In the past, it was a popular practice to release helium balloons to mark an occasion. We in the trade call this action Balloon Releases.
In hindsight, this was a horrendous practice.
Whilst the latex balloons were indeed biodegradable, many releases had ribbons or strings attached.
Balloons that burst or those that just simply drift back down to earth were simply litter. And the strings became lethal to birds, entangling them and condemning them to a slow agonizing death!
And what happened to the latex fragments at sea? Do sea creatures mistake them for food and eat them?
This of course attracted unhappy reaction from environmentalists globally with many calling for a ban on balloons period! Something all balloon people should be really really concerned about.
In Malaysia, the calls for a Ban are muted.
But we as a balloon business have not been spared. We have been the subject of aggressive mail on all our social media a number of years ago.
So how have we dealt with this request as a balloon business?
- We flatly reject balloon release requests- NO! NO! we do not do it. We refuse to release balloons and we will turn down the business. We have done this for the last 10 years.
- We offer alternatives. – HOW? We suggest alternatives. We suggest a Release and Retrieve. How to do this?
- All balloons are on a string. The strings are looped.
- A long piece of string is threaded through the loops and this string is attached to the ground on one end and a stopper at the loose end.
- All balloons released fly up along the string and are released “in spirit” but are caught by the stopper. So they fly as a bunch high up in the air.
So this method satisfies the event people’s desire to “release” the balloons.
At the end of the event, the string is pulled down and the balloons can then be given to children at the event.
What happens if the clients refuse this alternative? We turn down the job politely. Walk away.
Has this happened recently? YES.
A neighbor called me in to do an event. They wanted a Balloon Release.
We offered the alternative. They refused because “the committee had already agreed on doing the Release.. It was too difficult to make an alternative case.
We declined. So we went through the motions of “how can you refuse? We don’t have time to find another balloon business to do this..”
Never mind we had never agreed to do the balloon release. BUT. They agreed on the Release and Retrieve at the last minute.
Maybe the neighbor might never give me more business. And its all small money. But standing up to a principle is worth the hassle.
We can only control what we do. And we need to do a job that allows us to feel that we did not do harm to our environment.
To read more about how harmful these latex balloons can be, read this.
So. Please! Never release your helium Balloons. When the children tire of them, please dispose the balloons like responsible adults. Thank you!