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Sky Lanterns and Helium Balloons

Did you know that almost 200,000 sky lanterns are sold and used every year in the UK?

Although many are advertised as "biodegradable" or perhaps "environmentally friendly" they do in fact cause significant damage.

We understand that although they may appear lovely to look at when first released, eventually what goes up must come down and unfortunately when they land there are dangerous and devastating consequences to both wildlife and the environment. 

Council Ban

At Full Council on 18 February 2020 a motion was agreed to ban the release of all sky lanterns and heliums balloons on BCP Council land.  

We do not allow the release of sky lanterns or balloons on council land or any events licensed by BCP Council.

The effect on animals 

Both helium balloons and sky lanterns can endanger the lives of both marine and land animals. They may get caught or trapped in the framing of the lantern which as a result may cause a great deal of distress or injury when trying to free themselves. 

Often, livestock will confuse balloon/lantern parts for food. If ingested, this can be fatal.

Visit RSPCA and Marine Conservation Society to find more details. 

The effect on our environment

Releasing a balloon or sky lantern is a type of littering. If you wouldn’t drop litter on the ground – why would you release it into the sky?

Even before they land sky lanterns can have devastating effects – especially if still lit. Once a sky lantern has been released, there is no way of knowing where it will land which creates a big fire risk. 

In addition, sky lanterns also causing a large number of unnecessary false alarm call outs on the coast as people mistake them for distress flares.

What can you do instead? 

We are aware that sky lanterns are often used amongst celebrations or memorial events, however there are many alternatives that are much safer and far less detrimental to wildlife and open land. For example, you may wish to:

  • Plant a tree or create a flower garden 

Our wider tree planting programme offers you the opportunity to plant a tree, this acts as a personal lasting memory, plus it’s very environmentally friendly! Get in touch with us to find out how you can take part.

  • Bubbles 

Bubbles are a family friendly way for everyone to get involved in a celebration. Initially this may not seem to be a very exciting option, but they can have a fantastic effect as they float away into the sky.

  • Candles

Candles have a very strong ambient effect at night. This is a popular alternative to sky lanterns, especially for commemorative events or an occasion where a peaceful atmosphere is required.

  • Fly flags, banners or kites 

Immerse our skies with incredible colours, patterns and mesmerising shapes - plus children will love them. 

These are all popular options and there are so many more that you may think of. Please share these with your friends and families before your next celebration or event. As part of the Climate and Ecological Emergency, we all need to take every possible step to ensure we look after and care for our environment.

To find more alternatives please visit Litter Free Coast and Sea.