Children running with colourful balloons

The facts about releasing balloons outdoors

Balloons, when released outdoors, can end up in our waterways, oceans and parklands. These balloons cause damage to our environment and wildlife in two main ways:

  1. Pieces of brightly coloured balloons and plastic clip ties mimic the appearance of food and are often ingested by wildlife, causing obstruction and death.
  2. Ribbons and strings attached to balloons can strangle or entrap wildlife, resulting in death.

A 2016 CSIRO study identified balloons among the top three most harmful pollutants threatening marine wildlife, along with plastic bags and bottles.

The good news about balloons

There are many alternatives to balloons and balloon releases, from bubbles and ribbon dancers to remembrance plants.

There are also a range of unsustainable alternatives that should be avoided, such as sky lanterns and dove releases.

Zoos Victoria and Phillip Island Nature Parks have joined forces to urge Australians to blow bubbles instead of balloons at outdoor events.

Learn more about the benefits of blowing bubbles

What can you do about balloons?

  • Decide not to use balloons at all

    With so many alternatives on offer, you could make the decision to stop using balloons at home and in the workplace, whether inside or outside.

  • Avoid using balloons outdoors

    No matter how careful you are, when balloons are released outdoors they could end up littering and killing wildlife. Make a commitment to replace outdoor balloons with wildlife-friendly alternatives such as bubbles.

What about biodegradable balloons?

In reality, there is no such thing as biodegradable balloons. Many animals mistake burst so-called 'biodegradable' latex balloons as food, causing intestinal blockage and death. Even degraded remnants of balloons can be harmful to animals that ingest them.

While natural latex may be biodegradable, the addition of chemicals and dyes in balloon manufacture can make balloons persist for many months in the environment. Balloons that are released into the environment, even for a short time, can cause harm.

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