Why do Planet Sustie not sell balloons? When Roisin and I started talking about Planet Sustie one of the first products we talked about was balloons. You can’t have a party shop without balloons, can you? With further research we realised that we weren’t going to have balloons on our site. In order to give accurate information to you about balloons and why we don’t sell them, we decided to ask the experts – Madeleine and Tara from @changebydegrees and @plasticfreekinsale for their opinion and this is what they said.
Everyone loves a good balloon, or do they?! Balloons are regarded as the go-to party item when it comes to celebratory paraphernalia. They’re colourful, fun to play with and even when they burst, they make people happy! However, as understanding and awareness is raised around single use plastics and waste, a shift has occurred in attitudes. What’s the problem with balloons? Most are made from soft plastic, which cannot be recycled in Ireland right now. This means that a burst balloon ends up in the regular rubbish bin and eventually in landfill. Another problem is that balloons often blow away and if they end up in the ocean, they can be mistaken as food and eaten by marine wildlife. If swallowed, a balloon can block an animals gut and cause it to starve. Sea turtles are particularly at risk because they naturally prey on jelly fish and a floating balloon looks a lot like a jelly fish. Equally, balloon strings and ribbons may entangle animals and restrict their movement and ability to feed.
The Single-Use Plastics Directive voted on by the European Parliament has already added plastic balloon sticks to the soon-to-be-banned items. This means you literally will not be able to buy these anymore, anywhere in Europe. We believe balloons will be eventually added to this list. Eco-alternatives? A biodegradable balloon made of latex rubber poses the same basic problems as a plastic one – it will take years and years to decompose so it is just as likely to be eaten mistakenly by wildlife and if not disposed of properly, is just another source of litter. Natural latex may be biodegradable, but after adding chemicals, plasticizers and artificial dyes, it still remains a threat to our environment and to wildlife. Foil balloons take an indeterminate amount of time to breakdown and are also a hazard to wildlife.
Mindful use of balloons is better and no use at all is best! Straight up – never let them go when outside. Hold on tight! Fill them with air, not helium (which is a finite resource). Avoid the foil ones and buy natural, un-dyed, latex if you absolutely have to. Understanding single use waste It takes a lot of resources to make balloons and their use at a celebration is sometimes only for minutes. Once disposed, they will end up in landfill which is a source of greenhouse gases which cause climate change. If not collected up correctly, they are litter and pose a danger to wildlife. Anything that is created using finite resources and then used and disposed of within minutes or days is a waste, regardless what it’s made from. So think about alternatives to balloons like blowing bubbles or making paper flags, streamers or bunting. There are lots of ways to have fun.
Watch this https://youtu.be/BuEuXVksjyA
Madeleine and Tara
So there are the facts. We hope that this is helpful to you in making considered decisions when organising a party or event. Many thanks to Madeleine and Tara for helping us with this piece.
Planet Sustie for all your planet-friendly party needs.