Mum's push to ban common party item in wake of plastic bag ban

WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT: First it was the plastic bag ban, then a crackdown on single-use straws – now one Gold Coast mum is on a mission to take the air out of a popular party item.

Carly Wilson, the creator of environmental documentary Rubber Jellyfish, said far too many Australians don’t realise the devastating impact helium balloons can have on our delicate marine life.

The joyous celebration of releasing balloons into the air has long bothered environmentalists, with Ms Wilson revealing that the pieces fall back to earth in the shape of jellyfish – something that can be deadly to seabirds and turtles that eat them.

The first-time filmmaker wants to see an end to the sky-high celebrations, describing industry claims that the latex balloons biodegrade as “baloney”.

Thousands of balloons are released in New Delhi to celebrate the 72nd Independence Day. Image: Getty
Carly Wilson told Sunrise when balloons break down over the ocean, they end up in a shape that resembles a jellyfish. Image: Sunrise

“There are people in the balloon industry who are trying to stop the deliberate release of balloons but there are other balloon stores and manufacturers that still recommend people do those balloon release ceremonies,” Ms Wilson told Sunrise.

“It is important to do your research and understand that they do not biodegrade in the ocean.

“I’m eight months pregnant and I want my little girl to experience the beauty of the ocean I came to love,” Ms Wilson told Sunrise.

A photo of a soaring bird with a deflated balloon trailing behind it went viral last year after it was published in a report by Clean Virginia Waterways.

A dead bird hangs from a balloon string on a power line. Image: Pam Denmon/U.S. Fish & WIldlife Service

The report addresses the “rising concern” of balloons, which also often use helium, a non-renewable resource.

Lorna O’Hara, executive director of the Balloon Council, doesn’t dispute that marine creatures might mistake balloons for jellyfish and eat them. But she says that doesn’t mean balloons are necessarily causing their deaths.

Some US states including California ban balloon releases for other reasons. Pacific Gas & Electric, which serves northern and central California, says metallic balloons caused 203 power outages in the first five months of this year, up 22 per cent from a year ago.