Reducing Balloon Releases Through Church Networks

Balloon releases are often associated with memorials or celebrations, which can be hard to get changed at the last minute, which is normally when we hear about them! Rev Linda Chapman Rector from the Anglican Parish of Moruya & Open Sanctuary at Tilba in southern NSW has launched a new education campaign through her church networks to explain to clergy members and celebrants the impacts that balloon releases have on the environment and some great alternatives.

Rev Chapman has shared her letter with Tangaroa Blue Foundation to inspire others in finding ways of reducing balloon releases during these kind of events. Please see her letter below.

Dear Clergy/Celebrant,

Balloons, Ceremonies and the Environment

Many people today are very engaged with the planning of ceremonies that mark some of the most significant events of life. Weddings, Funerals or Celebrations of Life, Memorial services and so on are all important times of gathering for communities and families.

As you know they are rituals that facilitate both expressions of grief and healing or expressions of joy and celebration. Various symbols may be used at such times that support our needs for human expression and transition. One of those aids currently used are balloons, which participants release into the air at a particular time during the ceremony.

Many people, however, are surprised to learn that balloons can cause significant harm to the environment.

Here are some facts you may be interested in:

  • 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.
  • Although some balloons are made from natural latex and are marketed as an environmentally friendly option, these will still take years to break down and are known to harm and kill animals in both the marine environment and on land. The attached strings and clips on balloons will last much longer in the environment and go on to be eaten or entangle marine species.
  • We are writing to you to invite you to consider removing balloons as an option for use in the ceremonies that you lead and/or plan. We believe that once anyone is made aware of the impact balloons, their ribbons and clips have on our marine life it isn’t usually something one would want to leave as a legacy in a loved one’s name. And likewise a joyful occasion such as a wedding or other event that includes balloons could be marred by the knowledge that balloons used can harm or deny the life of other creatures.

    We very much appreciate the value of such symbols as balloons however we would like to suggest some alternatives such as:

    Blowing bubbles, Planting a tree, Flying kites, Lighting candles or Displaying flags or banners.

    We invite you to be part of this awareness raising campaign to prevent further damage to our precious environment by letting others know about it so that our celebrations of life will be balloon free.

    For more information contact Eurobodalla Shire Councils environment team on: (02) 44741000

    And, you can find more information about the harm that released balloons cause at:

    With kind regards to you and for your life-giving ceremonies,

    Rev Linda Chapman
    Rector, Anglican Parish of Moruya & Open Sanctuary at Tilba

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