As I scroll through Pinterest I see images of balloon releases almost daily. I see them pinned to wedding and party boards, but most frequently I see them pinned to miscarriage and loss boards. I can understand the comfort and healing that can come from a release. I understand that people want to send their angels something on their special days. But, and please don’t think I’m heartless and stop reading, I don’t think these people understand the effect a balloon release will have on our world. If they did, would they really want that to be their child’s legacy? There are alternatives.
First a little information about the damage a balloon or paper lantern release can have on the environment. A beach litter survey organized by the Marine Conservation Society has shown the amount of balloons and balloon pieces found on the beach have tripled in the past 10 years. As balloons pop or deflate they return to earth as litter. Both marine and terrestrial animals, such as dolphins, cows, dogs, birds, and many other species have been hurt or killed by balloons. The animal is usually killed from the balloon blocking its digestive tract, leaving them unable to take in any more nutrients. It slowly starves death. The animals can also become entangled in the balloon and its ribbon making the animal unable to move or eat. Sea Turtles are especially at risk because they mistake balloons for jellyfish, their natural food source. Even “bio-degradable” balloons are hazardous. Said to break down in the same time as an oak leaf–which takes about four years–these latex balloons can lay around for years.
I was surprise to learn that paper lanterns are not any better. Beside the fact that they are not as biodegradable as you might think, these lanterns are very dangerous as they return to earth. Lanterns can cause serious burns to any animals or people who are hit by them on their descent. Wildfires and house fires have both been caused by lantern releases.
So what to do? If you search the web you will find many alternatives to a balloon or lantern release. Some suggestions include dove or butterfly releases (which have their own impact on the environment and can be very costly), but here are a few of my favorites:
A Bubble Release
There is so much I love about a bubble release. The shiny little orbs of magic floating up into the sky can contain so much. They literally contain your breath, but also your kisses, your love, your hopes, and your dreams. It’s like blowing kisses to heaven. The process of breathing in and breathing out to create the bubbles can also be very therapeutic. The image of hundreds of bubbles for each person gathered is breathtaking.
Beside that I love that it is so inexpensive, and supplies are everywhere. You can pick up a big bottle of bubbles from the grocery store for a few dollars or head over to your local craft or party story for fancy little bottle which can be purchased in bulk from the wedding department. Or even go in for a little more eco-friendly kick and make your own solution with this recipe from Green & Clean Mom
A Water Release
Float flowers or flower petals out on a pond, lake, or ocean. Just be sure they are not poisonous to indigenous wildlife first, and not an excessive amount.
Another possibility for a water release could be orange peel candles. I’ll admit, I just thought of this one and can’t find information on the potential environmental impact. I’ve seen orange peel candles all over pinterest, made by taking the fruit out of the peel and using the pith (the white flaky part of the peel) as a wick. There is a good instruction guide at Home Naturale. Now, you would be releasing fire into the environment, so be aware of your surrounding. I think I’ll try this one out in August around Auriel’s due date and let everyone know how it goes then.
Just a few credits before we go:
Thank you Balloons Blow for information on the environmental impact of balloon and lantern releases and the image of balloons on the beach.