The other day I was driving by Kam III beach on Maui. There was a large family birthday gathering with a bouncy castle, tables of food and balloons straining at their ribbons. It reminding me of parties with my own kids when they were young, and I smiled.
Until one red balloon escaped its restraints and gently floated skyward.
As environmentally aware as we are in Hawaii, use of balloons for celebrations and floating lanterns for memorials are commonplace (note sky lanterns are illegal in Hawaii and 29 other states).
So what happens to these latex bags, bamboo floating lanterns and other decor like plastic confetti in the ocean? Turns out these joyful symbols can hang around in the atmosphere for decades. They never biodegrade, and ultimately add to our microplastic dilemma, harming marine life, birds and other wildlife.
But never fear, the party will go on. Meagan Denny, writing in the PADI blog, has come up with wonderful a list of alternatives to balloon, confetti or lanterns to jazz up your next gathering.
Blow Some Bubbles!
“Divers love blowing bubbles underwater, and it’s just as fun topside. Bubbles are cheaper than balloons, better for the environment, and just as fun and floaty. You can even “go big” with giant bubbles. Here’s a recipe for a bubble solution made with eco-friendly dish soap.
Instead of plastic confetti, throw something natural like birdseed, flower petals or dried autumn leaves. At a wedding, picturesque ribbon wands or small tinkling bells are a fun alternative (and a nice wedding favor for guests).
Flying Wish Paper
Write your wishes on this special paper, light it on fire and watch it fly up and burn away. Enjoy the floating light effect of a wish lantern without the fire hazard.
Luminarias or reusable luminaries
Luminarias made from paper bags and tea candles create a beautiful ambiance of flickering fire, as do reusable mason jars with solar lights.
Invite party guests to help create a pod of origami whales. It’s easier than you may think, just watch this video.
Plant a tree or flowers
Planting a tree creates a symbolic, long-lasting and eco-friendly memorial that honors your loved one and the earth. A painted rock left in a favorite place is an eco-friendly option for people without a place to plant.
The ideas above are just a few ways to enhance a wedding, memorial, or other event without creating an environmental hazard. Help us spread the word about these environmentally-friendly alternatives, and let us know about other ways you like to celebrate!”
Learn more about what you can do to help protect the ocean environment on our conservation page.