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Balloon Releases

Promotional-Balloons-IntroWhat goes up must come down, and balloons are a really good example of items that can travel long distances from their original location and many find their way into the oceans where they have been found to be a threat to marine life and seabirds through entanglement and ingestion.

There are many ways that businesses can market their products that don't have the potential to kill or injure marine life, but in many instances the impact isn't thought of when the decision is made to use promotional balloons.

These balloons were all found in the Daintree National Park beaches after they had landed in the Great Barrier Reef and washed up. All companies have been contacted and made aware of this issue, and asked to review their company policy on promotional activities and balloons.

If you find a promotional balloon, please send us a photo of the item and let us know when and where you found it. Also consider using our Balloon Release Action Guide to notify the company of where you found it, and more environmentally alternatives they could use for promoting their business.

If you are a business using promotional balloons check out these alternatives.

Lantern Releases as Dangerous as Balloons

lantern 1 ReneeWhile paper lanterns might be seen as a more environmentally friendly alternative to balloon releases they do still have an environmental cost, as litter in the environment, a hazard for wildlife and a potential fire risk. After finding one which showed evidence of having been alight, while walking in bushland in Meelup Regional Park, Tangaroa Blue team member Renee decided to report her find. She contacted the Meelup Regional Park Committee, the City of Busselton and the Department of Parks and Wildlife (the key stakeholders in the area) to raise her concerns.

Within days the City of Busselton responded, regarding the releasing lanterns at Meelup and elsewhere within the City as a potential bushfire source and litter. The outcome of this being lantern releases are now listed as not permitted in all event approvals in the Meelup Regional Park and elsewhere in the City of Busselton. This will also be followed up by story in the local paper to raise further awareness of the issue.

Balloon Ban Motion Successful

Swanbourne 1Sitting in the Cottesloe Council Chamber on 26 April 2016 listening to the allocated three minute public statements about the hazards of balloons took me back to Kununurra and the day this city mother, nurse and lawyer gutted a crocodile. Back to that later...

When word got out on social media that I had a motion up to ban balloons in Cottesloe, many people emailed me to ask how they could help. “Informed, factual but not too passionate public statements will do it”, I said. And you came!

When I attended a Tangaroa Blue Source Reduction Plan workshop in February, I had little knowledge about balloons being such a polluting hazard. However, my understanding for marine debris grew as I listened. When we made commitments at the end of the workshop, mine was to try to ban balloons in Cottesloe. As Suzuki said, think global, act local.

(Photos: Gunther Jank at Swanbourne Beach)

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Perth Council bans balloons to save wildlife

Ian Hutton BirdOn Tuesday 26th April, Cottesloe Council in WA passed a motion to move forward in creating a report to develop a by-law to prohibit the use of air or helium filled balloons at any events approved by or run by the Town of Cottesloe.

The decision caused controversy amongst the public due to a lack of understanding. Once released into the air, balloons can drift for hundreds of kilometers before descending, or even raise into the stratosphere where they burst and return to earth in a spaghetti-like shape. As “air borne litter”, balloons then end up in the environment, such as in waterways and in the ocean. At a recent Senate Inquiry on marine debris, concern was voiced since balloons were found to have travelled 300 km in less than 24 hours in Western Australia in 2014, reaching the coastline from a location far inland. (Photo courtesy of Ian Hutton).

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Bye bye, balloons

balloons smallYou might have heard about the devastating effect balloons can have in the environment: Air filled balloons can get carried away by the wind and helium balloons sometimes travel hundreds of kilometres. But when they return to earth, marine and terrestrial animals can ingest them and die from clogged intestines. If there was a string attached to the balloon, this might wrap around limbs or necks and slowly strangle its victim. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do something about it? Fact is, that many people responsible for balloon use and releases have no intention to do any harm and are simply unaware of the consequences of their actions.

With our Balloon Release Action Guide we have now made it easier for individuals to raise awareness.

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Help us raise awareness

20140125 ToysRUs BalloonThe remains of helium balloons are commonly found on Australia's beaches, posing an unnecessary and avoidable risk to wildlife. Check out the Facts About Balloons to learn more. Individuals around the country are doing their bit to fight this inappropriate fashion. You can help us prevent balloon releases.

Often, integrating a balloon release in a promotional event or private celebration happens not from a lack of care, but from a lack of awareness. If you hear that a business or private group is planning a balloon release or if you found a balloon with promotional print you can take action by sending the person in charge a letter bringing the issue to their attention. Check out our Balloon Release Action Guide for instructions and letter templates.

To prevent planned balloon releases invite others to send letters of concern too and contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for professional support.

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