Download and print the petition so you can collect signatures in your area! 🙂
*Petition ends in October. Signature sheets need to be returned to the address at the bottom of that page.*
By: Stan Gorton
July 7, 2016
Three women, in three different states, have banded together to combine their efforts in promoting a petition that calls on the Australian Parliament to “ban the release of any number of balloons” and “to ban the use of helium to inflate balloons.”
On the Far South Coast there have been numerous incidents of balloons washing up on beaches. In the most recent case the North Melbourne AFL balloons were found at the Narooma boardwalk – read more – while another case involved balloons flying to Bermagui all the way from Albury – read more.
Now Karen Joynes from Bermagui, New South Wales has joined with Amy Motherwell from Victoria and Lisa Hills from Western Australia after realising, over the internet, that there were many individuals, groups, scientists and local councils around Australia all aiming for the same or similar outcome.
Ms. Joynes said released balloons are known to create litter when they inevitably fall back to Earth.
“They are also known to endanger wildlife by ingestion and/or entanglement. Marine, terrestrial and avian animals, such as shearwaters, turtles, platypuses and even cows, have all been previously documented as being injured or killed by balloon debris,” she said.
“Scientists are also concerned that the helium used in filling balloons is being wasted. A rare, non-renewable gas, when taken from the Earth’s crust, it is so light it is soon lost in the atmosphere. Helium is essential for many vital medical, scientific and industrial purposes such as cooling batteries in MRI machines, and for use in quantum computers.”
Amy Motherwell, who has a current change.org petition, said it was vitals that new laws were put in place.
“As balloon releases are becoming more and more prevalent in celebrations, memorials and at charity events, it is imperative now that laws be made, nationwide, to put an end to the deliberate littering of our environment and the needless threat to our wildlife. I believe that this new petition is the way to move forward in making this a reality,” Ms Motherwell said.
Lisa Hills meanwhile runs the Boycott Balloon Fremantle Facebook page in Western Australia where some progress has been made with both the Fremantle and Cottesloe councils creating by-laws stating that balloons will not be permitted at any of their events or any events approved by them.
“The balloon industry markets balloons as being biodegradable, but this obviously takes time with some experts claiming it can take as long as four years for a balloon to degrade,” Ms Joynes said. “The evidence of this slow degradation rate can be seen in the many burst, whole or remnant balloons constantly being collected in beach clean-ups.”
And helium filled balloons are too easily accidentally released, according to the women.
“I was told by one person she lost a helium filled balloon when she opened the car door. Just one balloon will result in litter, somewhere, and poses a threat to wildlife wherever that is,” she said. “Balloons can travel very long distances on atmospheric and/or ocean currents, so it doesn’t matter where balloons are released.”
A requirement of the petition to Parliament is that it has to be of the old fashioned variety, on paper, with original signatures. Signatures are being collected from now until October and petition signature sheets can be accessed through the No Balloon Release Australia or Boycott Balloons Fremantle Facebook sites.
Also keep an eye out for Karen Joynes and fellow balloon activist Peter West out and about with the petition in the Eurobodalla and Bega Valley areas over the next few weeks.
“The balloon lobby states proudly that they break down as quickly as an oak leaf. How long does an oak leaf take to break down? How long does it take a seabird, constantly searching for food to find one and eat it?” Mr West said after finding the North Melbourne balloons last month.
“When these balloons are let go, most go high in the air and usually burst. When they burst, they form a shape resembling a squid, fall in the ocean and are eaten either by seabirds or fish. They cannot be digested and the bird or fish dies a slow death.”
He also encouraged everyone to check out www.balloonsblow.org and to think twice before using or supporting events that use helium filled balloons, biodegradable or not.