Most of us wouldn’t just drop something on the ground – littering is anti-social and an offence. But how many people let go of a balloon, watch it float away into the sky and not give a second thought as to where it will end up.
It might be on land or it might be in the sea, but either way it will be a hazard to wildlife. It could be eaten and block a creature’s digestive system, causing it to starve. The ribbon might get wrapped around a bird’s neck, trapping or strangling it; a slow and sad death. Turtles are particularly at risk as they mistake them for jelly fish and swallow them, but even whales have been found dead after ingesting balloons.
Someone enjoyed a MacDonald’s Happy Meal. Their balloon ended up by the sea at Lee-over-Sands near Clacton. It wouldn’t have been such a happy meal for any creature that ate it.
This party balloon landed by the River Thames. Had I not taken it home it might have been blown into the water and carried out to sea. A turtle could have thought it was a tasty jelly fish. It could have been the turtle’s final meal.
This one was on the sea wall between Peter-on-the-Wall and Burnham-on-Crouch, possibly the most remote stretch of coastline in England – there are no houses for 14 miles of coast but falling balloons litter our most pristine places.
Some balloons are described as biodegradable latex. Biodegradable is a vague term. Yes natural rubber will break down but it may take many years. Don’t fall for the marketing that suggests these are safe.
I’m all for supporting England but not with a balloon that lands on a nature reserve – here at RSPB Rainham Marshes.
But please don’t use Chinese lanterns instead – not only are they litter – they are fire too. Fires have been started animals burned by falling lanterns.