Making any occasion memorable can be very important. Although popular at weddings, releasing balloons, is not uncommon at funerals either.
The golden rule if you choose a balloon release, is to make sure you only use latex balloons, and do not attach any string or ribbon to the neck. Although some people choose not to release balloons because of environmental reasons, latex balloons by themselves, are in fact eventually 100% biodegradable being a natural product from the sap of the Haevae Brasilienis tree.
Being a totally natural product, Latex will start to degrade as soon as the balloons are inflated and gets quicker as the balloons are exposed to the light. The length of the degradation process depends on the exposure to UV light, but according to some scientific research the length of this process is approximate the same as a leaf from an oak tree under similar environmental conditions.
During a balloon release, the majority of balloons (approximately 90-95%) will rise to an altitude of approximately 5 miles. At this altitude, the balloon will either freeze and become brittle or explode due decreased air pressure and the helium expanding. This means that most balloons are reduced to pieces of natural rubber about the size of a penny which fall back to earth where they finish decomposing naturally. This does however mean that the 5-10% of balloons that do not reach this altitude, will come back to earth (or sea) intact and can potentially be harmfull to wildlife.
Below are just a few of the companies that can supply you with all the balloons you need, and the helium to fill them up.
Balloons and the Environment - Additional Information
The information below covers what the 'balloon trade' itself says about the environmental impact that balloon releases have on the environment, and the link here to the Marine Conservation Society www.mcsuk.org, takes you to a leaflet they produce covering the negative aspects. Read both before you decide if a balloon release is right for you.
* Latex balloons are made of 100% natural, biodegradable latex.
* The harvest of the sap from the rubber trees discourages de-forestation by providing an alternative income leaving the latex-producing trees intact and continuing to produce latex for up to 40 years.
* Latex balloons biodegrade in about the same time as an oak leaf.
* During a balloon release, the majority of balloons will rise to an altitude of approximately 5 miles. At the altitude, the balloon will either freeze and become brittle or explode due decreased air pressure and the helium expanding. This means that the balloon is reduced to pieces of natural rubber about the size of a penny which fall back to earth where they finish decomposing naturally.
* Studies have shown that latex balloons ingested by animals pass through the digestive system.
* Balloons should NEVER be released with anything more than a race card (if applicable). Strings, ribbon, valves, sealing discs and clips are non-biodegradable and may harm wildlife.
* Balloons should be hand-tied and released individually (NEVER tied together in bunches)
* Foil balloons and latex balloons with metallic pigment should never be released into the environment as these are not biodegradable.
* Helium gas is most commonly used to make balloons float. It is lighter than air and so will rise upwards. Helium is a non-toxic, non-flammable, inert gas that occurs naturally in the air we breathe and is also found underground.