Eurobodalla Shire Council has risen to the occasion in minimising the environmental impacts of balloons by banning their release at council events and in council-managed reserves.
Mayor Liz Innes put forward the recommendation to council in a Mayoral Minute at today’s meeting.
Approximately 95 per cent of released balloons burst in the atmosphere and litter small pieces of plastic to the earth. The remaining five per cent do not reach a high enough altitude to burst and instead drift hundreds of kilometres before descending to land or sea.
Cr Innes said balloons caused significant harm to the natural environment, including to marine life.
“I congratulate this council for stepping up and defending our environment,” Cr Innes said. “We’re challenging other councils to follow our lead.
“This proactive approach will ensure that Eurobodalla’s Shire’s natural environment, for which the South Coast is renowned, does not contribute to balloon litter here or across the world.”
Cr Innes said that even so-called ‘biodegradable’ balloons could last months or even years before they break down, causing harm in the meantime.
“Marine turtles, fish, seabirds, whales and even farm animals get entangled in the strings or swallow the balloon which then blocks the guts so that the animal will starve,” Cr Innes said.
“No child would release a balloon if they thought it would kill a turtle or other animal.”
Council will now advocate for state and national bans on balloon releases, as well as for programs on the issues associated with balloon releases, including littering and helium usage. It will also collaborate with neighbouring council areas and the Canberra Region Joint Organisation to support banning the release of balloons.
Council will continue to raise awareness of the negative impacts of balloon release and encourage alternatives to releasing balloons for celebrations and commemorations, such as bubble blowing, bunting, streamers, banners and flags, candles, or native tree planting.
Photo Caption: Council’s environment education officer Bernadette Davis and Mayor Liz Innes celebrate the ban of balloon releases at council events and council-managed reserves. They are pictured with balloon litter collected from the shire’s beaches, including one labelled promotional balloon found at Tomakin Cove in January, which travelled all the way from Alexandria in Sydney.