!
NO BALLOONS!? She is going mad!
Ok so the love portion of this relationship is easy right? I mean its colourful, and obviously its an instant colour HIT. It smacks you right in the peep-holes and it’s immediately obvious there is something to celebrate. Its easy to fill a room with helium filled latex and foil balloons stay within a colour theme…or these days within several idea themes. What a joy to realise I didn’t have to worry about having actual walking jungle creatures at a Lion King birthday party, thanks to the balloon walkers… I didn’t say life sized 😉 though if I did want that, we could have used the right coloured balloons to build a fairly realistic version of the pride lands!
The hate portion is also easy though in this day and age. The fact that the favourite thing for kids to do with their helium balloons is let them go! But here is the kicker… these balloons end up in the water somewhere, and when they do, they don’t usually burst like they do on land. It ends up in shreds with their tattered ends and floating pieces resembling jellyfish or other sea life consumed by marine animals such as sea turtles, fish, and dolphins. These pieces of latex are then mistaken for food, and when ingested, the pieces get lodged in the digestive tract, inhibiting animal’s ability to eat and causing a slow and painful death by starvation. And its not just the marine life. According to an article from OneGreenPlanet birds have been found with ribbons wrapped around their beaks or wings, effectively starving or strangling themselves. These birds also meet the same fate if they accidentally ingest the balloons.
And what if you are now aware of all these effects, but still love balloons… if nothing else than to keep a certain screaming 3 yr old happy.
Have them by all means, just make sure you dispose of them responsibly. Latex balloons are not bio-degradable. Balloons Blow conducted a study over several years, which proves this – so definitely don’t chuck them in the sea or leave them lying around where they could litter our land more. Deflate the balloons properly by cutting them to release the air. Cut off the strings and put them in with the recycling bin. Or use them to create little squishy stress toys – fill them with seeds, tie them up and squeeze your stresses away.
If you are using the foil /mylar balloons these can be re-used – ask your balloon supplier how to release the air and store them so you can reuse them or sell them on to someone else who might be able to reuse them. If they do burst and cannot be reused for anything, then put them into the recycling.
How plastics are recycled in your country is a larger problem of course, and if I start on that, we will be here forever. So where does this leave us? is this WAR? Am I never going to use balloons again? I will never say never, as we do try and help our clients achieve a look they envision. I also work some pretty great balloon suppliers who are just as concerned about the environment as I am. So this is a pledge to do better. To make better choices, to help my clients and you dear reader to make better choices.
Look out for our next article which will have other alternatives you can use instead of balloons to brighten up your event!
And if any of the information in this article is flawed or you have better ideas I would love to hear them!