Three reasons to pass on the helium balloon

helium balloons

 

Nothing says fiesta or school fete quite like a helium balloon, right? But what if that lively, lighter-than-air frivolity wastes a precious resource and chokes marine life? Here are three very compelling reasons to give up helium balloons.

More than fun & games
Helium has a greater role to play than spiriting a balloon away from a grumpy child at a festival. It is used in hospitals for MRI scans and with oxygen to help people breathe. Wasting it for fleeting fun is in poor taste when you consider that it could be used to save a newborn baby instead. Which brings us to point 2…

Limited resource
The gas that makes your voice go funny is actually a non-renewable natural resource, and we’re fast running out of it. The helium we access today was created as a byproduct of the Big Bang or is formed as radioactive materials break down. This takes billions of years. Helium is stored in the earth’s crust, and once released it simply disappears, like that balloon you let go of. Only that doesn’t actually disappear. Which brings us to reason number three…

Environmental impact
No matter how conscientious you are, there’s not much you can do when a helium balloon escapes your grasp. And where does it end up? According to the Sunshine Coast Council, “Research has shown that helium filled balloons may travel up to 600 kilometres before reaching our coastal waterways. Marine species confuse balloons with prey or ingest them when feeding on other organisms. This debris then creates a blockage in the digestive system which can cause a slow, painful death.” Not exactly party material,  is it?

So what can you do?

  1. Say no to free helium balloons at festivals and events. You may have to explain the issues to your child and then distract them with something sweet or furry.
  2. Choose another way to mark a momentous event than releasing balloons. How about flying a  kite? Or throwing flower petals, or planting a tree?
  3. Dispose of any balloons you receive or use, and always pick up the colourful scraps of balloons you see on the beach.
  4. Support Keep Australia Beautiful’s campaign to have helium-filled balloons banned in Queensland by signing this petition.

Are you a balloon fan? Will this information change your mind? My three-year-old is going to hate me for this!!

photo credit: Lucia Whittaker via photopin cc

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