We’re sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s time to talk about the consequences of celebrating with balloons. Sure, a large group of balloons taking off into a bright blue sky may be a wonderful sight to see, however, as the saying goes, “what goes up, must come down” – and when balloons do, the aftereffect is deadly for wildlife.
This goes for animals both on land as well as living both on land and in water. More often than not, animals mistake deflated balloons as a type of food source. Sea turtles are especially vulnerable to this dangerous scenario. To a sea turtle, a deflated balloon looks like a jellyfish, one of their most common prey. Yet balloons are in no way a suitable food source for any animal. When a balloon gets digested by the animal, it can cause intestinal blockages resulting in starvation.
Let’s dig deeper. You see, sea turtles spend most of their time underwater and come up for oxygen approximately every 20 minutes. When a turtle eats a balloon, it gets lodged in the turtle’s digestive tract, which then traps air which creates a buildup of gas in the turtle’s system, causing it to float and prohibiting their ability to dive back down for food and protection, resulting in starvation. This is called ‘Floater Syndrome’.
And it’s not only the balloon itself that poses a threat, the strings of the balloons are just as harmful. Other animals such as birds are very curious, so a brightly colored loose ribbon or string could easily become tangled on the animal. When this happens the animal is at risk of being restricted to their movement and ability to feed. Additionally, this can result in a dangerous infection, amputations, and/or death by drowning.
For most humans, balloons are just a single-use party favor used for one-day celebrations – But for a critically endangered species, it could be their last meal. By choosing to remove balloons and similar items (kites/Chinese lanterns, etc) from our lives, we can have an extremely positive impact on the world around us. Now that’s something to celebrate!
As far as we know, no party has ever gone to waste because someone didn’t buy balloons. Which is why we recommend not using balloons, to begin with. However, if you’re some kind of balloon addict who is unable to rehabilitate yourself 🙂 we suggest the following:
- Keep your balloons indoors – When balloons are outdoors, there is always a possibility that they will stay outdoors, resulting in additional litter in the environment.
- Keep them where you can see them – If the balloons are already outdoors, make sure they are securely tied together prohibiting them to fly away.
- Fill balloons with air instead of helium – Helium is a non-renewable resource used by scientists, and the supply of this gas is decreasing each year. Even though some scientists are opting for a more sustainable resource, others in the medical field are still using this gas for MRI scanners and other machines and can be used to help save the lives of newborn babies.
- Buy balloons made from natural rubber latex – A lot of balloons are made from mylar, these metallic looking balloons can get tangled in power lines disrupt electric service to an entire neighborhood.
- Don’t buy the plastic string – Opt for a string made from natural cotton instead.
- Tieing the balloons – Instead of using a plastic valve to lie the balloon, tie it together by hand.
- Don’t release them! – Releasing balloons is also a form of littering. Balloons will not float forever, and you know you won’t find it, later on, to dispose of properly.
Always remember, less waste leads to a cleaner and healthier planet! Check out our Eco Shop for ideas on how to live with less waste.