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Charities in Twitter storm over balloon releases

copyright Helen Warren
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Charities in Twitter storm over balloon releases3

IT | Kirsty Weakley | 24 May 2012

Charities are being urged to abandon balloon releases in a Twitter a campaign.

The hashtag #balloonrelease is being used by individual campaigners to pressure charities mentioning up-coming balloon releases into rethinking their plans.

It is being led by Andy Mabbett, who is a trustee and webmaster of West Midland Bird Club who says the action harms wildlife. Individuals participating in the action tweet organisations, including charities planning a balloon release, that “even biodegradable ones harm wildlife”.

Nat Bocking, a community development researcher at Suffolk Acre tweeted: “Charities must lead the way on stopping #balloonrelease each one undermines education about (the) environment.”

He told civilsociety.co.uk that the reason he was calling on charities to speak out was that many of them include having a balloon release in fundraising ideas pack. He added that people and organisations are reluctant to come out against balloon releases: “No one wants to stand up and be called the bad guy and they fear a media backlash from the likes of the Daily Mail.”

The RSPCA has said it will not endorse balloon releases.

One of the charities singled out in the last week was Pancreatic Cancer Action whose supporters released balloons in memory of people who have died from the disease.

A spokeswoman said: “It is not something we have organised but it was a very small number, less than 50, of biodegradable balloons”.

She added that although the organisation did not have a policy specifically on balloon releases, “we are aware of the issue and will be looking at it”.

The campaign caught the eye of NCVO head of policy, research and foresight, Karl Wilding who tweeted: “To be honest I didn’t realise charities still released balloons as a way of awareness and fundraising. Anachronism surely?”

 

Nat Bocking
29 Jan 2013

Michael, your assertions about harmless fragments have been thoroughly discredited. Most balloons do not break up as you say. The breakdown of the balloons in the environment takes years. Unfortunately, the evidence from the press cuttings I have of balloon releases shows that the vast majority of them still have ribbons and plastic attached. The industry is shockingly lax at advising its clients. The argument of the other poster: why not bother with something else, is so specious as to not be worth a response.

Michael
http://floatingcreations.co.uk
28 Jan 2013

A biodegradable latex ballon, filled with helium will rise to an altitude of around 5 miles before the latex become brittle due to the cold temperature at which point it explodes in to small pieces about the size of a penny.

These tiny pieces of latex, which will have been spread out over a very wide area (due to the balloon drifting while rising to the altitude of 5 miles), will then biodegrade very quickly.

Such small pieces of latex can easily pass through the digestive system of an animal.

The only real danger to wildlife and the environment is when ribbon or plastic clips are attached to the balloons.

N/a
n/a
27 Jun 2012

With regards to your article on the Twitter Storm over Balloon Releases, i believe it is VERY unfair how hard working companies & organisations are being pressured into stopping balloon released.

I feel Andy Mabbetts comments on twitter are unfair & unnecessary.

I do understand his concerns as well as other peoples, but why Balloon Releases? Careless drivers kill wildlife every day, planes kill wildlife, litter kills wildlife, so why is he showing such concern on Balloon Releases only?

We are doing our up most best to raise money for Charity's as well as other organisations, and we are continually being bombarded by tweets & pictures from the selected individuals getting us to stop this activity.

I think this is an battle they wont win, i hope organisations will continue doing Balloon Releases as they are becoming even more popular. They are something different, and exciting for the community.

These opinions & views are my own!

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