It’s devastating to lose someone close to you, and we extend our condolences to anyone that has lost someone recently. It’s a natural part of the grieving process to want to come together to say goodbye, whether as part of a funeral or event to pay respects. However, we still keep seeing reports on social media and in the news about balloons being released as memorials or as part of a vigil to remember a loved one. It’s an emotive subject but it’s so important to realise that balloons don’t go up to heaven, they come back down to earth and can pose a real danger to wildlife and the environment.
Here we have a few more sustainable alternatives to balloon releases that won’t injure wildlife or litter our planet.
Bubbles: Kids and adults alike tend to all love blowing bubbles. You can make a bubble solution or buy a large bottle of it and let the breeze carry them in the breeze. You can also get giant bubble wands or makers which are pretty spectacular.
Flowers and Petals: You can float petals or flowers on a stream, river or shore, or throw natural petal confetti in the breeze and watch it fly away.
Flying Kites: A beautiful and reusable alternative to balloons, flying kites at funerals and memorials is a very old tradition in some parts of the world. Make the kites or decorate them yourself to personalise it, or add messages tied to the tail of the kite for your loved one.
Plant in remembrance: Plant a native tree or plant and watch it grow. A balloon release is not only dangerous to wildlife and will come down as litter, but it is also over very quickly. Planting trees or plants is a longer-term memorial and you can come back to visit it when you want to. It also helps by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, releasing oxygen, and providing shelter and nutrition to animals and valuable bees and other insects. Visit the Woodland Trust for information about tree planting https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/
Memory pot or jar: Come together and each write a small note with a treasured memory on it. Put them all in the pot or jar and they can either be read out aloud or taken home by the family to be read in private when they are ready. A lovely way to remember someone and see them through different eyes.
Ribbon dancers: Instead of giving kids and guests balloons at parties or events, why not give them something a little more engaging? Balloons will simply sit tied up or be gone in a flash if released (not to mention harm wildlife and deplete helium resources). Ribbon dancers are beautiful and require people to move around and have fun!
Wildflower seed bombs: Throw native flower seed bombs (make sure it’s an area where you have permission to do so). Enjoy watching the flowers grow and bloom and provide well-needed resources for bees and insects.
Lighting candles or jam-jar lanterns: A wonderful way to remember the light of a loved one is to come together and light candles. This could be indoors (be careful with naked flames) or outdoors. You can make lanterns with jam jars and decorate them. It is a beautiful and poignant way to say goodbye to someone precious to you. You can repeat it to mark birthdays or anniversaries. Please don’t use sky lanterns, which are probably even more dangerous to wildlife and can cause damage to trees and even buildings.