Biologists call for balloon ban

The BBC is carrying a story about biologists calling for a ban on mass balloon releases.  I must say, after reading the article it makes perfect sense.  I’ve seen plenty of huge balloon releases and likely only pondered where all those balloons would end up, but never gave any thought about it beyond that.  It would make perfect sense they would end up some where on the ground, after all, they don’t float around forever.  They will climb until they pop then the rubbish will drift around before falling back to earth (isn’t Gravity wonderful).  Well, its never once occurred to me that these would land and endanger animals.  Perhaps, had at some point in my life I’d been walking along and had the remains of a balloon fall on or near me it might have come to mind that these could fall into wild animal habitats.  I suspect if people are honest with themselves they’ve never thought about this either. 

BBC NEWS | UK | Biologists call for balloon ban

As cool as big balloon releases look, I have to agree with these guys.  I think it’s a bad idea.  Not to mention the general environmental impact all this rubbish will have.  Which is something else I’ve started to become a lot more conscience about recently. 


3 Responses to Biologists call for balloon ban

  1. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Every few years it gains a bit of a profile in the media, often when there’s been animals found entangled or when the power is knocked out because a transformer is shorted out by a wayward balloon (http://www.capecodtoday.com/blogs/index.php/2008/02/03/power_out_in_yarmouth_hyannis?blog=80, about halfway down).

    Many animals, such as the bird in the photo, die from entanglement rather than eating them. But for crits in the ocean, things that aren’t obviously inedible (such as rocks) are, by definition, considered edible. The BBC article mentioned a sea turtle that had eaten a balloon. Sea turtles eat things like jellyfish, which look a lot like a partially inflated balloon floating in the water, so it’s not surprising that a turtle might eat one and there’s probably nothing you can do to make them not look like a jellyfish.

    I happened to catch part of the Euro 2008 opening ceremony on the tv in a pub recently. I couldn’t hear what the commentators were saying, but I got the impression the event was trying to make some sort of environmental statement in the ceremony.

    And then they released hundreds and hundreds of green balloons.

  2. You have some good points and suggestions.. I’m not sure I’ve heard of fast degrading balloons, if they exist, but this would be a good idea. There is a lot in your comments that could prove to be an interesting debate, however this isn’t the forum for that.

    One thing I can see that isn’t pointed out in the original article is this.. if I was driving down the road and just dumped a large rubbish bag full of 100’s of old broken balloons with strings, ribbons, etc, etc I would no doubt be done for flytipping (littering). But this is exactly what companies that do mass balloon releases do, but they spread that rubbish all over the country and possibly other countries.. yet they aren’t held responsible for the rubbish they pollute the world with. How is that fair? There should perhaps be a requirement of balloon companies to put a tag on every single balloon released so the people responsible for cleaning up the mess can bill the company that ultimately put the rubbish there.

  3. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has called for the ban on mass balloon releases to protect the wildlife who they have found to be killed due to the waste effects of latex balloons. But is a ban the answer, or are the MCS guilty of using shock tactics to increase their profile ?

    While they do have a case for the problem, further evidence needs to be produced to find out why sea life are interpreting balloon fragments for food. Would an alternative be to release balloons that degradable within a few days of being released? or remove any plastic fittings or ribbon attachments from the balloon? Another idea is to release balloon colours that do resemble food (No green colours for example).

    Whatever the outcome, the Marine conservation society must work with the Balloon Companies and the UK Association (NABAS) to bring the concern to a conclusion. If the MCS succeed with banning balloons, the killjoys may be looking at criticising other businesses for their profile gain. Can MCS ban everything that may cause an accident?

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