Eco-Friendly Balloon Alternatives Everyone Will Love
Balloons have been popular party decorations since they were first invented about 100 years ago. Recently, people have also used balloon releases as a way to honor someone who has passed away. However, as the reality of the harm balloons cause the environment sets in, we’ve started to look for eco-friendly alternatives to balloons.
At this point, you might be wondering: Is there actually an eco-friendly alternative to balloons? What else can you do besides a balloon release?
Fortunately, you won’t be a party pooper if you don’t use balloons for decoration, for a balloon release, or for a water balloon fight. Instead, you can check out these awesome eco-friendly alternatives to balloons and come up with some great ideas.
Are Balloons Bad for the Environment?
Before we take a look at the top eco-friendly alternatives to balloons, I think it’s important to understand why we need to make the switch in the first place.
Balloons are typically made from mylar (a type of plastic) or latex (a type of rubber). Even though latex is a natural material that will eventually break down, it can take many years before it begins to degrade. Since mylar is a type of plastic, it never properly degrades.
Whether because of intentional releases or their lightness, balloons often end up in the natural environment. Once there, they cause major problems.
Animals can get tangled and trapped in the string attached to the balloon. Many animals also mistake balloons for food and try to eat them. Once an animal accidentally consumes a balloon, it can cause internal blockages that can lead to starvation and death.
Are Biodegradable Balloons Eco-Friendly?
Biodegradable balloons aren’t as eco-friendly as manufacturers want you to believe. The problem comes from the term “biodegradable.”
Biodegradable simply means something will eventually break down, although no time frame is ever specified. This means that even plastic could technically be labeled as biodegradable even though it takes hundreds of years for it to break down.
Plus, just like conventional plastic, biodegradable plastic also creates smaller pieces of microplastics when it breaks down. Microplastics are small things causing big problems all over the world.
They have been discovered everywhere from ice in the Arctic to the deepest ocean trenches. They can absorb toxins in the environment before they’re consumed by animals.
Recently, they’ve even been discovered inside humans, and scientists have no idea what type of long-term health consequences they pose.
The Best Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Balloons
Now that you know why balloons are bad for the environment, you’re probably ready to ditch them and decorate with something better. No matter what type of celebration you’re planning, you’re sure to find something on this list that will work perfectly.
1. Banners and Bunting
Banners and bunting are some of my favorite items to use when decorating for a zero waste cookout. You can find them in just about every color and design you can possibly imagine.
You can easily create your own banners using paper that you can either compost or recycle when your celebration is over. If you know you’ll be having your party again, you can also get fabric banners that you can use again and again.
If you’re decorating for a holiday party, such as a Thanksgiving dinner, you can even use natural materials like colorful leaves to make your banners.
2. Paper Chains
The great thing about using paper chains as an eco-friendly alternative to balloons is that they’re so easy to make even kids can help put them together. Paper is recyclable and compostable, so you can easily dispose of the chains in an environmentally conscious way when you don’t need them anymore.
If you’re pressed for time, you can purchase paper strips that quickly and easily link together to make a chain. These strips also come in a variety of fun designs for every holiday.
If you decide to make your own chains, be sure to use either plant-based glue or kraft tape for effortless recycling or composting. If you use something like staples, you’ll have to pull them out before you recycle or compost the paper.
3. Pom Poms
If you’re looking for something you can use instead of a balloon arch, how about pom poms?
Pom poms come in all types of sizes and colors, so you can easily attach them to an arch just like you would balloons. You can also hang pom poms from the ceiling just like balloons!
You can easily recycle tissue paper pom poms after you remove any non-paper pieces that might be included. If you don’t want to produce any waste, or you’re looking for something you can use over and over again, you can also get fabric pom poms.
4. Paper Flowers
Paper flowers are another versatile balloon alternative. Like pom poms, you can attach paper flowers to an arch or hang them from the ceiling.
Plus, they come in just about every color, size, and shape you could possibly want for your celebration.
If you’re super crafty, you can make paper flowers yourself. However, if you’re not feeling creative, or you don’t have a lot of time, you can simply purchase paper flowers.
Pinwheels are a great choice if you’re decorating outside. When the wind starts to blow and the pinwheels begin to spin, you’ll get plenty of fun, eye-catching movement from your decorations.
The ones typically found in party supply stores are usually made with plastic. However, they’re surprisingly easy to make using colored paper and wooden sticks for zero waste decorations.
If you don’t have time to DIY, you can also find paper pinwheels online.
