It might surprise you to hear a balloon professional and their industry association supporting a ban on the release of balloons and sky lanterns and in this blog I’ll explain why.
Sky lanterns are not comparable to balloons, but are often grouped into discussions around balloon
releases. These lanterns comprise of a flame inside a paper and wire structure which is released into the
sky, and there have been many well documented cases of sky lanterns descending and creating fires which have resulted in massive damage and disruption to both property, livelihoods and life. Banning the release of sky lanterns feels like a common sense thing to do.
NABAS (The National Association of Balloon Artists and Suppliers) recognise the negative environmental
impact that released balloons have. As a result, members are strongly encouraged not to support or supply any balloons for release, and to look for ways to inform customers about alternative options to balloon releases;
- Planting a tree (with permission if necessary)
- Scattering wild flower seeds
- Blowing bubbles
- Floating fresh flowers down a stream
- Releasing doves using a professional release service
Whilst we as professionals are turning down releases, there is nothing in place to stop members of the
public buying any balloons they like from the High Street or using disposable canisters and simply releasing their balloons themselves.
I was involved with a local beach clean in Norfolk a few years ago and we found evidence of one balloon.
The balloon itself had gone and the memorial card, supplied by the funeral director, was wrapped in
cellophane and ribbon. This goes against our industry best practise and suggests that the majority of
balloons are being released by members of the public who are not aware of the impact of their actions
when they choose to release balloons.
So what can we do? I make it part of my booking process to educate customers that balloons should not be released outside and that they should be disposed of properly after they have been enjoyed. If you
purchase helium balloons that aren’t weighted, insist that the retailer supplies one to prevent any
accidentally being let go. If they are a responsible retailer this shouldn’t be an issue. If everyone can play
their part and enjoy balloons responsibly, this will help to eliminate the damaging environmental impact
from carelessly released balloons.
If you’ve found this interesting, why not have a look at my blog on using balloons for maximum impact at
Claire Carney is an independent florist, a Certified Balloon Artist and NABAS Approved Balloon Décor
Instructor based near Norwich, Norfolk, UK.