For so many people, balloons remind them of celebrations. The small colored rubber bag filled with air often accompanies excellent memories. In short, people don’t throw a party if the balloon is missing from the party items in most cases.
But, beyond the fun that balloons bring to parties, there’s often a side not discussed. And that is the environmental impact of balloons after the fun.
In this post, we consider some of these germane questions. Are balloons recyclable? Are they biodegradable? Are they compostable? Do they have an impact on the environment? After use, how do you dispose of them? And, more interestingly, how to creatively use your used balloons.
We know you can’t wait for the gist. So, let’s get to it.
Can You Recycle Balloons?
For many environmentally conscious people, this is the first question that pops up in their mind. Is it possible to use balloons to make other products?
The truth is, not all balloons are not recyclable. Many local recycling offices would decline collecting balloons to recycle. The reason for this is simple. There appears not to be any market use or benefit for recycling balloons. Instead, recyclers prefer that you dispose of them properly.
Also, some recycling centers might have special programs for balloons, especially as it concerns disposing of them. But you have first to confirm this. Regardless, you might have some luck recycling foil balloons. Since they are plastic materials, they come in handy with recycling.
So, next time you shop for balloons, always bear in mind that they are not recyclable. For good, you should always buy only the quantity that you need.
However, there is good news. If reusing stuff in present form count as recycling, then you can say balloons are recyclable.
You can always make use of balloons more than once. You have to be careful not to knock a hole in them after each use. If you don’t know how to put your balloons to multiple services, don’t worry. We have explained that below. Continue reading to get the full details.
Are Balloons Biodegradable?
We rightly anticipated this to be your next question. If balloons are not recyclable or you can’t recycle them, so what happens? Does that mean they would all end up in landfills? If they end up in landfills, do they remain there permanently? Relax, we will answer all these questions.
Many balloons you would find up for sale these days are not of the same materials. And this goes a long way to speak to their biodegradable rate. Let’s break this down for you.
In most cases, balloons come in two different materials; the ones with latex materials and foil materials.
Latex balloons come from rubber materials. The rubber materials themselves come from the sap in a rubber tree. The implication of this is that they biodegrade with time. Although there is no real consensus on the time it takes to biodegrade, it could take more than 2 years on average.
So, in the right situation, your latex balloons should biodegrade almost totally within two years.
However, it should not be the reason to be calm about the disposal of latex balloons. Remember that two years is a long time for items to remain in the environment before they finally biodegrade. Before the total biodegrading occurs, a flood could wash them off to sea, or animals could even eat them up. If this happens, it becomes a significant concern for the environment.
So, always dispose of them properly. If possible, reserve for significant reuse.
Foil balloons, otherwise called Mylar balloons, are from nylon materials or metalized plastic materials. What this means is that they are hardly biodegradable. Since they are plastic materials, even if they will biodegrade, it can take years before they do so.
The implication of this is that they would end up littering the landfills. And since foil balloons are light, flood or even breeze could blow them away into unwanted places. Some may even end up in the ocean where aquatic life can consume them. The rest that ends up on land can end up in the belly of animals.
If foil balloons don’t end up being consumed by animals or fish, they can still harm the plants and the soil.
The result of all these is that foil balloons that end up in the wrong places could primarily harm the environment because they are not biodegradable due to their plastic materials.
It does not mean they are useless after the first use. There are many ways to reuse them. You would learn about that later in this post.
Are Balloons Compostable?
Yes, balloons are compostable. But you can’t put all balloons in your compost bin. The foil balloons cannot go into your compost bin. This is because of their plastic materials.
However, latex balloons are very safe to put in your compost bin. They will break down quickly. If you want a significant increase in speed, you can cut or shred them before putting the balloons into the compost bin. They will make a fine compost for your plant. Remember, latex balloons come from the sap of rubber trees, so don’t be afraid. Just toss them in your compost bin.
Are Balloons Bad for the Environment?
The answer to this is quite tricky. For many environmentalists, anything that is not recyclable poses some dangers to the environment. The matter is even worse if you consider that not all balloons are biodegradable. Well, let’s settle the tricky question and get ahead.
Generally, balloons are bad for the environment. Here is the reason.
Balloons have the potentials to end up in landfills and litter everywhere. More so, they have very little weight. This enables their rapid mobility into the sea or some other wrong places.
When they get to the wrong places, fish or animals consume them. They can also leach some of the chemicals used to beautify them into the sea or the environment. This could harm aquatic life or endanger plants and the soil.
