Why I no longer buy celebratory balloons

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The cheerful killer

Finding ways into our marine life

image by @lianamikah

〰️ Cheap and often used for business promotions and birthday parties these cheerful bundles of joy, like many other plastics, find their way into the ocean and into the stomachs of seabirds and turtles.

Balloons have been found to be the deadliest marine plastic. Researchers have discovered that these are actually the most dangerous plastic sea birds can swallow. Those that swallow balloon fragments are 32 times more likely to die than birds that had only eaten hard plastics.

The reason balloons are so deadly is that they can contort and squish into stomach cavities causing major issues. And when a deflated balloon is floating along the ocean surface, it's easy for marine life to confuse it with squid especially as they fade and develop a slimy biofilm on its surface.

Like all plastic, it's baffling how so much ends up in the ocean, but balloons just like straws and microplastic have been found far out at sea. Scientists last year whilst out on a research voyage off Australia's east coast were shocked to find two groups of party balloons a dazzling 250 kilometres from the shore.

Personally, I choose to no longer buy them but I know that’s not always practical for everyone, especially children, so if you do use them please be very conscious of how you dispose of them. Even though we may pop things into our red bins with good intention, often small and light items like these can blow away in the process of being emptied into the larger truck or landfill. Make sure you pop your used balloons completely deflated into a container or package in your bin which traps it and stops it from flying away in the process.