Biodegradable Balloons Information

Everything you need to know about the balloons we use !

Balloon Basics

There are three broad categories of balloons: latex, foil (commonly referred to as Mylar or metallic), and those made from a stretchy, transparent material.

Latex Balloons

Latex balloons are made from a natural product derived from trees found on farms in equatorial regions of the world (the trees also exist naturally in rain forests and other places). The harvest of latex is a completely natural process. The trees are “tapped” for the liquid, similar to the harvesting of syrup. The trees are not trimmed or chopped in any way, so there’s no risk of deforestation.

 
Since latex is a 100% natural product, it will breakdown into a residue that is not harmful to the environment. Latex balloons biodegrade at about the same rate as other natural products, such as oak leaves and wood fibres. It is a chemical process not always visible in early stages. How long it takes to biodegrade ultimately depends on the environment—is it wet or dry, light or dark, and many other variables. Scientific studies conducted as early as 1914 and continuing through today prove this. These studies specifically documented the effect of many different types of bacteria and the degradation of latex. (Jendrossek et al., 1997).

Watching these bacteria at work doesn’t require expensive equipment or expertise.

The best approach? Composting!

It’s a fun and teachable activity for kids, and the resulting fertiliser can be used in the backyard. For tips on how to compost, check out this video.

Does this mean it’s OK to release latex balloons into the air?
No. While latex balloons are biodegradable, the length of time it takes these balloons to decompose varies based on environmental conditions. So they should be properly disposed of in a garbage bin or composted.
Read: 5 Reasons you Should Never Release Balloons
Latex Facts
● One tree can produce latex for 40 years.
● Latex balloons decompose at the same rate as wood fibres.
● The rubber tree farms create jobs, promote and protect various plant and animal species, and even draw carbon from the air!

Foil/Mylar & Stretchy Balloons

Foil balloons and stretchy balloons are made from metalised nylon and a mix of other products. Though not biodegradable, some cities accept them into citywide recycling programs. These balloons can also be inflated, deflated, and reused!

Remember, the most important thing when using helium-filled foil or stretchy balloons is to weight them!

Responsible Balloon Use

Don’t purposefully release any balloons into the air – they can become tangled in power lines and cause interruptions or float away.

Keep all balloons secured to a weight to avoid accidental release.

When finished with balloons that you don’t intend to reuse, cut the neck, and properly dispose of them.  Remember that many foil balloons can be deflated and reused.

Spread the word! Educating others about responsible balloon use will allow us to enjoy the environment and balloons for years to come.

Balloon releases have long been a festive element of life celebrations. But releases are not a part of responsible balloon use. Thanks to the creativity of many people, there are fun alternatives that achieve the same sentiment without the fallout—quite literally! Click here to get some ideas.

With just a few mindful steps, we can continue to enjoy the wonder and entertainment of balloons.

Are Balloons bad For The Environment?

As the world evolves to be more environmentally conscious, more and more articles are being posted about balloons, which often include misinformation or opinions stated as fact.

Let’s break down this question and get the facts out. Here’s what you need to know about balloons and their impact.

 

Balloon History

Balloons have delighted people for centuries. Early records show the Aztecs created balloons from animal intestines. In 1824, Professor Michael Faraday invented the rubber balloon to use in hydrogen experiments at the Royal Institute in London. A year later, latex rubber toy balloons were introduced in England. Balloon twisting began in the 1930s and 1940s as people discovered how to manipulate and shape balloons.

In the 1970s, “foil” balloons were created from a new thin, less permeable metalized film which is commonly, but incorrectly, referred to as the film trade name, “Mylar.” These balloons can be made in a variety of shapes and designs that stay afloat much longer than their latex counterparts.

Are Latex Balloons bad For The Environment?

Latex balloons are made from organic material produced by rubber trees and coloured with natural pigments. Because of this, latex balloons are biodegradable as well as photodegradable, and by themselves are not inherently bad for the environment.

However, it is important to always weight balloons (so they don’t float away) and properly dispose of them.

Are foil balloons bad for the environment?

Foil balloons are made from a metalised nylon. They are not biodegradable, but can be reused by deflating the balloons with a straw small enough to fit inside the balloon inflation valves. Learn how to deflate a foil balloon here.

To keep our world clean and beautiful, responsibly use and dispose of items – including balloons – properly. Keep foil balloons weighted and out of the air to prevent potential power outages if contact happens with power lines.

 

Are helium-filled balloons bad for the environment?

Helium is a colorless, odorless, inert, non-toxic gas and is used to make balloons lighter than air….or float. But is it bad for the environment? The answer is no.

When released into the atmosphere, helium, the second most abundant element in the universe, has no adverse effect on the environment and, in fact, escapes into space. While there are periodic supply chain delivery challenges, new sources of helium are continually being discovered in countries around the globe such as Canada, Qatar, and Russia.

Remember: when you use helium in balloons, always attach a weight to prevent unintentional releases. Don’t make a child cry because their helium balloon accidentally flies away – always make sure there is a weight attached!

Are balloon releases bad for the environment?

In years past, we might celebrate an event like a memorial service or a sporting event with the intentional release of balloons into the sky. Many found this created a sense of wonder or exhilaration while watching them float upwards. With a renewed focus on environmental impact, it’s time to retire the tradition of releasing balloons and insist balloons be weighted and disposed of properly to keep them from flying away.

Don’t Let Go: Love Balloons & The Environment Too!

We encourage people to follow these important proper handling and safety tips when it comes to balloons:

• Never release a balloon outdoors!

• Helium-filled balloons always need to be weighted.

• Don’t tie helium-filled foil balloons together in a cluster before tying to a weight. Be sure they are all individually secured to the weight.

• Never tie a metallic ribbon to a helium-filled foil balloon.

• Call the power company if you see balloons entangled in power lines.

• Properly dispose of balloons in a trash (or recycling!) bin after deflating.

• Whether it’s a single balloon or hundreds, take care of the environment by not releasing balloons, by always disposing of them properly and by educating family and friends of these important practices.

Dispose Of Balloons Properly

Finished enjoying balloons? Dispose of properly by popping each balloon with a pin or scissors and placing in a trash receptacle. Because latex balloons are biodegradable, they can actually be composted! If you have a compost pile or a composting facility near you, this is a great way to dispose of latex balloons. 

Recycle Your Balloon Waste

These tips help you manage the balloon waste after your event. But don’t stop there! Companies like TerraCycle offer programs to recycle all of your post-party supplies, not just balloons. With your help, we can create a cleaner world after all of life’s celebrations.

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