Our ‘Don’t Inflate to Celebrate’ campaign:
I was a Voluntary Marine Warden down at Kimmeridge (for Dorset Wildlife Trust – 2004-2008), when I got when I was given the role of ‘balloon warden’. I was asked if I wanted to design a flyer/leaflet highlighting the negative impacts of balloon releases (not about sky lanterns at the time, though, as we hadn’t heard of them then and they didn’t seem that popular at the time, of course I could have just had my head buried in the sand..??)
Anyhow, leapt at the chance – did loads of research and came up with a logo.
A few years later, when I started my FdSc Marine Ecology and Conservation (at Kingston Mauward College – through Bournemouth University), I made the decision to withdraw from my volunteering with the Wildlife Trust and concentrate on my work load – academic work has always been a bit of a struggle for me – I have always preferred the practical side of things.
During my FdSc Marine Ecology and Conservation , I did a Independent Research Project – ‘Measuring the percentage of degradation of latex balloons in varying conditions’ (in fresh water, brackish water and salt water – over a course of eleven weeks – a longer period of time would have been preferred).
When I had time, I was doing frequent beach cleans, writing to organisations/charities asking them to (please) reconsider their balloon releases…and I did a couple of talks for schools and interested parties.
In 2012, We launched Don’t Inflate To Celebrate on Facebook (I had met my partner by now), setting up a page (making it ‘official’) – to share articles about the negative impacts of balloon releases, contacts of people planning on holding balloon releases (so that people could also get in touch with them; to ask them to kindly reconsider) and generally sharing educational material on the negative impacts of balloon releases..
By this time, Sky/Chinese Lanterns were becoming popular too – so we decided to add that to our campaign and approach this in the same way as the balloon part of our campaign.
The decision was made – that we needed some educational material – so we designed and printed flyers. All self-funded. It was important to us to have some hard copies (to give out at events), as well as the information we were sharing on Social Media.
The first few years (since launching on facebook) were quite tough because we were often met with opposition), but sometimes we were met with positive results – people reconsidering their balloon/sky lantern release/race.
Some people actually thanked us for getting in touch and for using considerate language (because most of us know that balloon releases are an emotive subject as they are often held in memory of someone – so of course, emotions are raw and ‘one’, who is asking *them* to reconsider, has to tread carefully).
Anyway, because of these positive results, we continued and slowly, but surely, the message about the negative impacts of aerial litter got ‘out there’ …with the additional help of Martin Dorey’s 2minutebeachclean campaign.
Roll on to 2020 and we are still going strong with our campaign and are even more determined than ever to get balloon and sky lanterns banned (with the help of our followers) – especially during this COVID-19 Lockdown where some people are choosing to praise the NHS by releasing balloons and/or sky lanterns!
In the meantime, please continue to spread the word about the negative impacts of aerial litter to everyone you know then maybe, MAYBE, we can convince this Government to ban ALL helium balloon releases and sky lanterns once and for all.