There are many alternatives to balloon releases. To avoid unintentionally littering with balloons, you can instead have fun, celebrate, and remember with environmentally-friendly alternatives.
Let your imagination soar and who knows what creative, one-of-a-kind idea you might come up with!
Sky lanterns: (Chinese paper lanterns) are not an environmentally-friendly alternative. Leaving a fire unattended is against fire code. Sky lanterns have started huge fires, caused serious burns, and have killed animals.
Dove releases: Wildlife rehabilitators advise against the release of all domestic birds. Casualties are still common even when a professional is used. They also promote the breeding and exploitation of animals. Click here for more information.
Here are some ideas to get you started…
Plant in remembrance – A great way to honor and remember a loved one or an important issue is to bring more life to our planet. By planting a native tree, flower garden or butterfly garden you are not only giving life to that plant you are also providing shelter, resources, and clean air to all kinds of wildlife and people. This remembrance will last a very long time and you can visit your tree or flower bed as much as you want and create more life by doing so!
Flowers and trees can also be used at fundraising events as incentives to donate. They could then be planted in a public area, perhaps taking on different shapes or words, or can be taken home by participants to be planted elsewhere as a living memory. Here’s a great place to find trees: GiveTreeGifts.com. There are urns to plant as well. You can also help reforestation with memorial, celebration, or pet loss trees by visiting The Trees Remember.
Flags, banners, streamers and dancing inflatables – Many businesses are realizing the benefits of using reusable eye-catching signage. Colorful streamers, flags and banners save money and time over balloons, ribbons and helium. They are also weather resistant, save Helium, and can be reused again and again! Here are some great companies: Ribbon Streamers, Custom Made Flags, Fort Myers Banners.
Ribbon dancers – Instead of giving kids and guests balloons at parties or events, why not give them something a little more engaging? Balloons will simply sit tied up or be gone in a flash if released (not to mention harm wildlife and deplete helium resources). Ribbon dancers are beautiful and require people to move around and have fun!
A group of people spinning and twirling with a colorful long ribbon following their every move is surely a sight to see. You can even have guests make their own ribbon dancer, decorations and all!
Kites & garden spinners – Vibrant fabric that dance in the high winds or eye-catching colors spinning in the garden. Unlike balloons, kites and spinners can be enjoyed for years. Here’s a couple awesome places to find both, and more: Zephyr Kites, Lainie’s Way, Fun with Wind. Kites can be a great prize to give people who donate and can then be flown to draw attention. Here is an example of a successful group that uses kites for fundraising.
Bunting – A great way to decorate for parties and celebrations is bunting! These beautiful waves of fabric can be made at home and uniquely designed with different patterns, shapes, and colors. They are also reusable, fun to make, and are sure to light up the party! Here is a link to learn how to make your own bunting.
Pinwheels – With flashy colors fluttering in the wind, pinwheels are sure to catch many eyes. They are great for attracting attention to businesses, awareness projects, birthday parties and more! Kids can have fun making their own, find easy instructions here. Click here for printable patriotic pinwheel. Here are examples of pinwheels making a point: Pinwheels for Prevention, Pinwheels for Peace.
Tissue Paper Pompoms – For some color burst at parties or celebrations, tissue paper pompoms are spectacular! These pretty, colorful poof balls can be easily made at home and are reusable. They are also fun activities for kids to make too! Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to make your own pompoms.
Drumming – The drum has been called the heartbeat of Mother Earth. Using drums to celebrate does not create waste or cause danger to wildlife. The beat brings people together and can be used for any occasion. Here is a great example of how drumming can replace harmful celebrations.
Get flocked – A flock of pink flamingos brightens everyone’s day. Fake flamingos can be placed on the lawn of one’s choice for a donation, where they will stay for a few days before moving to the next scheduled location. They can be reused for years of flocking fun. Here is a great example.
Floating flowers – For a lot of people, the gently upward drifting of balloons gives them a sense of letting go, and at the same time thinking the balloon will eventually reach their loved one. Because remembering a loved one by potentially killing another life isn’t exactly the best feeling, there are many alternatives. Floating flowers or flower petals down a calm stream can give you the same sense of letting go. You will be able to be in nature and feel the energy of your loved one and all the life that surrounds you! Be sure to use native flowers and not to let go an excessive amount.
