Green Leave - The Impact of Balloons

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The Foundation Green Leave Warns about the Environmental Impact of Balloons

The original text in Dutch language can be found at:
Posted: March 9 2015

The municipality of Amsterdam is going to forbid releasing balloons in big events (more than 100 attendees). This is a positive development and is supported by the Foundation Green Leave. The make-a-wish-balloons is also a popular ritual farewell. Unfortunately, the relatives of the deceased do not always think about the consequences.

The make-a-wish-balloons pollute the environment and can cause a disaster to the animals. The funeral directors who are members of the Foundation Green Leave are focused on advising and offering sustainable funerals.
For what takes off to the air, also has to land again somewhere. The counting on beach shows that there is an increase of the balloon remaining’s and ribbons. The amount of balloons in the North Sea has doubled in the past 7 years. This has terrible consequences for animals. They get caught up in the ribbons and the balloon remains have been found in stomachs of birds and fish. Although the rubber of the balloon itself - unlike plastic strings and valves - basically it decays, but it can take several years.

Also 'degradable' balloons can be considered an irresponsible act. There exist so-called 'biodegradable' balloons, made of natural rubber or latex. Even with this material however, it may be years before the balloon is gone. In addition, are self-breaking balloons, which at the altitude of approximately 25 kilometers in consequence of the pressure fall into small particles. However, these balloons are not justified, the small particles that enter the sea may be confused by sea animals as food.

Sky lanterns are most dangerous
Then there is the sky lantern, which is made of paper, a metal ring and a burner. This balloon creates more even more misery to the environment. There have been cases of birds caught in the frame of the balloon. In addition to that there is the risk of fire if it is landing too early. The government wishes to ban the use of balloons soon. Green Leave takes the lead: funeral directors who are connected to Green Leave, will not recommend balloons to their clients.

The city of Amsterdam prohibiting the use of balloons is an important signal.
The use of the 'ordinary' balloons to funeral directors currently not prohibited. Therefore, everyone is pleased with the decision of the Amsterdam municipality to prohibit the release of huge amount of balloons. Evert de Niet, the president of the Foundation Green Leave "It's not always easy to point out to your clients the environmental impact of a funeral. There should be of course a beautiful and dignified farewell. The step taken by the City of Amsterdam is an important signal that helps us to explain to our customers that releasing balloons at the funeral is not a responsible choice. We encourage other municipalities also to follow this example. "

The Green Leave advised alternatives
The funeral directors who are members of Green Leave are asked to advise their customers to strongly consider a less environmentally damaging alternative. The funeral service can advise their clients about alternatives, such as:
• 1. Collection . A box of memory notes.
• 2. Wish, written thought on a pressed growth paper (paper with flower seeds inside), and plants. (
• 3. Planting a tree, bush.
• 4. Blowing bubbles (With a professional device like the Bubble Machine)
• 5. Kiting (provided that the wind is sufficient)
• 6. A boat made of large leaves or (growth / edible) paper containing the last wish / petals etc.
• 7. And of course, the burning of candles, tea light candles or torches.

More information about the consequences of balloons for the environment?

About Green Leave
The Foundation aims to stimulate sustainable Green Leave funerals in the Netherlands. There has been a criteria made for sustainable funeral products- and processes, which are reviewed by the Society for Nature and Environment. Funeral Entrepreneurs participating in Green Leave able to offer customers a range of products and advice for sustainable funeral, ranging from the coffin and the urn, to catering and flowers. In addition, the participating funeral service itself to meet five core principles of Corporate Social Responsibility, and communicate about it on their website. For more information

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