Again, balloons are hardly biodegradable. For foil balloons, they are plastic materials and may take decades before they decompose. Even after this, they don’t spoil. They become micro-plastic materials in the soil. This could also harm the soil fertility level and even the plants.
For latex balloons, they biodegrade. The problem, however, is that this does not occur within days or even months. Averagely, it takes two years for latex balloons to biodegrade in the right condition.
Before this happens, they continuously pose a danger to the environment. They could end up in the sea due to floods washing them away. Animals could eat them too.
The bottom line is that, though latex balloons are eventually biodegradable, they can harm the environment before this happens.
So, as to whether balloons are bad for the environment, they are potentially bad for the environment. But you can limit the harm they cause to the ground by properly disposing of them or reusing them.
Are There Any Environmentally Friendly Balloons?
The two types of balloons in town are not environmentally friendly. This, however, does not mean you should abandon them. You should always remember the fun and glamour they add to your parties each time you use them.
What we would say is simple. If you must choose between the latex balloons and the foil balloons, we advise you to pick the latex balloons. The reason for this is in the biodegradable rate of the latex balloons.
Please, remember that foil balloons are plastic materials filled with helium. They would necessarily take a longer time to biodegrade and harm the environment before this occurs.
The latex balloons, however, are better at decomposing. They take two years on average. But they will eventually biodegrade. You can also reuse them, the same way you can reuse the foil balloons.
So, between these two balloons, the latex balloons are still more environmentally friendly balloons. It would be best if you always went for them when making a choice.
How Do You Properly Dispose of Balloons? (Safe Ways to Dispose of Balloons)
It is essential that you properly dispose of your balloons when the party is over. In most cases, not all balloons would be reusable. Some already have holes in them, while others are not just safe to reuse.
So, here is how. Gather the disposable balloons and keep them in a bag. Preferably, paper bags. You can also put them in a polythene bag. Once the bag is filled up, you should seal or tie it.
After this, you can take the bag to the waste bin outside. Always make sure your waste bin is not hidden or in a place that would be difficult to reach. This is to allow easy mobility of the waste carriers when they come for it.
What Do You Do with Used Balloons?
This is the part you have been anticipating. You can hardly exhaust creativity when it comes to reusing balloons.
However, if you plan on reusing your balloons for parties, there is one thing to note. And that is that you should be careful not to puncture your balloons. Whether filling them with helium or air, make sure you don’t bring a sharp object close to them.
After the celebration, you can untie them and deflate them of the helium or air. Then, properly pack them in a bag. Keep them and reuse them later.
If you need to put them into more creative use, you can still do that. Let’s show you how.
1. Party Confetti
If you have a lot of colored balloons, you can reuse them to make party confetti. What you have to do is cut them into tiny pieces. The good thing is that you can toss them in the compost bin after the party if you are using latex balloons. However, you should be careful if you have children or pets around. Keep the balloons away from so they don’t eat it.
You can make drawings on your used balloons. After this, you can inflate them and watch your funny drawing pop up. This is good for your kids to play around with. However, be careful so that you don’t puncture the balloon when drawing.
3. Gift Wraps
This is good if you have a foil balloon. All you need to do is cut it open and wrap your gifts with it. It makes a good gift wrap because of the decoration on it.
4. First Aid Use
You’ll most likely be surprised, but your used balloons are great for first aid application. Precisely, you can use them to tie a limb and stop blood flow. Even more, you can use them as gloves when you need to treat a wound.
5. Waterproof Devices
Guess what, water can’t get into your balloons. And this is what makes them a great choice as a waterproof device.
So, if you need to swim or visit the beach, you can always place your valuables inside to prevent them from getting wet. For instance, you could place your mobile phone, wallet, and even medication inside as you place them in your pocket. However, remember not to add any sharp object that’ll make a hole.
6. Slip-Resistant Glasses
Balloons can also help ensure that your drinking glasses are less likely to slip from your hand. All you need to do is insert the balloon into the glass after cutting its bottom. You can then fit it so that it can either stay at your glass base or around the upper part of the glass.
Making a conscious effort about the environmental impact of your balloons will not make your events less boring. After partying hard all through the day or night, don’t forget to check all the boxes that would make your environment safer.
You mustn’t lose your party’s vibe, but it is okay if your balloons’ use is environmentally friendly. Spread the word to your loved ones also. Let’s all be conscious of the environment. It’s our only safe place.