The National Weather Service releases 50,000 five foot diameter weather balloons each year.Outdoor Balloon Releases
You will need 4 pieces 4 feet x 3.5 feet (sides of box), and 2 pieces 4 feet x 2 feet (cover) My finished box is 4' wide x 4' wide x 3.5' tall (this is for those petite brides who want to be seen over the box, instead of just their head looking over the top).
Using white duct tape or velcro, create hinges for the sides and place cover on top of box, I find that pins are not sturdy enough to hold everything together. I run #40 satin ribbon (in coordinating colors) up the sides of the box and along the cover's seam to hide it, then I add a large bow on top. Be sure that you can open the box easily (do not tie or tape the box shut with the ribbon) and add 2 small tabs of tape or some sort of handle so the cover can be lifted easily. Dont worry about the balloons' lift, the weight of 1/2" foamboard is plenty to keep the balloons in. At this point I usually put the box in the back of my van.
Just before I go to the site, or if I choose to blow the balloons onsite (around the corner from the church), I pull the box just a little bit out of the back of the van and start filling the balloons and adding them to the box from underneath (notice we never did put a bottom on the box). When the box is full, we carefully pull the box the rest of the way out of the van and place it. I usually will place this Gift in front of the church only when everyone is in and the doors have been closed, that way it is a suprise when everyone comes out. Usually the bride and groom are out first, they will stand behind the box facing the church as the friends and family come out. They wait until everyone is gathered around then each of them grabs a tab and lifts the cover up and all the way over and the balloons fly out. Once everyone has gone to the reception, we will take our box back, break it down and store it away.
If I can get the colors I need in 9", then I can fit 100 into the box (fully inflated). If I need to go to 11" I will be able to get approx 75 in the box (inflated to 10.5 inches).
A. Only if it is very windy do balloons escape, but because the balloons want to rise, they tend to stay in the box as we are placing it. We try to drive the back of the van as close to the final placement site as possible, that way we only have to pull the box straight out of the van and down 2 feet.
A. The 1/2 " foamboard is much more rigid than normal foamboard, and the edge of the box keeps it from falling in too. The balloons being stuffed into the top also helps. Also the weight of 1/2" board helps in windy situations
A. I use 2 sides that are permanantly hinged with white duct tape and open them out to 90 degrees. Then I stand up the second set of sides and tape them. For storage, each of these pair of sides is flipped all the way around (almost inside out), so you end up with flat pieces. Everything is attached with white duct tape and I keep the board white so it all blends. I peel the tape off each time and re-tape when necessary being careful not to peel away too much of the paper on the board. The ribbon and bow is what will coordinate with the balloon and dress color scheme.
A. There are two photos of a gift box in the section on Classic Round Balloon Decor Sculptures:
I have also written several very nice letters to the company directly, and asked them to pull the incorrect information off of their web site. My first letter was greeted with a thinly veiled "up yours," and my subsequent letters have been ignored.
It is very sad to me that one industry feels it necessary to give themselves a leg up by denigrating another industry - especially when they resort to misinformation and outright lies in order to do it. I hope that everyone will go to see that web site, and that you all send in your own comments.
I order a coloring book called "A Lesson in Latex" from Balloon City USA. It tells the world a less jaded side of the story on the environment and balloons... More sea life dies from the plastic rings that hold a six pack of soda together in one month then sea life killed from balloon ingestion since day one of balloons! I take a few of these coloring books and some 260's and my portfolios and have a ball!! If you have never seen this childrens coloring book... call 1-800-B-Helium and ask for Debbie.
For the past 3 weeks Sydney has had a female Southern Right Whale frollicking in our harbour. On TV every night. On radio's "Daily Whale Watch" immediately after the traffic reports. While all the other whales are traveling up our coastline on their annual northern migration, this young lady has decided she likes showing off and breaching among the harbour pleasure craft. We are truely blessed by her presence.
