Balloons flying

Action: Stop using party balloons

Cost of taking action: £/$/€ NIL

Here’s a simple action; please stop using rubber or foil balloons as part of your celebrations of birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and so on. There are plenty of alternatives that do not do the very serious damage to the environment, wildlife and sea life that traditional balloons do. Balloons are a consumer-driven artificial creation which serves no real purpose, and does a lot of harm. So please, just don’t buy balloons, and if you are given them, don’t release them, pop them safely and put them into the waste system properly.

What are party balloons made from and filled with?

Generally what we refer to as rubber balloons are made from latex. They are often referred to “biodegradable” but in fact this is untrue and does not justify their use. Latex balloons are the ones most commonly found in the stomachs of dead animals.

Foil balloons

Foil balloons are often also used. These are equally damaging. They are made from a shiny material called mylar. Mylar is not recyclable with your everyday household rubbish and is not biodegradable.

Balloons that float (i.e. are lighter than air) are filled with a gas called helium. Helium is a rare essential resource for other purposes, including important industries and medical interventions. This waste of resources is atrocious – helium is needed to cool the superconducting magnets in MRI scanners at hospitals and there is no substitute for this.

Once helium is released into the atmosphere it is gone forever; there is no chemical way of manufacturing helium.

The harm done by balloons

Balloons kill farm animals, sea life and wildlife. Many animals mistake balloons for food, causing them intestinal blockage and a painful death. Ribbons and string sometimes tied to balloons will last many years and can entangle any animal that comes in contact with it, causing injury and death. The images, for example, at make for harrowing viewing. Balloons travel many miles once released, and pollute and litter our environment.


Alternatives can include planting plants and trees, a flower garden, flags, banners, streamers, dancing inflatables (reuseable or genuinely and speedily biodegradable), dancers, kites, garden spinners, vibrant fabrics that dance in the wind, bunting, waves of fabric, windmills and pinwheels, tissue paper pompoms, music, floating flower displays, seed bombs, bubbles (including GIANT bubbles), origami, coloured lights and candles.

Parties can be exciting without balloons and memorials can be meaningful without balloons, so please don’t use them, and please discourage their use by other individuals and by organisations.

If you are logged in as a Rotary World Saver you can read amore detailed article about this topic at this link.

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