Why Releasing Balloons is No Cause for Celebration
Why Releasing Balloons is No Cause for Celebration for the Environment
Most of us have attended a celebration where balloons or lanterns have been released. They are pretty, and they’re a spectacle, but it seems they also pose a problem for the environment.
Environmental campaigners are urging local authorities to ban the release of balloons and Chinese lanterns on public land, as beach litter surveys have found a dramatic increase in litter from these items in particular.
The Marine Conservation Society's (MCS) annual Great British Beach Clean survey reported that the amount of latex or foil balloons and strings that had ended up on beaches had risen by 53% from 2015 to 2016.
The litter and debris from balloons and sky lanterns can harm to wildlife on land and in the water as animals can become entangled in strings.
The ‘Don’t Let Go’ campaign
Over 50 local authorities have signed up to the Marine Conservation Society’s ‘Don’t Let Go’ campaign, and they have banned the release of lanterns and balloons on public land, including in parks, leisure centres, and schools. The society is hoping that more councils will follow suit, as it wants to see all balloon releases stopped, stating that the main reason is that over 80% of balloons remain intact when they hit the ground, meaning more litter and harm to wildlife.
The problem with latex
Balloons are made from latex. Many people think that because latex is natural so it is harmless, but that’s not true. Latex can last for up to 4 years if it makes its way into the ocean. Lanterns can harm wildlife, and they can be a fire hazard to crops and buildings. Balloons and lanterns are banned in some US states and in some parts of Australia, Germany, Vietnam, and Spain.
Why is latex so bad for the environment?
Latex production uses large amounts of water and energy, as well as chemicals. Waste water is produced which usually smells bad and contains chemicals such as ammonia. A high concentration of ammonia in water can kill aquatic wildlife.