Why We Shouldn’t Release Balloons or Sky Lanterns

New Year’s Eve just ended! Parties happened left and right. Most celebrated with fireworks displays, while others celebrated with balloon or sky lantern releases, creating magical spectacles of hundreds – if not thousands – of light and color rising up and up in the air until they disappear from our sight.

Meanwhile, however, all those balloons and sky lanterns will eventually fall from the sky to litter our streets and oceans, killing countless marine animals that mistake the remains as food or get entangled in the debris. Sky lanterns will become floating fire hazards. In the past, they have even caused structural fires and massive wildfires. This is the ugly truth of balloon and sky lantern releases.

Damage caused by balloon and sky lantern releases

Countries like Argentina, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Spain, Germany, and parts of Canada and the USA have actually already banned the release of sky lanterns.

According to environment and wildlife protection groups, balloons and sky lanterns are falsely marketed as biodegradable. The right conditions and many years are required for the materials used in balloons and sky lanterns to biodegrade properly.

There is also the issue of helium as a finite resource on Earth to consider. Helium should be reserved for medical, construction, and scientific use–and not wasted on party balloons, say scientists.

Marine creatures killed by balloons and sky lanterns

Marine creatures killed by balloons and sky lanterns

Two latex balloons and a string were found in the digestive tract and esophagus of the sea turtle. The albatross got entangled in balloons and string.

So what can we do?

We can stop organizing balloon and sky lantern releases for one thing or we can gently suggest alternative and more responsible activities to event organizers. We can also report cases of planned balloon / sky lantern releases to environmental groups and the DENR. Please take pictures.

It’s important to show that we care about the environment and that we are willing to take action to protect it. In this age of information, I don’t really see how ignorance can continue to be an excuse for environmentally destructive activities.

Here are 10 ecofriendly alternatives to balloon and sky lantern releases:

Alternatives to balloon and sky lantern releases

What do you think? Can you suggest other alternatives to ballloon and sky lantern releases?

Photo credits: Save Philippine Seas and BalloonsBlow.org