The Malta Independent 18 June 2019, Tuesday

'Call from the future'

Camilla Appelgren Tuesday, 9 October 2018, 09:34 Last update: about 9 months ago

When people report actions to me that are causing environmental degradation, I feel like if I live in a parallel universe than the one of the offenders. From time to time I just can't understand that people are so unaware of their surroundings, that they don't see the harm they are causing. Take plastic confetti and balloon releases as a great example.

Everyone is talking about it at the moment. When it happens, it usually takes less than an hour before I start receiving reports about it with photos attached. Still we have people planning big events, with one question which seems to never have been asked, “Is this sustainable?”. Last Saturday we all enjoyed Valletta during the festivities but seeing the endless use of plastic confetti and on top of it a balloon release makes you think you are back to the year of 1980, before the time of world wide web presented itself to the people.


Plastic confetti and balloons being released from no less than Castille Square and no reaction whatsoever from the ones in charge of our country. If that isn't the biggest facepalm ever, I don't know what is? It literally was confetti all over the stairs of the Castille. What more is needed to trigger a reaction?

But hey, it will be cleaned up you know! So there is no issue, or? The balloons, they were possibly biodegradable, so no harm done right? Usually those are the statements made after events like these. The ignorance, all the way from the top, is disgraceful. It takes one search online to clarify the harm, one search and people will heal the ignorance. “Just one”, isn't that a favourite phrase we see way too often?

So, dear reader, let's clear something out and please spread the knowledge. There is no such thing as a good helium balloon released into the air. None. Zero. They are all lethal, end of story. I mean, we can try ourselves to eat biodegradable balloons and see how well we would feel after some time because hey, they aren’t dangerous due to being biodegradable right? Biodegradable doesn't mean they magically disappears once they touch ground. They are actually worse than normal ones if you ask me due to the misleading information and the false feeling of safety that surrounds them.

The word biodegradable has made us humans think that we can overuse it, that it's good. It's a very smart trick by the industry and they use it to make as much profit as possible. I've even seen a balloon seller from the United states making a whole video about the so called “good and biodegradable” balloons.

Do you want to know the reality? It takes over a decade for biodegradable balloons to actually biodegrade, in a proper facility. The sea, unfortunately, isn’t such a facility. In the sea no one actually knows how long it takes, but it takes long enough for it to kill and to disrupt the ecosystem. The one system our survival depends on.

So we can either solve this by stopping the usage of unnecessary plastics, like helium balloons released into the air, or we can face the consequences. Sad thing is, it's not the one releasing the balloons that will face that harsh reality. It is the child that we released that balloon for. How ironic isn’t that?

If that child looked back, seeing the beauty we had as children with a sea full of fish and a clean environment without plastic before 1960 when plastics entered the system, I bet that child would judge us harshly.

Why did we keep on doing things that we knew for sure would harm our children?

Why did the leaders of our country keep on allowing it when they are the ones in power to take hard decisions that will benefit the commons and not the few?

Why did we just stand there?

These are all questions from the future generation for us to answer one day. Will we ever listen and learn?

If we really don't realise that plastic confetti and balloon releases are nothing but pure littering since impossible to clean up every single piece, then who will we keep accountable once the questions start being asked?

Please stop being satisfied with being mediocre, let's all strive towards a sustainable society. A society where our children will develop and feel pride and happiness and being able to look forward to a life. At the moment we are robbing them of the future that wasn’t ours to take, nor ruin.

To everyone in charge of this country, take a stand for a clean environment. If someone threw plastic confetti and released balloons on my doorstep they would be taught a lesson or two. Why are you silent?



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