Good News for a Change: Helium Balloon Ban - Queensland, Australia
Well, it turns out that sometimes government is responsive to community concerns and scientific evidence. In an example of positive and necessary regulation being implemented, the Queensland government has implemented a ban on the release of helium balloons (EHP, 2017).
The unfortunate reality is that, while balloons symbolise celebration, joy and the recognition of special occasions, the sad reality is that these objects carry long distances, add to the plastics found in the environment, add to overall littering and result in the deaths of many animals when mistakenly taken for food and consumed (EHP, 2017).
Besides, there are many other ways to celebrate! See the positive celebration list available at the following address for more information: https://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/waste/balloon-litter.html#be_a_positive_celebrator
The call for a ban started with an online petition (QT, 2013). Within the bounds of the slow-moving machinery of government, the ban has now been finally achieved. As a result, a dramatic cut in wildlife mortality from balloons entering the food chain will be achieved. The species primarily affected are turtles, seabirds, whales, dolphins, and dugongs (Tangaroa Blue, 2017).
Figure 1. Burst balloons resemble Jellyfish. Credit: Tangaroa Blue Foundation via EHP
Another benefit is in the reduction in the waste of helium for such a trivial purpose; The gas is a limited resource, and vital in life-saving fields, particularly in medicine (The Guardian, 2012).
With so many other ways to celebrate, and the availability of balloons made from rapidly biodegradable materials, surely compliance with the ban is a small price to pay for the preservation of wondrous species like dolphins and whales.
EHP, 2017. "Balloon Litter". [Accessed: 20.01.18] https://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/waste/balloon-litter.html
QT, 2013. "Ban Helium Balloons in Queensland". [Accessed: 20.01.18] https://www.qt.com.au/news/ban-helium-balloons-in-queensland/1964533/
Tangaroa Blue Foundation, 2017. "From Source Reduction Plan to helium balloon ban" [Accessed: 20.01.18] http://www.tangaroablue.org/amdi/campaigns/61-promotional-balloons/794-from-source-reduction-plan-to-helium-balloon-ban.html
The Guardian, 2012. Khaleeli, H. "Should we ban helium balloons?" [Accessed: 20.01.18] https://www.theguardian.com/science/shortcuts/2012/dec/11/should-we-ban-helium-balloons