Balloons causing significant environmental damage.
Another image of the effects of not banning balloons.
~ SCDF yet to respond to request ~
PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten Nature Foundation is urging St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) to find sustainable alternatives to using balloons during two events for next year’s celebration of 50 years of Carnival.
The Nature Foundation sent a letter to SCDF on Monday asking it to consider sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics, also during events at the Carnival Village.
The Nature Foundation recorded a significant increase in plastic litter and debris during last year’s Carnival. “We are urging the SCDF to not only make the celebration for 50 years of Carnival fun and exciting, but also sustainable and with minimal impact on our environment,” said Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.
The Daily Herald reached out to SCDF for comment, but it declined to make any statements at this time about the request from Nature Foundation.
The Nature Foundation said it is especially concerned about the use of balloons and other single-use plastics during the Carnival season.
“Balloons may look nice, but they have a number of environmental concerns associated with them. What goes up must come down. Balloons are hazards when they enter the environment. All released balloons, whether they are released intentionally or not, return to Earth as ugly litter – including those marketed as “biodegradable latex,” said Bervoets.
Balloons kill countless animals and are especially harmful to endangered sea turtle and bird species. Balloons return to the land and sea where they can be mistaken for food and eaten by animals. Sea turtles, dolphins, whales, fish and birds have been reported with balloons in their stomachs and ribbons and strings leading to entanglement and death.
There are two types of balloons in general use – latex and Mylar. Although latex balloons are considered bio-degradable, they will take anywhere from six months to four years to decompose and they can wreak a lot of havoc before they do. In one experiment researchers observed that balloons floating in seawater deteriorated much more slowly and still retained their elasticity even after 12 months.
“During beach clean-ups balloons are found often entangling wildlife. We therefore urge the SCDF to consider alternatives to an outdated practice,” continued Bervoets.
The Nature Foundation proposes alternatives that can be used instead of balloons during the scheduled Golden Balloon Around Town Jump Up on April 5 and the Survivors Children Balloon Jump Up on April 7. Alternatives to balloons include flags, banners, streamers, dancing inflatables, kites, garden spinners and tissue paper pompoms.
“Many people, including the staff at the Nature Foundation, look forward to celebrating 50 years of carnival. But that celebration should not come at a cost to our natural environment and
the various animals which will be killed by balloons and other single-use plastics. Therefore, we are urging the SCDF to do the right thing and look for alternatives,” concluded Bervoets.