In our family, we have two big times a year for birthdays, October and January. Being January 9 today, we are right in the throes of birthday celebrations.
All of the birthdays we are celebrating this month are for kids. So you guessed it, tons of balloons all over the place (that is until my 3 year old pops them all!).
Kids love balloons, it’s a fact. But there is soo much waste that comes from having a gazillion balloons blown up to decorate for their birthdays.
Also, if a balloon pops outside, good luck picking up all of the little pieces that inevitably end up embedded in the grass and trampled on over time.
The birthday season this year got me thinking about alternatives to balloons for birthday celebrations (or any occasion) so that maybe, just maybe, I can minimize the harm I am causing on the environment via birthday celebrations.
Of course, this led me on a wonderful adventure down the Google rabbit hole researching alternatives to balloons for decorating and much, much more.
I thought I would share the information I found so that you, too, can green up your celebrations throughout the year. Enjoy!
Are there biodegradable balloons?
Here’s the lowdown on biodegradable balloons:
Despite what you may have heard, latex balloons are NOT biodegradable, even if they say so on the package. According to balloonsblow.org, latex in its natural form may be biodegradable, but with the addition of the chemicals and additives needed to make a balloon, it is not.
The reality is, latex balloons that are released into the air end up in our oceans, forests, natural areas where they don’t belong. This causes pollution, destruction of animal habitats, and even death to animals that are unfortunate enough to ingest it.
So, latex is out. You might be thinking, “but Kathy, what about Mylar?”
NOPE, Mylar is not biodegradable.
Mylar balloons are made with Mylar nylon, a material developed for use with the US space program. Balloons made from Mylar are often coated with a metallic finish and are available in a variety of shapes and imprinted designs.
Mylar balloons are far less friendly to the environment — they are made from metalicized polyester, which is dirty in both production and disposal.
Can you recycle balloons?
Short answer, No.
Most municipalities do not recycle latex balloons.
Since Mylar balloons contain a layer of foil, there may be a chance that they are recyclable in your municipality.
To be on the safe side, visit your area’s recycling and garbage protocols online just to be sure.
Unfortunately, there are no good options for biodegradable or reyclable balloons. All balloon options are hazardous to the environment and the animals that live there.
So, now that balloons are out for our festive celebrations, what else can we do that kids will love and isn’t a detriment to our environment?
What can be used instead of balloons?
Luckily, the internet has us covered with a multitude of suggestions for a more eco-friendly decorating option than balloons.
alternatives to balloons for decorating
Who doesn’t like bubbles? Young and old alike can agree that bubbles are awesome and a whole lot of fun at parties and celebrations of any kind. And hey, they are the shape of balloons, so that’s something, right? Check out this recipe for an eco-friendly homemade bubble solution.
Paper is recyclable, so you can go crazy and decorate the poop out of your party! Here’s a few suggestions if you’re drawing a blank (google for more options!):
- Pom poms
Buy once and reuse them over and over again. These are a great alternative to single use items.
Plants and flowers make beautiful decorations. If you’re crafty in any way, you can get creative and make ornaments out of pinecones and flowers or whatever your creative mind can come up with.
As well, you could throw your party outside and let mother nature take care of the decorations for you!
If you get creative and/or google deep dive a bit, you will come up with some awesome, unique, inspiring, jealousy-inducing ideas that your guests will be in awe of, I am sure of it.
Balloon drop alternatives
You may have heard of, or even participated in balloon drop celebrations (think New Year’s celebrations or concerts). No doubt about it, balloon drops are impressive and fun to be a part of. However, as you may have guessed, not great for the environment as hundreds of balloons outside will undoubtedly end up in our lakes and oceans negatively affecting marine life.
So, is there an alternative to such an extravagant show like the balloon drop?
Well, you can use any of the alternatives listed above or you can try:
-lavendar seed confetti
-bird seed confetti
While none of these alternatives may be as spectacular as a balloon drop, they are unique and environmentally friendly, so you can feel good about yourself for helping the environment as well as celebrating your joyous occasion in a memorable way.
grief and memorial balloon release alternatives
Since it has been established that balloons in general are an abomination to the environment, it is prudent that we come up with alternatives for all occasions, including grief and memorial balloon releases.
What you can do instead:
-plant a memorial tree or flower
-donate to a charity
-participate in an activity your loved one enjoyed, for example a baseball game, round of golf, knitting circle, drinks at their favorite pub
Now, if you’re totally hell-bent on a balloon release and you will not be satisfied with anything less, there is something you can try that will not harm the environment.
This is something that I have not heard of until recently when I was researching balloon alternatives.
virtual balloon release
A virtual balloon release is where you release balloons online and you can track their geographical locations while they virtually ‘fly in the sky’.
Admittedly, it was tough for me to find information on companies that actually virtually launched balloons, so I don’t have a ton of information on it unfortunately.
However, if this is of interest to you, let me know in the comments below and I will certainly google deep dive virtual balloon releases for you.
For now, just know that they exist and could be an option worth exploring.
If you use balloon alternatives for your festive celebrations, let me know in the comments, even if they are already mentioned in this article. I am interested to know what you use to decorate for those special occasions.
Cheers and have an amazing day!