Fun Eco-Friendly Alternatives to a Balloon Release
Balloon releases are often ceremonial events designed to honor someone who has passed away. While the intentions are pure, the environmental harm is awful.
Balloons released into the air don’t just magically go away. They eventually have to come down somewhere. They can get tangled in power lines, wrapped around tree branches, or end up in waterways.
Rather than create even more unnecessary waste, consider one of these eco-friendly alternatives to a balloon release.
1. Flying Wish Papers
Flying wish papers are very thin sheets of paper you write a message or wish on. You then roll the paper into the shape of a tube.
Once you light the top, the heat causes the paper to fly up in the air — taking your wish or message with it. The paper stays lit for just a few seconds, and the only thing that floats back down is a few pieces of ash.
It’s important to note these are NOT the same as sky lanterns, which should also be avoided at all costs because they create excess litter and the lit candle can start devastating fires.
2. Seed Balls
I personally love the idea of using seed balls instead of a balloon release to honor a loved one. Simply hand everyone in your ceremony one of these colorful seed balls to plant.
Each ball is handmade using recycled paper and contains a blend of wildflower seeds that may include purple coneflower, white yarrow, foxglove, red prairie coneflower, snapdragon, sweet alyssum, and more.
When the flowers start growing, they’ll be a special reminder of your loved one. Plus, the wildflowers will be an important food source for bees and butterflies!
3. Plant a Tree
Planting a tree is another great way to honor the memory of a loved one and help out the environment at the same time. A tree is a special place you can visit when you feel like connecting with your loved one. They also provide an important habitat for birds, insects, and other wildlife.
Plus, if you choose one of these amazingly easy-to-grow fruit trees, you’ll get to enjoy an abundance of free, fresh, delicious fruit every year!
4. Floating Flowers
Balloon releases are popular because they often symbolize letting go. If you want to get that same feeling without harming the environment, consider sending flowers down a river or out to sea.
Since flowers are natural, you don’t have to worry about them harming wildlife or creating excess waste in our waterways.
5. Eco Confetti
Thinking of doing a balloon release at a wedding? Why not make your wedding more sustainable and toss eco confetti instead?
Rather than being made from plastic like conventional confetti, this eco confetti is made from biodegradable dried flower petals.
Just be mindful of where you toss the eco confetti. Even natural materials can clog up pipes and drains in urban water systems and create algae blooms in waterways if too much goes in at once.
If you’re looking for an even lower waste option than eco confetti, blow some bubbles. It doesn’t matter what age you are, blowing bubbles is always fun. They also look so pretty when sunlight shines on them.
Cool Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Water Balloons
Sure, cooling down with a water balloon fight is a classic summer activity. But let’s be honest, water balloons have their own drawbacks.
First, you spend a ton of time filling them up with water, only to have the fun last for just a few minutes. Then you have to go around your yard and pick up all those little bits of balloons. If you want to do it again, you have to waste money buying more balloons and then waste time filling them up again!
That’s why these eco-friendly alternatives to water balloons are a better solution and a fantastic way to have some sustainable summer fun!
1. DIY Water Sponge Bombs
These DIY water sponge bombs are what we like to use at our home instead of water balloons. In addition to being incredibly easy to make, they’re also soft enough that you don’t have to worry about anyone getting accidentally hurt.
Plus, unlike conventional water balloons, you can use these sponge water bombs over and over again. A quick dunk in a bucket of water is all you need to get them soaking wet!
2. Reusable Crochet Water Balloons
If you like the idea of sponge water bombs, but you prefer something that has a more traditional water balloon shape, you’ll love these reusable crochet water balloons.
Like the water sponge bombs, these crochet water balloons are soft, sustainable, and latex-free. Simply soak them in water and then throw them at people to get them drenched.
The crochet water balloons are also machine washable, so you can keep them clean even when your outdoor water balloon fights get a little muddy and dirty.
3. Water Blasters
If you’re trying to reduce plastic use in your home, water blasters aren’t the best option. However, I included them on this list because they’re another option you can use again and again during your water battles.
You can even get something like this water blaster made from recycled plastic bottles.
Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Balloons for Every Occasion
Balloons might seem happy and cheerful, but they’re causing big problems in the environment. Thanks to this list of the best eco-friendly alternatives to balloons, you have plenty of great ways to decorate and have fun without using balloons.
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Did you enjoy learning more about the top eco-friendly alternatives to balloons? Interested in checking out even more tips that can help you live a more sustainable life? Then please sure to take a look at some of our other popular posts:
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