Wildflower seed bombs – A great way to give a gift that grows is by making your own flower seed bombs! It’s important to only use native seeds. These little pounces will spread life-giving, beautiful flowers. Learn how to make your own seed bombs here.
Jump rope for a cause – Jump roping is fun, good for your body, and a great way to get people together! Using jump ropes to bring awareness to a cause engages participants and will bring attention from others who see. Here is a cause that has been very successful using jump ropes to bring awareness and funds to a growing issue.
Environmental Fundraising – Fundraising with Earth-themed and eco-conscious products. Raise funds and keep the environment clean of wasteful plastic straws. Fundraising with glass straws or here.
Ten eco-friendly fundraising ideas – Green Child Magazine has a great post.
Birthday parties without balloons – Birthday parties can be festive & exciting without boring, wasteful balloons. Here are some great examples.
Painted rocks – A stone can be used to paint memorials or celebrations! These beautiful stones can be placed in favorite spots, under trees, in gardens, along walkways, or inside. This is great for families or anyone that wants to leave a mark by using your imagination. Please be mindful when finding rocks to paint.
Lighting candles & Luminaries – A great way to remember a loved one or welcome new life is by lighting candles. On the anniversary of the passing or the birthday of new life, everyone can light a candle and remember their loved one or wish and be filled by the light of the candle. This can be a lasting, and comforting connection between you and another life! Luminaries are beautiful at night and can be used to line sidewalks or placed in a group. Learn how to make a frosted Mason jar luminary. You can also find luminaries with designs on them here.
Blowing bubbles – Blowing bubbles is always fun; watching them bounce around towards the sky and twist with the wind. It also requires you to exhale and breathe. This is a great way to release your feelings as well and just let go. Imagine the spectacular sight of a countless number of bubbles floating away into the sky with a piece of every person that have gathered together! Here is a quick homemade recipe.
Giant bubbles – We love bubbles! And the good people at Dr. Zigs can get you started on creating your own giant bubbles. They ‘strive to be a sustainable company and are driven by strong ethical and environmental principles’. These bubbles are a sight to behold and fun for everyone. Easy-to-use wands allow anyone to blow their own. Let the breeze carry them away! The Bubble Bus is also exciting for events, celebrations, fundraisers or parties. Millions of bubbles big and small will surround everyone with joy! Make homemade bubble wands to create your own big bubbles here.
Mass Gathering – Having people come together to create a shape, word, or image can be very unifying and beautiful! This has been done to bring awareness to an issue/cause, for memorials, and celebrations. Everyone gets to participate to be a part of something bigger than themselves!
Memorials for beloved pets – Turn your pets cremations into nurturing memorials that will encourage more life. Planting native trees or wild flowers is a beautiful way to perpetuate your pets memory. You can find great alternatives here and here.
Origami Whales – Make your own pod of whales with origami whale instructions. Bring awareness to these gentle giants instead of harming them with balloons. Here is an example of how children can come together and make a difference.
Colored lights – Colored lights catch attentions during parties, holidays, and even on certain issues! It can replace a normal white light year-round at a business or be used temporarily on special days. Here is a great example of how colored lights can be used to bring awareness to an issue.
Races, walks and organized games – Engaging your audience is a key to a successful event. Fundraisers and awareness events can have racers, walkers or players donate to participate, all while attracting positive attention to the issue and having fun!
Marches – It is hard to pass by a large organized group of people and not wonder what brought them together that day. Marches are a great way to bring attention to a pressing issue or honorable individual from local people to large media networks!
Book and food drives – There are many items that can be collected by holding a drive like books, nonperishable food, art supplies, shoes, clothes, etc. All of the items gathered can be used to directly help provide to others in need and spread awareness at the same time.
Flying Wish Paper – Write your wishes on these thin pieces of paper, roll them up, light them, and watch them rise. There is very little ash left and way to get the floating effect without harming the environment. Check them out on Flying Wish Paper.
Shaved heads – This look can bring a lot of attention when a group of people are willing to shave their heads for a cause or person. This alternative is used at outreach events and memorials and can catch on fast with participants. The press is sure to pick up on the unusual look that so many people choose to wear.