Are Balloons Bad for the Environment?
Are Balloons Bad for the Environment?

As the world evolves to be more environmentally conscious, there’s been more and more articles being posted about balloons, which oftentimes are filled with misinformation or opinions stated as fact.

Let’s breakdown 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, a new thin, less permeable metalized film created “foil” balloons (commonly but incorrectly referred to as the film trade name “Mylar”) which could be made in a variety of shapes and designs that would stay afloat much longer than their latex counterparts. History Source.

Are latex balloons bad for the environment?

Produced from rubber trees, latex balloons are made from organic material and colored with organic 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.

Biodegradable Latex Balloon

Are foil balloons bad for the environment?

Made from a metalized nylon, foil balloons are not biodegradable but can be reused by deflating the balloon with a straw small enough to fit inside the balloon inflation valve. 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 what’s 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 negative effect on the environment and in fact, escapes into space. While periodically there are supply chain delivery challenges, new sources of helium are constantly being discovered in countries around the globe such as Canada, Qatar, and Russia.

Read: Are Balloons Using Up the World’s Helium?

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, an event like a memorial service or a sporting event would be celebrated 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 that balloons be weighted and disposed of properly to keep balloons from flying away. Read: 5 Reasons You Should Never Release Balloons Into the Air
Say No to Balloon Releases

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

The Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign educated generations of Americans about their role in preventing unplanned human-caused wildfires with the catchphrase, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Similarly, we encourage people to follow these important proper handling 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 a 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.

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