How Bad Are Balloons, Really? Here Are 3 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Try

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"Balloons (even the "biodegradable" ones!) wreak havoc on the environment. Here's what you should know."

When you think about decorating for a birthday or special event, balloons may be one of the first things to come to mind. They’ve long been a party staple… but how do they affect the environment?

As much as we love the light and airy touch balloons bring to these fun gatherings, it’s important to consider their environmental impact. Before you decide to purchase a pack for your next party or partake in a balloon releasing tradition, here are some things you should know. (Plus, some eco-friendly alternatives to try instead!)

The Environmental Impact of Balloons

are balloons bad for the environment

Typical balloons are made up of latex. You may have even come across some latex balloons that are labeled as “eco-friendly” because they’re biodegradable. But while natural latex is biodegradable and recyclable, that doesn’t exactly mean it’s good for the environment.

According to the Environmental Nature Center, latex balloons can take anywhere between six months to four years to biodegrade. In the time before they completely decompose, these balloons can still wreak havoc on the ecosystems they end up in—and oftentimes, they do.

Latex balloons can take anywhere between six months to four years to biodegrade. In the time before they completely decompose, these balloons can still wreak havoc on the ecosystems they end up in—and oftentimes, they do.

Balloons can easily be mistaken as foliage and food to wildlife, especially birds and marine life. Not only can ingesting them seriously harm and even kill these animals, but they can also get tangled up and killed by the string that balloons are often tied onto.

Latex balloons aren’t the only kind that impact the environment. Mylar balloons also do some serious damage, which are the metallic, foil-like options you’ll often see on display at party supply stores. Beyond their pretty and shiny exterior, they can actually cause power outages.

According to Safe Electricity, when mylar balloons touch a power line, this can cause a surge of electricity that short circuits equipment and can lead to outages and fires.

Eco-Friendly Decoration Ideas

If these findings have you reluctant to use balloons at your upcoming event, have no fear. There are tons of ways to spruce up your space (and party) while still being eco-friendly. Here are a few alternatives to try.

1. Plants

are balloons bad for the environment

Liven up the room with living things! You can turn a plain party room into an actual enchanted forest or a tropical jungle by adding a couple plants around the room. Try using potted plants for your table centerpieces.

2. Biodegradable Confetti

We’re not talking about that plastic stuff you can purchase at the store. Make a fun DIY confetti with some leaves and a hole punch. It adds a burst of color without harming the planet.

3. Eco-Friendly Lighting

are balloons bad for the environment

Lighting can really change up the mood of your event. Try finding some eco-friendly lanterns or candles to really set the mood. You could even search for reusable glass or solar lanterns you can use at future events. as well.

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Balloons (even the "biodegradable" ones!) wreak havoc on the environment. Here's what you should know.

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