We need a ban on balloon releases

Plastic Free Chesterfield is calling for action against balloon releases in Chesterfield, following the latest stunt on Friday 27th August commemorating 14 year old Logan Folger who jumped into the Chesterfield canal to save his friend.

The group want to stress that they fully respect the family and the life and bravery of Logan. They say what he did was truly incredible and he should be honoured and remembered for his actions. But say that a balloon release is not the right way to do this and that there are alternative ways to commemorate someone other than balloon releases.

Just like single-use plastics, animals can mistake brightly coloured balloons for food.  If eaten and ingested, balloons can lead to loss of nutrition, internal injury, starvation, and death. String or ribbon that is often found attached to balloons can cause entanglement. String can wrap around animals causing injury, illness, and suffocation.

Foil and Mylar balloons can also get tangled up in power lines, spark fires and cause power outage.

Marine Conservation Society, RSPCA, Keep Britain Tidy and the National Farmers Union share the view that balloon releases should not occur in the UK given the evidence for the harm that they cause to wildlife and the aesthetic damage to the environment. Plastic Free Chesterfield is now joining the list and calling for them to be banned. The group have written to Chesterfield Borough Council to enact a voluntary ban on releasing them on council land as well as actively promoting the dangers of them and suggesting alternatives. Plastic Free Chesterfield say that this should happen to coincide with the motion the council passed to tackle single-use plastics and plastic pollution in December 2020. Around 85 councils in the UK such as North East Derbyshire District Council and West Lindsay and South Keveston in Lincolnshire have enacted such a ban.

Greg Hewitt, Plastic Free Chesterfield Community Lead said: “Although Chesterfield is one of the furthest places away from the sea, it doesn’t give us an excuse to allow balloon releases. It’s not just marine animals that are impacted by balloon releases, and with Chesterfield being on the edge of the Peak District, many unique animals and wildlife reside here and can also mistake balloons for food. The other concern is the risk of fire spreading across the Peak District.

We fully support the bravery of Logan and what he did to give his life and we feel he should be commemorated and celebrated for his actions but this should be done in a sustainable manner.

The group have listed a number of alternative actions that could take place instead of balloon releases:

  • Drumming – music and beats are so natural to humans for celebrating and expressing ourselves. 
  • Planting in remembrance – This is a great way to actually contribute to the planet AND create a long lasting memorial of the occasion. 
  • Lighting candles – While this one might be tricky on a windy day outside, on a beautiful night, it can be comforting and amazing. 
  • Blowing bubbles – Bubbles are pretty and fun to create. The act of blowing bubbles (breathing in and out) can also be a somewhat meditative experience. It can help us to be mindful and in the “now.”

Plastic Free Chesterfield is encouraging individuals to write to their local councillors and MP to take action on this.

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