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Partying without plastic

We are all looking forward to a return to some sort of normality and I bet there will be some serious celebrating going on when we’re allowed. How will you decorate your party space? Most people automatically think of balloons and bunting.

Bunting, if cloth, is reusable and can be home-made from scraps. I made 200m of bunting for my daughter’s wedding a few years ago! Balloons, on the other hand, are some sort of plastic or latex and are not recyclable.

We get it. Balloons are fun and make great decorations. The release of balloons and sky lanterns can be a spectacular sight. But we hate to burst your bubble – balloons can be a big problem when they are released into the environment. Helium balloons are the worst as they can rise high into the winds and get carried far out to sea. HCC and NHDC have both banned the intentional outdoor release of balloons and sky lanterns from land or property they own or control.

So why is a latex balloon, which is made of a natural material, a problem? Marine Conservation Society Pollution Campaigns Officer Emma Cunningham answers this well, “Some people believe that because latex is natural, balloons made of it are harmless once let go. This just isn’t the case. Latex may last for up to four years in the marine environment.”

Balloon litter is not only a blight on landscapes, waterways, trees and power lines, but balloons and balloon strings can entangle, choke or kill marine life and other animals. They cause harm by entering the food chain as they are broken down by the sun and the action of water. On land they can get mixed together with grass cut for silage which is then fed to livestock, whilst plastic pollution in the oceans is affecting the ecosystems that support human life.

It is also worth mentioning that helium is a non-renewable resource which is essential for use in some medical procedures such as MRI scanners, and so avoiding helium balloons will protect future helium supplies.

For these reasons, Plastic Free Letchworth are hoping that the people of Letchworth can come up with an alternative to balloons for decorating party spaces. If you have an idea that you would like to share through Plastic Free Letchworth, let them know by emailing

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