Two days before the big football game the balloon company was told that the release was withdrawn from the entertainment program. One of the football clubs contacted the government's Environment Protection Agency and suggested as a "measure of good will" they would cancel the balloon release because it could have a damaging effect on our visiting whale and other sea creatures. The fact was, they were avoiding negative publicity being directed towards them. Indeed, they assured themselves of earning brownie points from the public AND the government. They did their homework! The story made page 2 of the country's largest selling newspaper. Who looked bad? The people who release balloons into the atmosphere!
I feel for the balloonie! A personal friend and a colleague, I know he worked hard on this project. But like it or not whether balloons have not been proved to harm sea creatures, writing letters AFTER the negative publicity has not helped the balloon industry one ounce! Environmental policies and departments are a political wing. My personal opinion is that any balloon pro who ignores or challenges environmental issues, who promote mass releases of balloons and draws attention to this wonderful (and basically harmless) spectacle, is running a huge commercial risk and drawing negative publicity to our industry as a whole.
For those of you who disagree with me (I'm sure there are many), please, at least put the environmental issues on your checklist when doing your homework PRIOR to your submission to the client. Raise the issue beforehand! Be pro-active! Put all the cards on the table BEFORE the big day. Being in the business of balloons, and ignoring environmental issues, won't make them disappear. I hate to see anyone lose money or have to go to the trouble of enforcing contract clauses to get paid due compensation. Prevention has always been better than cure.
Dear List Members,
In Australia, the annual AFL (Australian Football League) Grand Final has chosen not to release helium balloons this year for the first time in decades, reportedly under pressure from local environmental groups. As this is almost the equivalent of not singing "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl, many fans are understandably upset. One jokingly suggested painting 50,000 doves in team colours and releasing them instead.
Our understanding is that our local environmental group's objective is to influence the Olympic Committee into not using helium balloons at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. The New South Wales EPA's (Environmental Protection Authority) litter laws prohibit anything from entering the waterway system on the Sydney Harbour, and recently prevented the balloon decorating of boats for the traditional highly publicised ferry-boat race, unless they were air inflated and tied on with nets. Damage to aquatic sea life is their main concern, despite our "earth friendly biodegradable natural latex balloons" stance.
If the Olympic Games push becomes a reality, it has implications for the balloon industry world-wide.
I am aware that legislation exists in the USA regarding each helium balloon having an attached weight, and this is not yet the case here. Our goal however is to prevent the Australian Government from legislating against balloon releases or the use of helium balloons by proving that our industry is responsible and capable of self-governing its Australian (BASA) balloon association members.
BASA has, like the UK Balloon association counterparts (NABAS), issued industrial guidelines to balloon releases for members and non-professionals who do balloon releases. The UK Marine Protection Society admit there is little or no evidence on aquatic damage, but they remain steadfastly against releases.
Both associations wish to imply that: if releases are carried out properly by professionals, then they are OK (or at least they're acceptable because very few land because they shatter into minuscule pieces in the upper atmosphere. Scientific evidence by Burchette in 1989 found a balloon released goes to about 5 miles and then shatters into minuscule pieces and comes to earth at a rate of about every 5 square miles. It has also been proved that turtles, even if they do eat the balloon, pass through the food chain without harm.
In England, a 500,000 release for a cancer charity is currently being attacked. NABAS argues that, if organized properly and with care (using NO valves or clips and using recycled paper, etc,) the damage they do is minuscule compared with the good they do... raise half million pounds for human cancer sufferers (interestingly, the argument is between two opposing charities!).
Last month HM the Queen released 2000 balloons to proclaim her vehicle fleet going over to environmentaly friendly LPG gas - her staff researched the issues and were quite happy. During the World Record release of 1.5 million balloons by The Kite and Balloon Company in the UK, Walt Disney put a team of lawyers on to it - they were happy. And one of the most prolific users of balloons there was Green Peace!
Despite lobbying from environmentalists, the House of Lords saw fit NOT to ban balloon releases after considering the evidence available to it when their Environment Bill was passed.
