Balloon releases are harmful to the environment, wildlife, and marine animals. They litter streams, lakes, and beaches, and even balloons marketed as “eco-friendly” take a long time to disintegrate. Balloon strings also get caught around the necks of birds and they can die from consuming the balloons. Similarly, marine animals also become confused and eat balloons when they end up in the ocean. Sea turtles, dolphins, and fish often mistake balloon pieces for food and die from ingesting them. This is why Gibraltar decided to ban helium-filled balloons altogether!
Every year on September 10th, National Day, Gibraltar had a tradition of releasing 30,000 red and white balloons in honor of each person living on the territory. However, in 2016, the tradition was cancelled when they realized the impact of balloons on the environment and wildlife. Recently, Gibraltar officials decided to do even more and banned the release of gas-filled balloons entirely.
When announcing this decision, the Government of Gibraltar stated, “In this way Government wants to reiterate its commitment to clean seas, free of plastics and other non-biodegradable materials which cause so much harm to wildlife.” It’s an important decision that hopefully other governments will follow. Just because something is a tradition does not mean we should continue it if it’s harmful to the planet or creatures we share this planet with.
If you’re interested in helping wildlife, check out Wildlife Organizations Repurpose Mascara Wands to Clean Small Animals to learn how you can send your old mascara wands to wildlife rehab groups to help small animals.
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