Now more than ever I am battling with my arch nemesis - Miss Information. Daily, we are bombarded with headlines and clickbait all vying for our undying (yet rapidly shortening) attention. As a balloon artist whose business is based in generating joy even I am being swept up into the world of falsehoods and scaremongering. While giant corporations are dodging tax and pointing the blame at the individual for the demise of the natural world, we are turning against our neighbours and shaming each other for straws and plastic bags. We are not uniting - we are yet again divided over pollution and ethical living. Balloons are being attacked as well.
In some ways I feel lucky to be the perfect age of 34. I have experienced a childhood void of fancy technology. VHS and basic cable television were only gifted to me if the one TV in the house wasn't occupied by my parents. I was sent outside to play and to not come back until dinner. I would play in the park, be bullied, be a bully, climb trees and everything in between.
In the 90s, when the joy and convenience of plastics and technology became accessible to the regular Joes and Joannas I was right there in the thick of it- amazed and delighted by all the wonders. It was a marvelous time. A time where we didn't have guilt attached to every purchase and as a kid I was completely unaware of the cost on the other side of the world. I remember watching a massive bunch of balloons being released into the air and being one of those people cheering and smiling as they magically got swept up and disappeared into the distance.
Those days are over.
Balloon releases are destroying my industry and now we know what we know... Helium balloons being released into the atmosphere are yet more pollution. They turn up in fields, hedges, trees and it is just more garbage to add to the already depressing level of shit smeared across this earth. Balloons are biodegradeable but they take a long time to degrade so that is not an excuse for balloon releases. On the whole, balloon releases make people angry now, rightfully so! By proxy, it also makes an increasing number of individuals want to get rid of balloons altogether (cue violins).
Imagine it, a world without balloons (swell violins). Whoa! Before you leap off a bridge stop and just compose yourself (mute violins). We have a tendency to jump to conclusions and shame our friends overnight based on some tenuous link we clicked on while covered in potato chips at 3am basking in the blue glow. Getting rid of balloons altogether is pretty drastic.
Balloons are not plastic! Balloons are made from latex that is sourced from the rubber tree, Hevea Braziliensis. It is taken from the tree kind of like maple syrup, tapped in a bucket without harming it. Balloons do breakdown over time, about 6 months to 4 years. That doesn't mean they support plant growth or don't release any toxic residue from the dyes and conditioners as they breakdown which is why they should be disposed of responsibly. If your child has a balloon and it pops, it is a great learning opportunity to have them pick up the pieces and put them in the bin.
Let's stop shaming each other and start shaming the government and corporate power (which seems to me to be one in the same). They need to invest in research to develop the best way forward to avoid the total destruction and annihalation of the natural world. We are at a point where most material goods aren't going to decompose in our lifetime. Balloons aren't the problem, its the responsibility of those in power to not just think about wealth and staying in power - but really planning for the future generations and the integrity of the earth they inhabit.
Ultimately humanity is a mere blink of an eye in earth's timeline and we will be dust in no time at all. But damn it, can't we try to be dust with dignity?!