Balloons

To reduce damage to wildlife and natural spaces, the City of Onkaparinga is no longer using balloons at council-hosted events. We are also encouraging those participating in events with council or on council land, to consider using alternatives to balloons.

Balloon use and especially balloon releases have become a hot topic. The trouble is, since the late 1980s latex balloons have been falsely labelled as “100% biodegradable and environmentally friendly” which has contributed to the popularity of balloon release ceremonies, especially as a way of memorialising a loved one or more recently baby gender reveals. Sadly, once out of sight, balloons reach an altitude where they burst and fall back to earth in pieces, which the wind easily disperses across our beautiful environment as litter and mistaken as food by wildlife.

It’s not just about the animals! Staggeringly, of all children’s products, balloons are the leading cause of suffocation death, and did you know that inhaling helium to get a laugh can actually be fatal. Research and stats show that helium gas displaces the air in the lungs in the same way water does when you drown and can quickly cause loss of consciousness. 

If you haven’t already had a chance to see it, check out the film documentary Rubber Jellyfish, released in 2018, which explores the effects of helium balloons on the environment, wildlife and human beings. Rubber Jellyfish, really made the balloon industry sit up and listen. A group called PEBA (Pro Environmental Balloon Alliance) are actually part of the balloon industry. They have conceded that there is no definitive proof that latex balloons are fully biodegradable and are encouraging party suppliers to stop selling helium balloons for release. Of course, its big business, so they’re still selling balloons for parties, but asking customers to ‘pin it and bin in’ when the party is over, which is a great start, but as they can’t be recycled still means they end up as waste to landfill.

Party suppliers Eco Party Box, based in Aldinga have been championing the balloon issue for some time and actually partnered in the making of the film which is a real win for our region.

As well as providing educational sessions to schools and community groups and spreading the word at our information stalls, the Sustainability and Waste Education teams run workshops on how to make your own party supplies as alternatives to balloons and have a brochure available in hard copy or download below.

Balloons are pretty bad(PDF, 504KB)

For more information or simply some advice on alternatives and support with encouraging change at your event please contact the Sustainability Team on 8384 0083 or sustainable@onkaparinga.sa.gov.au