Up, up and away the balloons go…

This weekend our family enjoyed a fabulous day of art and culture at an event called Parade the Circle.  It literally brings art and culture to life when participants create interpretations of famous works of art and their artists through costumes, music and some of the most creative props I have ever seen.

balloon-pileAfter the parade the activities continued in a large park and we were enjoying the event until I noticed them dismantling the six enormous balloon arches that were used in the parade.  By ones, twos, (SEVENS!), groups of balloons took to the sky… and I simply thought “Oh no.  Someone make them stop!”

I’ve always been leery of balloons for the simple fear of my kids choking on one of them.  But there is also an on-going debate about the environmental effect of balloons, and that is what concerned me with this event.

The balloon industry argues that, because they are made of latex, they biodegrade at the same rate as an oak leaf and have no effect on the environment.  But environmentalists will disagree that the concern isn’t so much about their biodegradability, but the effect they have on animals that mistake them for food and consume them once they burst or come back down to ground.  Animals also become entangled in the strings and ribbons that are still attached.

Studies of marine animals that have beached themselves have turned up digestive systems blocked with deflated or partial deflated balloons, suggesting that they actually beached themselves to get out of their painful misery.  That’s all I need to hear.

While I’m not suggesting that we all swear off  balloons (because my kids would definitely be bummed!) I am suggesting that we take responsibility in just four simple ways:balloonbird2

  • Keep balloons indoors
  • Never purposely release them into the sky
  • When they are outdoors, weight them down to prevent “escape” and
  • Detach the strings and simply dispose of them properly when you’re finished with them

Everyone loves a parade and every kid loves a balloon, but what goes up must come down, and it’s a landing that can have a harsh and destructive reality.

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5 thoughts on “Up, up and away the balloons go…

  1. Pingback: » Environmentally Friendly - Healthy Lifestyle and Nutrition tips for Healthy Homes

  2. Hi! We really loved your post over at KiwiLog, and decided to feature it as part of our weekly mom blog round-up post. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  3. So timely for me that you wrote about this. We just attended a 2 year old’s birthday party on saturday at a local park. The mom let her daughter let 3 balloons go. She said she loves to do that. I cringed and had to choke back my opinion. It got caught right in the tree above us and I was secretly relieved thinking it will fall on the ground below and it will eventually (hopefully) make it into the trash can.

    I came home and told my husband about it. He was glad I didn’t say anything to the mom. I do know when it is and when it’s not appropriate to voice my green opinion. But it is hard to bite my tongue!

  4. KiwiLog – thank you! I consider that quite a compliment!

    PureMothers – oh, couldn’t agree more! There are times I would like to shout my opinion too, but there are certainly appropriate and inappropriate times to voice them. We also watched as clusters of balloons got caught in trees too… all I could think about at the time is how ugly they are going to look – eventually deflated and limp – dangling from their strings in those beautiful trees!

  5. I’m with you on balloons. But honestly, I don’t think we need them at all, There are so many ways to celebrate and find things that are not harmful. I too have seen those photos of birds. In addition, balloons of course, are not great for young children. They have been known to pop and children swallow them. So why not think up other things to do to decorate and have fun? What I’ve found is that rather than “taking away” things from our grandkids, if we can sit down with them and explain why we’re looking for alternatives, they are terrifically creative and don’t miss whatever is on longer part of our celebrations.

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