Balloons have to go but the party continues!
Balloon-free parties initiative
Balloons are party symbols. They suggest celebration, joy and togetherness… but once in the great outdoors, they end up in the ocean and become a threat to the environment.
Many sea turtles, dolphins and birds mistake them for food and die after swallowing them. The Principality’s Government, the Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco and the Institut Océanographique are joining forces to lead a “Balloon-free parties” initiative to encourage citizens to get involved and contribute their ideas for alternatives that would be every bit as festive but more eco-friendly. Together, let’s celebrate without harming the sea turtles…
What becomes of a balloon once it’s released…
When released, a balloon climbs in the sky until it deflates, or bursts into several pieces due to the decrease in atmospheric pressure.
The debris then falls to the ground or into the sea, far from it was first released. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), balloons are among the top 10 items of recreational waste found along the coastline. They can travel thousands of kilometres and pollute even the most remote and unspoilt areas.
…and what are the consequences out at sea?
Balloons have a negative impact on our environment, polluting streams, lakes and beaches. Releasing a balloon is just as undesirable as deliberately throwing rubbish onto the ground or into the ocean.
When balloons float in water, their ragged edges sometimes make them look like jellyfish or other marine species that are preyed upon by turtles, fish, dolphins and other creatures.
Mistaken for food, the pieces of balloon are ingested, by a turtle for instance, and remain stuck in its digestive tract. This means the animal cannot eat properly and suffers a long and painful death.
This young loggerhead turtle measuring about twenty centimetres was taken in by the Musée Océanographique and was saved when, at death’s door, it finally succeeded in evacuating the rubber balloon it had swallowed.
AND ON LAND?
Land-living wildlife can also fall victim to balloons and balloon strings when fragments end up on roads and riverbanks or in trees and bushes.
Birds have been found wounded by pieces of ribbon wrapped around their beak or wings, or strangled after getting tangled up in string attached to branches or power lines.
And just like marine wildlife, they sometimes die after ingesting balloons. Unfortunately, nearly half of all seabird species are at risk of swallowing such debris which has even been found in nests where birds have been observed feeding it to their young.
WHAT KIND OF BALLOONS ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
The issue is with “Stray balloons carrying no passengers and no payload (in particular, rubber balloons and floating lanterns without payloads or carrying only trivial items such as postcards)”.
The very nature of these rubber balloons, used for recreational or commemorative purposes, makes them pollutants. Moreover, they often come with a plastic rod, ribbon or tie which also pollute.
Have fun without the balloons
Rubber balloons are usually manufactured by a polymerisation process and, as a result, are not biodegradable.
Although you may find balloons marked “100% biodegradable”, the use of this term is not subject to any standards or regulations. Moreover, their degradability requires specific conditions and a determined lapse of time.
So even “biodegradable” balloons are still harmful to the environment and a potential danger to wildlife. Therefore, the release of balloons into the air is definitely not recommended!
ALTERNATIVES: APPEAL FOR IDEAS
Alternatives already exist, such as natural soap bubbles, paper pompoms, candles, kites, spinners, bunting, streamers, etc.. But if you really must use balloons, then keep them indoors, if possible, in order to reduce the risk of debris and make sure any outdoor balloons are firmly attached. Avoid using non-biodegradable mylar film models and check that all balloons and attachments (such as clips and ribbons) are picked up afterwards. Or why not call upon your own imagination? Who knows what creative idea you might come up with for a unique alternative! Don’t hesitate to let us know via our Facebook page devoted to this initiative!