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The Journey to Boycott Balloons

Balloon release:  Project AWARE; Ugly Journey of Our Trash
Community Actions

Among the soft corals, sea horses and stingrays of Ammo Jetty dive site in Western Australia, scuba divers also spot discarded beer bottles, plastic bait bags, fishing line and balloons used by fishermen to carry their lines further out to sea. The beach at Woodman Point is also a popular spot for celebrations. 

"The public love to come and enjoy this site and have lots of celebrations here with balloons, which they tape to their pergolas. But more often than not they tend to leave them behind when they head home, either still attached to where they stuck them, or burst particles on the ground. Water balloons are also another big problem here," explains local diver and founder of Boycott Balloons, Lisa Hills.

Balloon Ban, Ammo Jetty, Western Australia


Disheartened by the increasing amount of balloons she was finding both underwater and on her beach walks, Hills decided to take action.

"I would pass a furniture store using latex balloons at their entrance to draw the attention to the passing public. The next day I noticed that there were balloon particles on the pavement outside the store. I picked them up and disposed of them in my bin when I returned home. The next time I walked by I noticed some balloon particles on the grass verge. Then I started to find them in the kerbs, on top of the grates over the storm water drains, and even worse in the drains. I took it upon myself to contact the store to make them aware of what was happening, and I asked if they had ever considered using a more environmentally friendly item."

Balloon Ban, Ammo Jetty, Western Australia


Sadly the store wasn't interested. But she did not give up. She emailed the store and offered to form a community group to investigate recyclable alternatives but they declined and the litter continued. 

"I had started to do some research about balloons, and this was when I discovered that it was actually legal to release balloons in Australia. I also discovered the harm they could potentially cause to animals in the ocean, and on the land."

It was from here that Hills kick started the Boycott Balloons Freemantle campaign. After receiving support from the public she created a Facebook page and the momentum built from there. 

Cottesloe in Western Australia became the first town to implement their own by-law to ban the release of helium balloons on council land. Cottesloe, like many other towns, have banned the use of balloons at their events on council land. Several high schools stopped their traditional graduation balloon release. The Metropolitan Cemeteries Board agreed to no longer support balloon release at funerals and to change all their literature to spread awareness of the potential damage such actions could cause. 

Balloon Ban, Ammo Jetty, Western Australia


It's been a long road but Hills isn't about stop. "I am now assisting The Greens with a bill to make an amendment to the littering act to include the ban of balloon releases and the use of a lot of single use plastics such as straws, bags, coffee cups and a few more," she adds.

"I feel the change is coming and until it does I will keep spreading my message."

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