Our wish is to give evidence to the EPA that our industry IS responsible and no formal legislation is necessary. We'd like to present evidence that other countries and Associations have likewise been responsible on environmental issues. Can you help us with any "good" press or success stories your associations have had? I can be contacted privately on email@example.com
Faxed copies of any press releases would also help our cause greatly. Our fax number is (country code) +61 3 9870 4511
Would appreciate your help, and thank you in advance. Regards, Alan Perkins - PREMIER BALLOONS (firstname.lastname@example.org)
While balloons are known to be an environmentally sound industry in their growth, harvest and production, it is amazing to me why The Balloon Council and Pioneer want to continue to shoot themselves in the foot for the continued endorsement of balloon releases.
To quote Mr Dixon: "There are biodegradable strings. But, until they completely decompose, they can pose a potential problem to birds and marine life. Not to mention the "litter" tangled up in power lines. So, the golden rule NO STRINGS ATTACHED when releasing balloons into the atmosphere."
What is the difference? Are you saying that until a balloon decomposes that it does not pose any potential problem to any wildlife? Why is a latex balloon any different from cotton string? (please, no parroting decompose statistics).
Here is an undeniable fact: Although hand tied latex balloons are 100% biodegradable, they are still litter and do pose a potential threat to marine animals, seabirds and land animals. This cannot be disputed. As far as the incorrect bleating of some (including The Balloon Council) as to the lack of documented incidents regarding latex balloons doing wildlife damage -sorry- but there does exist direct evidence of latex balloons being ingested by marine animals. This argument though, is as ludicrous as it is irresponsible. To try and cite the lack of "incidents" to justify illegal littering for the sake of profit is as unethical as it is direct denial.
To analogize this point, I can't justify throwing my paper cup into the ocean just because "it is biodegradable". There is also quite a difference, to the public, between a private citizen releasing a memorial balloon and a balloon company releasing them for profit. In the end, anyway, they both are still illegal litter.
It is very clear that the environmental movement is becoming ingrained for good around the world. It has also become clear that more and more private citizens are becoming aware of the potential damage of irresponsible balloon practices and are (and will continue) speaking out with words and actions.
If anything, you might hope the balloon industry, especially manufacturers and their "councils," might try to look beyond the short term profit and look to the long term damage to the industry and the perception of the public if the continued endorsement of balloon releases is allowed to go on.
My intent is not to ridicule your profession. You bring great joy to many people and I do not wish to belittle you. I will not dispute a balloon's effect on marine life at this time, but there are still a number of flaws in your argument... you stated that these balloons degrade much like oak leaves. I am very familiar with composting and oak leaves are a hearty leaf. They can take a very long time to degrade. You are paid to purchase, fill and release hundreds, maybe thousands of these balloons at a time. Where they land is not your concern. Almost always, it's on someone else's property. Now, others must put up with or take responsibility for your garbage. Americans have earned many well deserved freedoms, but there is one very important disclaimer. Your rights end where my rights begin. The bottom line for me on the balloon-releasing issue has always been one of litter. Litter is illegal in all 50 United States. It doesn't matter whether or not the litter is biodegradable -- it's still illegal. Further, many balloons *are* released with ribbons attached. I picked one up in Yosemite Valley just this past Sunday (the National Park Service naturalist with whom I was hiking can verify this if necessary). The balloon was torn, but most of it was there and there was a ribbon attached. Litter is unacceptable, in any shape or form. Regarding wildlife, a California Clapper Rail (endangered) drowned in the pickleweed at the Palo Alto Baylands a few years ago. The Rail became tangled in the ribbon of a balloon released by a science class in San Jose, CA (the student's name & school name was on the balloon). When the tide came in the Rail drowned. But again, litter is illegal. It's not anymore complicated than that. Why do political parties (republicans, democrats and others) release balloons in celebration? Why does anyone do this? What is so hard to understand about litter being illegal?
Now step back a minute, take a deep breath, forget that you make a living from balloons, and read the above letter again, slowly. Go dig out your Balloon Council literature and thoroughly read it too. Then answer the questions posed in *the above* letter; don't just rattle off your standard answers.
