Australian City Votes To Ban Balloon Releases Due To Their Environmental Impact
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On the surface of it, a ban on balloons would sound like the ultimate in party pooping. Indeed, if someone steals your excitement and joy, we say they've burst your balloon.
But long gone are the days when the inflatables were seen as a bit of harmless fun, and now one Australian city looks set to ban people from releasing them.
Last night (Wednesday 26 June), the council in Fremantle, Western Australia, voted in favour of prohibiting balloon releases in the port city. Under the law change, people who release gas-filled balloons will be landed with a fine of AUD $125 AUD (£69 / US £88).
The law would come into effect when it is printed in the WA Government Gazette, which could happen within a matter of months.
Mayor Brad Pettitt said he hoped the ban would be rolled out across the state.
According to Perth Now, he said: "There is a strong expectation in our community now that things like releasing helium balloons, that obviously have clearly well scientifically documented impact on marine life, are something coastal councils like Fremantle need to take leadership on.
"There will be a clear communication strategy around this and those reserves, in terms of events we'll hold, but also there will be some signage, and we'll try to do that in a way... that is saying, 'Hey, this is who we are as a community and this is what we expect when you use our reserves.'
"We'd love to see this ban rolled out more broadly, like plastic bags, across the whole state."
When the law comes into place, Fremantle will become the second council in the state to ban balloons, with the town of Cottesloe outlawing them in 2017.
Speaking at the time, Cottesloe mayor Jo Dawkins said the ban was introduced in the interests of wildlife.
According to ABC, she said: "The reasoning behind this was, there are environmental concerns - fish and birds and other animals are being found with the remnants of rubber and plastic in their bodies."
On Tuesday, the Southampton Town board, in New York, USA, voted unanimously in favour of legislation banning the intentional release of balloons.
According to Patch, Councillor Julie Lofstad said: "We need to change our behaviours and find better alternatives to products that harm our environment.
"Balloons that have been released or thrown in the garbage become hazards to marine life and land animals. They take up space in our landfills. There are viable alternatives, such as butterfly releases, planting a tree in someone's honour, or using whirligigs to attract attention.
"If we stop and think about where these single use items go after we are done with them, perhaps we will be more cognisant and careful in our choices."