Letting go of hundreds of balloons is a popular ceremonial tradition at memorials, schools, shopping centres, weddings and many other events. But, while balloons signal festive cheer to us humans, they spell death and destruction to marine life. Every year plastic is the cause of death for at least 100 000 sea creatures, including sea turtles, and over a million seabirds – so for Pledge #14 we’re asking you to ensure that your next celebration isn’t also a death sentence to sealife. Sourcing sustainable party decorations can be a creative and money-saving activity.
What can I do?
Pledge #14 is simple – ditch those balloons, ditch that cheap plastic junk, and use paper décor, reusable props and added creativity at parties instead:
- Just say no to balloons as party décor. What better way to teach your kids about the environmental impacts of balloons than by making their birthday parties balloon-free?
- Choose reusable bunting instead of balloons. Save some cash and make your own – see the video below!
- Too lazy to make décor yourself? Set up an activity station and let the kids make their own colourful sustainable party decorations!
- Get your school to sign a pledge to say no to balloons too. Many school principals are not even aware that balloon releases are illegal in South Africa.
- Instead of releasing balloons to commemorate an achievement, plant a tree instead.
- Considering hiring reusable props for décor, rather than once-off single use props
- Don’t believe the marketing ploy of “biodegradable” or compostable balloons – they create as much damage as any other balloons. If you truly want something balloon-shaped, how about some paper lanterns (please just don’t release burning ones over land or sea).
Why does it matter?
If you think of litter, you probably think of all the plastic etc. that lies discarded on the ground. But a balloon that disappears into the sky is also litter – they don’t just disappear into thin air. Ultimately what goes up, must come down. Whether snagged on electrical poles or ending up on beaches or in the ocean, these colourful orbs often travel across great distances only to pop when they get too high and then they come floating down again as litter.