Yes, balloon professionals NEVER release their biodegradable balloons with ribbons attached, but "Balloon professionals" are NEVER mentioned in the letter. This particular letter is not about "accidental vs intentional" releases, it is about the consequences of released balloons. Can anybody honestly say that they NEVER had a "biodegradable balloon with ribbon attached" get away from them? Come on... :-) You'll get the same littering ticket whether your Big Mac wrapper blows out the car window, or is thrown out. Besides, no one needs a special license to buy a bag of balloons nor a roll of ribbon.
Litter is an obvious problem but balloon litter is practically non-existent. Why would any sane person who has found thousands of plastic drink bottles, cigararette butts, candy wrappers, drink cans, fast food wrappers, tires, car parts, and miles of fishing line littering the country side, BUT ONLY ONE BALLOON, decide to wage war on the balloon industry? It's certainly NOT because they want to decrease the amount of litter in our environment or they would go after the big offenders. Yes, fishermen frequently discard plastic monofilament fishing line along the river bank. There are thousands of plastic drink bottles and cellophane candy wrappers along mountain trails.
But an answer that rationalizes littering is not going to change anyone's mind, especially that of an environmentalist. This is exactly like saying:
But Maaaaaoooommmmmm, everybody's doing it!When what really needs to be said is:
Yes, you are absolutely correct; littering is illegal. The balloon industry is committed to educating retailers and consumers about "good balloon practices," to minimize the extent of balloon related litter and its consequences.You can tell an environmentalist that balloon related litter is not a significant source of litter, and that their efforts would be better spent in setting up a community recycling program for paper, glass, plastic, etc., or organize a clean-up drive, but you can't rationalize littering! When someone states that "It doesn't matter whether or not the litter is biodegradable -- it's still illegal." they really do have a point! I live one block away from a McDonalds, and every morning and every afternoon I pick up McDonalds cups, straws, bags, napkins, wrappers, etc. from my lawn. I hate doing it, and I agree; litter sucks! You are not going to convince me that it would somehow be acceptable if people instead threw their half-eaten but biodegradeable hamburgers, fries and strawberry shakes on my lawn.
Personally, I don't care how many balloons you release. But if you are going to try and convince an environmentalist that you should be allowed to release balloons, you won't get very far with these arguments. To sway an environmentalist, you have to think like one, not like a balloon professional.
At issue is what was initially posted:
You are paid to purchase, fill and release hundreds, maybe thousands of these balloons at a time. Where they land is not your concern. Almost always, it's on someone else's property. Now, other's must put up with or take responsibility for your garbage. Americans have earned many well deserved freedoms, but there is one very important disclaimer. Your rights end where my rights begin.and the subsequent post that said:
The bottom line for me on the balloon-releasing issue has always been one of litter. Litter is illegal is all 50 United States. It doesn't matter whether or not the litter is biodegradable -- it's still illegal.... Litter is unacceptable, in any shape or form.... Further, many balloons *are* released with ribbons attached.... litter is illegal. It's not anymore complicated than that. What is so hard to understand about litter being illegal???Again - I personally don't care how many balloons you release. But this is a very legitimate question, and I have not yet heard a satisfying answer.
To the person asking the question, the presence/absence of ribbon doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter whether 1 or 10,000 balloons are released. It doesn't matter whether it's done by a "balloon professional," or a science class, or at a party. That's not the point here.
To the average (non-balloon professional) person, his question sounds like this:
what would you think if I came to your neighborhood with a stack of old newspapers and did a "newspaper release" ? They're biodegradeable, and don't have ribbons attached. Heck, they're made from trees and even printed with soy-based ink... how "green" can you get?If you can't think of a good answer now, you certainly won't be able to do so when you're in front of a camera, manned by a news crew looking for a sound bite.
Here's something else to consider: I'm sure there are plenty of balloon professionals who won't do balloon releases. What happens when that news crew finds them? How will the balloon industry handle that?
