Our Planet – Don’t Let Go

205

Iam sure we have all purchased and accidentally released a balloon into the sky at some point in our lives, or a son or daughter has by accident. Have you ever thought where do they go? Studies on balloon biodegradability provide disturbing figures, especially for foil based Mylar balloons which are made of synthetic nylon with metallic coating. These are non-biodegradable and research suggests that they will last for tens of thousands of years in our environment. Although latex balloons do biodegrade with significant time, the plastic plugs and cords that are attached to them do not. These cords have been found to trap and kill wildlife. Then there is the additional issue of balloon plastic waste drifting into our oceans. Parties are a huge contributors to plastic waste, the Mylar balloons being of the greatest concern, but thankfully there are websites dedicated to providing sustainable products for parties, like
www.littlecherry.co.uk. As editor of the Forum, whilst walking my dog around our beautiful Itchen area I have collected 14 Mylar balloons in the last year. Generally these have a date on them, one showing a date of 2008. Even after 10 years in our countryside I could still clearly make out the words ‘Happy Birthday’ on it, the balloon hanging from a branch in Cheriton Wood.

The Marine Conservation Society have a dedicated page to try and bring some controls to this form of littering by banning balloon and lantern releases which is already in place in many counties, but not Hampshire.
The Marine Conservation Society
Don’t let go – Support a ban on balloon and
lantern releases
We need your help to show that balloon and lantern releases aren’t just a moment of fun without consequences later. Balloons sold as “degradable” are known to last a number of months, even years, and pose a choking threat to wildlife at sea, and on land. Balloons, balloon string and sky lanterns leave a permanent hazard. Now, forward-thinking local authorities and businesses are seeing the need to ban releases on their land, and you can add your support for others, too. Pledge your support for a ban on balloon and lantern releases in your area. More and more Councils are voting to ban the release of balloons and lanterns on their land. They’re making that decision after pressure from local people. Now we want to ramp up that pressure in areas where letting go isn’t on the Council agenda. Pledge your support below to help actively target Councils and campaign on a local level.

Where are they already banned?
Our map shows how many councils have banned either balloons, lanterns or both. There is still a lot of work to do though so please add your voice by pledging your support above.

You can also check our list of Councils with bans to see if yours is on there.

What else can you do?
Why not tweet/Facebook your council and encourage your social media networks to do the same? Copy and paste the text below (editing the Twitter name) to tweet your Council and/or write on your Council’s Facebook page.
Twitter #Balloons aren’t good in the #environment. Please (@mycouncil) #Dontletgo on your land. Vote to ban upward #littering @mcsuk

Facebook Sky lanterns and balloons may look pretty but they can harm wildlife at sea and on land (not to mention the fire risk they also pose). Will you follow other Councils and ban releases on your land? https://www.mcsuk.org/campaigns/dont-let-go #DontLetGo

Let us know what they say! (NB. If your Council already has a ban, why not tweet or Facebook them to say ‘thank you’ instead!)

[Note: Map Contains OS data © Crown copyright [and database right] (2017). Contains LPS Intellectual Property © Crown copyright and database right (2017). This information is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence.]

For more information or to sign a petition visit:
www.mcsuk.org/campaigns/dont-let-go