Ban helium balloon and sky lantern releases in the Isle of Man

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We ask that the Isle of Man government ban the outdoor releases of balloons and sky lanterns are an act of littering and should be classified as such.

WHY: What goes up must eventually fall back down to earth and/or sea, where it can either entangle wildlife, or be ingested if certain species confuse balloons/balloon fragments for food. 

We are against any forms of litter entering the sea – either directly or indirectly – and, we do not distinguish between differing types of balloon material, the main types of which are latex (rubber) and foil (also known as mylar). Latex balloons, whilst biodegradable, may still persist in the marine environment for up to four years.

We are not against the use of balloons per se, and support their use when they are used and disposed of responsibly, but not released intentionally outdoors to add to the already significant amount of litter in the environment. We are aware of the potential for adverse economic impacts on businesses that manufacture and distribute balloons, and are not recommending that balloon products are banned, only that balloons and lanterns are classed as litter and outdoor releases made illegal under existing legislation such as the Environmental Protection Act 1990 or the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

We do not wish to prevent fundraising events or spoil people’s fun, and a number of alternative activities can still take place and be used to raise funds without the need to intentionally release balloons or sky lanterns into the atmosphere.

We do not see a problem with indoor balloon events taking place but recommend that balloons should be air filled - this would ensure that should any balloons be accidentally released, they will not rise as far or be distributed over such a large area.

We are also aware that helium gas is a limited resource and therefore recommend that balloons should always be air filled, thereby preserving limited helium supplies.

We are aware that balloons may also be used for research purposes, for example, weather balloons. We are not against the release of these, as we believe the number involved to be minimal compared to the current number of intentionally released helium filled balloons for commemorative, social or publicity events.

Our ‘Asks’

We are requesting the Isle of Man Government to recognise balloons and sky lanterns as a form of littering and ban all releases of outdoor balloons and sky lanterns

We ask local authorities to ban all outdoor releases of balloons and sky lanterns on their land 

We ask everyone to use alternative ideas to releasing balloons or sky lanterns, or to only release balloons indoors, ensuring they are air-filled .

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