Releasing balloons and sky lanterns is a popular way to celebrate a special event, show support for a cause or say goodbye to a lost loved one. They fill the sky with light and colour and the physical release can be symbolic of letting something or someone go. It all sounds very positive. But is it?
What's wrong with balloon releases?
When we release balloons into the air, that's the last we see of them. We can't control where they go and when they come down. Some end up caught in the branches of trees, some in fields full of animals and others float around in the ocean. They are litter. Rubbish that remains in the environment for years to come, with even biodegradable ones found to last over five years.
Once in the environment, balloons can cause many problems for animals. Some of the biggest of which include animals dying from eating them or from getting tangled in the string. They can spook horses and other animals, causing them to bolt and potentially injure themselves, and sky lanterns, in particular, pose a fire risk.
Getting together to plant trees or flowers is a lovely way to remember a loved one. Not only is it good for animals and the environment, but it also creates a lasting memory that you revisit whenever you like.
A sky full of bubbles is an impressive sight, and the release of them into the environment has the symbolic nature of letting go, yet without the downsides. Bubbles pop and disappear; they don’t hang around and cause problems. It is important to check that the soap you’re using is safe for wildlife, particularly fish, if using them near water.
Painting stones is a fun way to bring people together to celebrate or commemorate. You can unleash your creative side and have a lasting memory that you can return to again and again.
For creating atmosphere and a stunning photo backdrop, you can’t go wrong with candles. You can make your own display or pathway with tea lights and jars for a celebration, or, for a memorial, ask everyone to light their own. The process of lighting a candle is an opportunity to say a few words and the area will light up in memory for your loved one.
Fly a kite
For a sky full of colour without the downsides, fly kites! It’s fun, effective, and the photos will be amazing. You could even turn it into a competition with your guests for a bit of a challenge.
Throw natural confetti
If you like getting crafty, make some natural confetti from flower petals or leaves to throw. It will look fantastic, won’t harm animals or the environment and may even become a talking point – not everyone has the patience to create their own confetti by stamping shapes out of leaves.
Make pin wheels
There is something about watching a brightly coloured pinwheel spin in the wind, it’s mesmerising. Whether you buy them or make your own out of paper, it will create quite the backdrop for your celebration, and you’ll be able to give them away as favours at the end so everyone has something to remember the day by. For a memorial, write messages of love on them, put them in the ground and take a moment to watch them spin in the wind.
Take time to clear your mind and reflect while getting creative with origami. You could make balloons, animals or any other design that fits your occasion. It’s a mindful activity that gets everyone involved, and you’ll have something to remember the day by.
Throw a seed bomb
Seed bombs are a fantastic option if you want to give something back to the planet. They are fun to throw and you’ll be able to watch the area burst into colour as the seeds grow and the wildlife arrives.
Go for a walk
…or sit and drink a cup of tea while you talk and share memories. Simple ideas like these take little planning and they use few resources. They are environmentally friendly, animalkind and they can be the perfect way to remember someone or show support for a cause.