Have you ever wondered what happens to the gas balloons, which we used to release in the sky, writing the names of our crush in our adolescence? Well, it surely did not land on the circuits of our crush but instead travelled several thousand miles polluting the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem.
Animals, especially fishes and birds, misunderstand these balloon spillovers as a possible food source, and the situation deteriorates in cases where there is a release of mass balloons (popular at many weddings or graduation ceremony).
An elementary school located in Derby (England) had once released 300 helium balloons as a part of their elementary school project. The debris of these balloons was discovered in Australia, which is approximately 10,545 miles away from England.
On an additional note, to commemorate the first birthday celebration of a kid in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the family released a single balloon, which was later found at Pine Knob, Kentucky (almost 430 miles apart from the source-destination).
Of course, these are not new happenings. Every day we release thousands of balloons and balloon ribbons, which untimely land on our ecosystem eventually highlighting the incredible fact that “whatever goes around, always comes around.”
The plastic and the elastomer sheets induce various direct and indirect consequences on the livestock, wildlife, and habitat distribution. With the Alliance of the Great Lakes reporting 3604 balloons on Lake Michigan and 7196 balloons across the great lakes, it’s high time that we start to reduce the usages of gas balloons for any celebratory event.
The report abstracted from the 2016 World Economic Forum claims that considering the recent trends of pollution, by 2050, there shall be more plastic debris than fishes in the aquatic biome. Furthermore, considering the terrestrial habitat, these balloons can be a potential threat to the sea turtles.
Jellyfish is one of the acute preys of the sea turtles, accurately mimics the morphology of the balloons’ waste. Thus very often, we find sea turtles digest the balloons thinking it to be its food – eventually blocking its digestive tract and respiratory channel.
Continuing on this narration, a report from 2019 revealed that this debris is the deadliest form of the marine plastics for seabirds since they look exactly similar to squids/jellyfish when viewing from an aerial perspective. Seabirds that swallow balloon sheds are thirty-two times more likely to collapse as compared to swallowing the conventional plastic pollutant.
As the transience of the environment is gradually sloping down, the world is looking forward to framing several laws to prevent the ill-effects of the single-use plastics, which includes balloons and its associated components.
From next time, please realise that neither hope is helium balloons nor it shall lantern into the dark sky of the night – but it shall ruin the beautiful place where you and I live.