Thursday, October 13, 2011

Should Know Better

Back in January 2009 I posted "Don't Let Go" on mass Balloon releases. Those released balloons don’t stay up there, they float away and eventually fall to ground, river, sea or ocean, sometimes in bits after bursting and therein lies the problem. To be blunt, Balloons Kill Wildlife. They think its food and swallow it. It then blocks their digestive tract and they die of starvation.

So I was not pleased to learn that there is to be a mass balloon release this coming Saturday, 15th October 2011, at Sainsburys in Newbury Park. It is a charity event in aid of Wellgate Community Farm which is just outside Redbridge in that bit of Barking & Dagenham that separates us from Havering. A very worthy cause as you can see from their website – but they really ought to know better. The animals on the farm, which will be at the event at Sainsburys on Saturday, are not wild but they could still be affected. I rang them to ask. The balloons are bio-degradeable was the reply. But that’s not the point. They don’t bio-degrade in an animal or bird's gullet, and it takes at least a couple of years in my compost heap, such to the point that “bio-degradeable wrappings” no longer go in there.

I’ll forgive Wellgate Community Farm, for now, but I’m not at all happy with Sainsburys. In fact I think I will ask Redbridge Council to prosecute them for littering as test case. The balloons themselves may not be defined as "litter" but what about the string attached to it?

Balloons and the Law

It is illegal to litter under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990, with fines of up to £2,500 for each offence. Under this act it is an offence to drop “or otherwise deposit” litter in a public place and therefore releasing balloons should be viewed as an offence under this Act. However, released balloons are not currently defined as litter. In recognition of the threat posed to wildlife by balloons, mass balloon releases have been banned by several UK local authorities including South Hams District Council, Oxfordshire County Council and Shetland Islands Council.


  1. Go for it. Sainsbury's should know better. The firm makes out it's eco-friendly. Killing wildlife with balloons isn't my idea of being eco-friendly.

  2. They really should know better - bio degradable is great, but doesn't exactly solve this problem.

  3. Thank you for notifying MCS of the balloon release to be held by Sainsbury’s (Newbury Park) on 15th October. Unfortunately I have been on leave and we were unable to contact them until now, and sadly the event is unlikely to be cancelled at this stage.
    But we have now contacted the store, and asked if they will reconsider using balloon releases in future. We will let you know what response we receive from them.

    Many thanks for your support of the Don’t Let Go Campaign, it is very much appreciated.

    Best wishes.

    Ann Hunt
    Enquiries Officer
    Marine Conservation Society

  4. I think you are a bit mean to Sainsbury's because the article is only negative against them. They are making real efforts to help us recycle.
    I would says that most of throw away in our bins, plastic material which has been contaminated by food and cannot be put with the recycling. So, that will probably be dumped in open-air landfill and birds will die unecessarily. (I could be wrong and perhaps it's dealt with properly.)
    I also totally object to dog poo being put in small plastic bags and then dumped in hedges/allotments, verges,etc,...It's a shocking task to dispose of these for the unfortunate people who care.
    I know there are dog bins in parks. I hope the content of these is disposed off with ecology in mind.

  5. This is one of the reasons I designed a product called litter glue

  6. Blimey Anne,
    "litter glue" knew you had commented on dog poo before I had published it. Prescience? or Bonkers?