Maybe the balloon industry should come up with a better answer than the Balloon Council's answer of "balloon litter is not significant." If you can rationalize small amounts of littering, I can rationalize large amounts of littering. Then heck, compared to the quantity of oil transported all over the world every year, I can even rationalize the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
The Guide to Balloons and Ballooning mentions this in the Health chapter:
...And if you do care about the environment, take a moment to make sure the balloon animals you make aren't turning into litter, and if you are that sort, comment on the same to the little ones, and their parents. You could, actually end up doing our mother earth some good.and from the Crowd Control chapter:
Your area should look neat. When your balloons start to pop, don't forget to pick up the pieces (the "clown droppings"). If kids have no money but want balloons, have them earn their balloon by cleaning up your area.In a twisting class at IBAC, it was also stressed that you should carry a garbage bag and not throw your balloon pieces on the ground, that you should keep your area clean while twisting, and that you shuld leave it as clean as you found it.
It looks to me like you've got one segment of the industry releasing balloons and saying that balloon litter is all right, and another segment of the industry saying that balloon professionals should be clean and not litter.
Again - I personally don't care how many balloons you release. I fully understand that everything we do involves trade-offs between useful products and waste products. For instance, nuclear waste or air pollution is part of the price we pay for electrical power. However, don't rationalize littering because you can't come up with a socially redeeming value for balloon releases. Until you can, you'd get more respect from me if you were honest and said "For the momentary enjoyment of a few people, I am getting paid to litter these balloons all over the state, and I'm going to do it regardless of what you think."
Either that, or call it art. :-)
I take a great interest in the environment we work in, the environment we live in, how our customers relate to each of them, and how to "dovetail" it all together. I enjoy the challenge of searching for a win/win for all concerned on this delicate topic. Part of the problem is that balloon pros aren't pro-active enough in conveying their message to the public and also their customers.
Anyway, I 've been helping put together 8 short scripts for our telephone system that customers hear if, and when, placed "on hold". Bingo! All of a sudden I realized it was the ideal place and way to promote her company's environment policy. I've copied that script below for others who may have the "message-on-hold" facility and wish to use it. It's up to every one of us to be pro-actve on this issue and by doing so, greatly reduce negative and often misinformed press.
Please advise all your friends and relatves that our latex balloons are 100% biodegradable. Latex is a natural product drawn from rubber trees and rubber tree plantations are helping to green our planet. We advocate that no plastics or other non biodegradable products should ever be released into the atmosphere. So, please respect our environment, and for health reasons - NEVER inhale helium.
A professional Balloon Decorator should be concerned at all times about the safety and earth-friendly issues. He/she has a responsibility to themselves, their industry and the planet to be careful what products they use to create the magic they do.
It may be different today but then it was estimated that less than one percent of balloons manufactured were used in releases. Being a lover of nature I found myself understanding (although not agreeing with) their uneducated passion already. As a businessman it made obvious sense that if less than one percent of the profit is generated by an area that causes 99% of the bad press why throw it in their face.
There was a decrease in all balloon sales during that time. Do the math. Obviously this is easy for me to say. What about those who make a living doing only releases? First you may want to think about bringing your wonderful talents to the rest of the 99% of the Balloon Universe of Opportunity. Education is paramount, truth about balloons and the environment, releasing without strings whenever possible, etc.
I have no idea how the balloon release panic attack rolled around the world. I recall the first incident in LA bringing an unknown issue to light. Those of you may recall the problem was electrical and pre-environmental. (a problem specific to non insulated wires) Since then the cycle and experience in the US has been educational in itself. It would make a great study for those who are not so aware of the potential for damage.
As always the overwhelming value, beauty, and fantasia of balloons prevail. I was most concerned then and now for those children who focus on the negative and miss the experience and wonder of balloons. I see how my children marvel at balloons.
I will say it is inspiring to see the responsible and professional manner to which you are dealing with this and other necessaries. This industry and the players have certainly aged finely and with group wisdom.