PARTYING WITHOUT BALLOONS
Balloons have to go, not parties!
Initiative: partying without balloons
Balloons are symbols of celebration that make you think of partying, joy and socialising, but once they are released into the air, they end up in the ocean and pose a threat to our environment.
A large number of sea turtles, dolphins and birds mistake them for food and die as a result.
The Princely Government, the Prince Albert II Foundation and the Oceanographic Institute are joining forces to organise the “Partying without balloons” initiative to encourage citizens to contribute, get involved and put forward ideas for alternatives that are just as festive but more environmentally friendly: we can work together to find a way to party that is harmless for sea turtles too…
What happens to a balloon when it is released...
Once released, a balloon will rise up to the sky until it deflates or until the reduction in atmospheric pressure makes it burst into multiple fragments.
This debris then falls back to earth and into the sea far away from the point where the balloon was released. According to the United Nations Enviroment Programme (UNEP), balloons are in the top 10 categories of recreational waste found on shorelines. They can cover thousands of kilometres and pollute the most remote and unspoilt areas.
...and what are the consequences for the sea?
Balloons have a negative impact on our environment, as they pollute streams, lakes and beaches. Releasing a balloon is the same as intentionally dropping rubbish on the ground or into the ocean.
When balloons are carried along in the water, their tattered edges and floating fragments can look like jellyfish or other marine life that are consumed by marine animals such as sea turtles, fish and dolphins.
When these fragments are mistaken for food and ingested, they can get stuck in the digestive tracts of turtles, for example, preventing the animal eating and causing a slow and painful death.
This young loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), just twenty centimetres long, was taken in by the Oceanographic Museum, who saved its life just in time by removing a balloon that it had ingested.
WHAT ABOUT ON LAND?
Land wildlife can also fall victim to balloons and balloon strings when the pieces fall to the ground alongside roads or rivers or into trees or bushes.
Birds have been found with ribbons wound round their beaks or wings, and have been found choked after getting tangled in strings attached to trees or power lines.
Just like marine animals, they can die after eating balloons. Unfortunately, almost half of all bird species are liable to eat balloon waste. This waste has also been found in birds’ nests and birds have been seen feeding it to their young.
WHICH BALLOONS ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
The balloons in question are “free-standing balloons without passengers or a useful load (particularly party balloons and floating lanterns with no useful load or with negligible loads such as correspondence cards)”.
These balloons are for recreational or commemorative use, and their envelope, their stiff plastic stem or the ribbon attached to certain models are a source of pollution.
Having fun without balloons
Party balloons are typically manufactured by polymerisation and, as a result, are not biodegradable.
Even though some balloons are labelled “100% biodegradable”, the term ‘biodegradable’ has no normative or regulatory value. In addition, balloons decay only under specific conditions and after a given time.
Even the balloons described as “biodegradable” are toxic for the environment and dangerous for numerous animals. Releasing them into the air is therefore not recommended!
ALTERNATIVES: A CALL FOR IDEAS
There are already some alternatives, such as natural soap bubbles, paper tassels, candles, kites or windmills, pennants, banners, etc.
If you have to use balloons, please keep them inside to reduce the risk of accidental waste and ensure that any balloons outside are securely tethered down. Avoid using non-biodegradable (filmed) mylar balloons, and make sure you pick up all balloons and accessories (such as clips and ribbons) afterwards.
You can also give your imagination free rein…who knows which creative and unique ideas you might come up with?
Feel free to share your ideas with us on the Facebook page for our initiative!