Environmental concern over balloons

John Hide, Plumstead

I was visiting the new 3Arts Village yesterday and sussing out what has caused us (at The Rathfelder), so much noise, over the past six months or so.

I found The Crazy Store to be a tenant at 3Arts. I decided to see if there was anything new in the store. Indeed there was: they are selling balloons, which, in itself, is bad enough for our environment, but they are also supplying free helium gas.

This has to stop! I am sure you will agree?

Rena Engelbrect, marketing and merchandise executive for Crazy Store, responds:

We are one of many other retailers around the world that sell balloons in our stores. We have taken note of the environmental concerns around balloons and we are also offering our customers a bio-degradable balloon option in stores, which can be filled with helium if that would be the option that they prefer. Our supplier of the bio-degradable balloons confirmed that that they will degrade between 12 and 24 months. They are made from 100% latex. This is harvested from rubber trees sustainably without harming the tree. These balloons are completely natural and 100% bio-degradable. They contain no plastic and only natural pigments.

Regarding helium, it is a colourless, odourless, inert, non-toxic gas and is used to make balloons lighter than air, or float. When released into the atmosphere, helium, the second-most abundant element in the universe, has no adverse effect on the environment and, in fact, escapes into space. We also do not give it away for free, but we charge R9.99 per fill.

We hope that all customers will dispose of the balloons responsibly when they are done enjoying them, same as we trust people to be responsible with any littering or refuse.

We do have strong call outs on our balloons imploring customers not to release them into the environment and certainly do not advocate that.