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Who doesn't love balloons? They add color and fun to parties and celebrations, they can be used as air-filled messages — pink or blue for a new baby, or even as an advertisement for a business. They are also one of the most exciting objects in a toddler's life, right up there with stickers and butterflies. But what if you care about the environment? Can you still use balloons? Are there biodegradable balloons?
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Latex is a natural material that comes from the sap of rubber trees. Collecting the sap is safe for the trees. As long as the rubber trees are protected, the latex is a sustainable material. It is used not only to make balloons, but also latex mattresses, gloves, and other practical items. You know those balloons you buy at the drugstore, toy stores, and fairs — the traditional, brightly colored ones that we all have grown up with? They are made from latex rubber. Not only does this material have eco-friendly origins, but it also has a safe-for-the-environment decomposition process.
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Latex rubber and the balloons made from latex are naturally biodegradable. They will decompose on their own in about six months. Sunlight speeds up the process, but just like an old log rotting in the forest or the kitchen scraps in your compost pile, microorganisms and the air will eventually break latex rubber balloons down.
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Are Balloons Eco-Friendly?
Latex rubber balloons are eco-friendly, but that doesn't mean that it is a good idea to release helium-filled ones into the air. There is some concern that wildlife could potentially choke on a deflated balloon. Also, the ribbons that balloons are often tied to are not necessarily biodegradable. You can toss used latex balloons into your compost pile, but make sure they are not going to be a tempting choking hazard for animals or small children.
While latex balloons are green enough to make any eco-conscious balloon lover happy, their shiny, metallic counterparts are not. Mylar balloons are not biodegradable and they are far from eco-friendly.
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Where to Buy
Latex balloons are available anywhere that party decorations and children's toys are sold. They are extremely inexpensive. If you want to go as ' green' as possible, try eco-friendly suppliers such as Little Cherry. This party supplies company sells biodegradable balloons that are definitely made from sap that has been collected from sustainable forests. Also, their ribbons are compostable and made from natural dyes. Try to make one large order of all your eco-friendly party needs at once to cut down on the eco-effects of shipping.
So yes, balloons get a thumbs-up from the environment. Just make sure you dispose of them properly and you can have fun without harming the Earth.
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The Balloon Council <http://www.balloonhq.com/BalloonCouncil/faq.html#bio>
Little Cherry <http://www.littlecherry.co.uk/Balloons-&-Ribbon/c148/index.html?osCsid=8re20hfe6vetrqahv77bdf7vka5lhsj6>
photo by: Charlotte Morrall (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/charlottemorrall/3827770225/sizes/m/in/photostream/>
photo by: Contemplicity (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/angel_malachite/4377440608/sizes/m/in/photostream/>
photo by: D Sharon Pruitt (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/345653550/sizes/m/in/photostream/>